Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins

By Joanna Langfield

There have been many very fine movies this year, but this is the only one that will have you floating on air.

Creating a sequel is never a simple task, especially for a truly beloved classic. But Rob Marshall, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Blunt and company have not just raised Mary Poppins’ umbrella, they’ve raised the bar, jumped into the sky and, with technology and charm, delivered the happiest surprise.

Michael and Jane Banks are now all grown up and, sadly, they’ve got grown up problems. Of course, who doesn’t, in 1930’s Depression-era London? But Michael, now a widowed father, may lose the Banks’ house, the one he and Jane grew up in and are now raising Michael’s three motherless children. Jack (a lithe Miranda), the local lightkeep, tries to lighten the circumstances for the family, but it’s not until guess who descends from wherever she’s been we see the possibility of a brighter tomorrow.

Emily Blunt, the wonderful triple threat of an actress, makes Mary a Poppins for the 21st Century. Somewhat sly, as tough as a teacher on the first day of school, her Mary will stand for no nonsense. Unless it’s nonsense of her own making, which bubbles up quickly, as she draws the children a bath. Then, the fun begins. But, as it all revolves around the family’s sadness and the distinct possibility of losing their home to the bank (boo-hiss), there is a grounding here that not only recognizes the first film but also keeps us emotionally involved. As in, yes, I cried.

The cast is delightful, complete with cameos that left my audience cheering. And wait till you see the dance numbers, my favorite, the joyous updated Blunt and Miranda duet with animated co-stars. You’ll want to see all of it again and again.