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December 28, 2018

Mary Poppins Returns (2018) --- “In A Place We Hold Dear, Where Wonder Once Lived, A New Story Begins.”

Now an adult with three children, bank teller Michael Banks learns that his house will be repossessed in five days unless he can pay back a loan. His only hope is to find a missing certificate that shows proof of valuable shares that his father left him years earlier. Just as all seems lost, Michael and his sister receive the surprise of a lifetime when Mary Poppins -- the beloved nanny from their childhood -- arrives to save the day and take the Banks family on a magical, fun-filled adventure. (1)

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     In 1964 the classic Disney film Mary Poppins was released and it is just as timeless and beloved as ever before. The film won 5 Oscars out of 13 nominations, the most noteworthy going to Julie Andrews for Best Actress. Mary Poppins is the nanny that changed everything by charming her way into our hearts with catchy songs and fun dance numbers. Cinematically she was a landmark achievement and her unforgettable teachings sculpted our very outlook on life. When Saving Mr. Banks came out in2013 I re-watched Mary Poppins and found a level of depth to the story that I didn’t notice as a child. Now decades later, the mysterious and mystical nanny makes a practically perfect and glorious return that reawakens the magic she instilled in our hearts all those years ago as well as touches the hearts of a new generation. Mary Poppins Returns (2018) tells a new adventure that follows the same formula of the original film but with enough differences – innovative visual effects, catchy new songs, and well-rounded performances – to stand on its own. Rarely do reboots or sequels, especially those based on classic films, make a dent with moviegoers, yet I believe that this film will be an exception.

     Director Rob Marshall (Into the Woods, Chicago, Memoirs of a Geisha) co-wrote the story with David Magee (Life of Pi and Finding Neverland) and producer John DeLuca (Into the Woods and Chicago), and together the three have created a worthy sequel that is delightful and a joy to watch. Most of the story utilizes the same template of the original film but the writers also wisely add-in some new additions that make it unique; such as new characters, magical scenarios, and a different ending. There is a delightful balance between old and new. Those who grew up watching the original will experience charming nostalgia, while those who are new to the series can relate, in one way or another, with the story.
     The technical aspects of the film also contribute to its success. Oscar-winning cinematographer Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha) and editor Wyatt Smith (Into the Woods and Doctor Strange) deliver stunning visual effects, while costume designer Sandy Powell (Cinderella, The Young Victoria, Shakespeare in Love) delivers beautifully bold and yet faithful recreations of the original costumes for all the characters. The set design (John Myhre, Gordon Sim, etc.) is grandiose and like the costumes, is faithful (yet refaced) to the original set.
     The original film was all about delivering energetic numbers and moving ballads that would forever be ingrained in our memory, Mary Poppins Returns (2018) does exactly that thanks to incredible work by Marc Shaiman (Hairspray, Smash). The entire score was incredibly reminiscent of the original soundtrack but there some unforgettable standouts that I was either humming to or wanted to hear again:
·      The Place Where The Lost Things Go - Emily Blunt's voice is so beautiful here and since my mother passed away as well the song meant something to me.
·      A Cover Is Not A Book – this was a fun and energetic between Blunt and Miranda that is reminiscent of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
·      Trip A Little Light Fantastic – was one of my favorite performance, possibly even better than Step in Time. which was very reminiscent of 'Step in Time' from the first movie.
·      Nowhere To Go But Up – was a great ending song and beautifully shot.
     The cast performances are solid and everyone has a great singing voice. Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place) is amazing as Mary Poppins. I didn’t think that anyone could live up to Andrews performance but Blunt holds her own as well as incorporates some Andrews performance. Lin Manuel-Miranda (Moana and Hamilton) is great as Jack, a lamp-lighter who was formally Burt’s young apprentice. While some people may not approve of his English accent, they said the same thing about Dick van Dyke’s performance. Also considering Jack was Burt’s apprentice, it makes sense that they would have similar accents. Emily Mortimer (The Bookshop) and Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas and The Lobster) were great as an older Jane and Michael Banks. They both carry some of the essence of the original performances as well as incorporate bits of the parents into their performances – Jane is an activist like her mom and Michael works at the same bank his father did. It was great seeing some noteworthy cameos from Angela Lansbury (Murder She Wrote) and Dick van Dyke, one cameo you might have missed, because her screen time was so short, was Karen Dotrice, who played Jane in the original film. Although fans were hoping to see Julie Andrews do a cameo in this film, interestingly enough she did recently play in Aquaman (2018) as the Karathan, a mythical sea monster, which ironically released at the same time as this film. The rest of the performances were good as well.

     Overall, Mary Poppins Returns (2018) is an incredibly charming film that carries the essence and pays homage to the original film but also manages to stand on its own. The story is touching, visual effects were stunning, the music is catchy, and the performances were perfect. I highly recommend this film and don’t let any negative criticism deter you from seeing it.

"Practically perfect in every way."
- Mary Poppins

Final Vote --- 10 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
Christopher Robin (2018)
Cross Creek (1983)
Finding Neverland (2004)
Goodbye, Christopher Robin (2017)
The Last Station (2009)
Miss Potter (2006)
Mary Poppins (1964)
Nanny McPhee (2006)
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)
Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin
Paddington (2014)
Paddington 2 (2018)
Peter Rabit (2018)
Pan (2015)
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
Winnie the Pooh (2011)

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