Film Review: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns opens in UK cinemas on 21st December and you are in for a treat. I was lucky enough to see it very early on and I can say that it is the family film of the year. Don’t compare it with the original classic movie and don’t feel nostalgic about it. Mary Poppins Returns has to be seen as a standalone original musical comedy to be truly enjoyed. The soundtrack includes a few catchy songs which will eventually become classic tunes in their own right. 

The story

The screenplay is by David Magee, Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers. 

Mary Poppins Returns is Disney’s sequel of the original movie. The eccentric nanny is back to help the next generation of the Banks family in Depression-era London find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. When she arrives the adult Banks kids, Michael and Jane, are in such financial straits that they’re about to lose the beloved family home on Cherry Tree Lane. 

Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks’ home in Disney’s original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family..

Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London.

The trailer 

The verdict 

It has taken more than 50 years, but Disney has finally brought its universally beloved character Mary Poppins back to the screen with Rob Marshall, the Oscar-winning Chicago and Into The Woods director at the helm. The original classic movie was first released on the big screen in 1964.

London Roehampton born and bred Emily Blunt is the new face for the iconic P.L. Travers’ umbrella-toting magical nanny taking on a role that Julie Andrews was perfect for. After all, the original film is Disney’s crown jewel, the most honoured movie in its history with 13 Oscar nominations and five wins (best picture, best actress and best original score). It was Disney’s biggest box-office movie of the Sixties. In over 50 years the movie has been released in 17 different languages and has always had great universal appeal. Now it also has the nostalgic factor which made this sequel even more challenging for the filmmakers. 

Mary Poppins was the first live-action film I saw as a child in the Seventies and I kept watching it in cinemas first every Christmas at least for 10 consecutive years. Like myself, I can imagine most parents these days would see this character as the most familiar and adored. Emily Blunt is a slightly corny for me but she is good in this role that requires a lot of singing and dancing. 

I am a huge fan of the original film because I grew up with it and still remember my mum singing the songs to make me do all sort of chores. It’s been on my watch list for a few years now since I found out of this release by Lin-Manuel Miranda when I met him at the Moana premiere in November 2016 when rehearsals started in London. He is excellent in the role of London lamplighter replacing the Van Dyke character of chimney-sweeper. 

Jane (Emily Mortimer), John (Nathanael Saleh), Annabel (Pixie Davies, Ellen (Julie Walters), Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Georgie (Joel Dawson) and Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) in MARY POPPINS RETURNS, Disney’s original musical which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically-perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Ben Whishaw stars as Michael Banks. I personally adore him for his role as the voice Paddington in the British comedies. From the Paddington films there’s also Julie Walters as the Banks’ housekeeper Ellen. 

Colin Firth plays the evil Fidelity Fiduciary Bank’s William Weatherall Wilkins and Meryl Streep is Mary Poppins’ eccentric cousin, Topsy.  

Legendary 90+ Angela Lansbury is amazing as the Balloon Lady, a treasured character from the PL Travers books, who performs the best song Nowhere to Go But Up with the ensemble at the end of the film. 

92-year-old Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes, Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth’s character. It’s a brilliant small singing and dancing part but his cameo is one of my favourite moments in the movie. It proves the point that the original movie is still so stuck in our memories that it makes it very difficult for any new Mary Poppins film to surpass it. 

While watching this movie at an early media screening, I asked myself whether this sequel was more for people reminiscing the original movie or for kids. Children these days expect upbeat music, references to their idols and to their contemporary world. But this movie is about the vain and efficient nanny Mary Poppins who sings and dances and takes you to imaginary world. This is the type of movies that I have grown up with and that still appeals to me and to very young children. However, I am not sure teenagers would become big fans of this sequel. 

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Dinsey’s original musica MARY. POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Mary Poppins Returns is right up at London Mums’ street: it’s filmed in London, talks about London Mums and kids, has an amazing soundtrack and great performers. 
A lot of references to the original film are in the dialogues rather than the music. I would have loved to hear at least one of the old songs. But unfortunately there wasn’t even a nod to those familiar tunes. Having said that, the all new soundtrack is great even if not as catchy as The Greatest Showman‘s soundtrack.
Mary Poppins Returns is a good standalone family film that can sparks some magic over the Christmas holidays. 

London Mums’ rating: 8/10 

Kids’ club rating: 8/10 


The soundtrack 

The digital album and physical CD of Mary Poppins Returns Original Motion Picture Soundtrack are now available on PRE ORDER HERE.
The music score is by Marc Shaiman and the film features all new original songs with music by Shaiman and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Shaiman. Full soundtrack includes performances by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury.

Trip A Little Light Fantastic video live now:


The Place Where Lost Things Go video live now: 

The track list includes the following songs:

  1. “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” – Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  2. “Overture” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  3. “A Conversation” – Performed by Ben Whishaw
  4. “Can You Imagine That?” – Performed by Emily Blunt with Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
  5. “The Royal Doulton Music Hall” – Performed by Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
  6. “Introducing Mary Poppins” – Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt
  7. “A Cover Is Not the Book” – Performed by Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda and Company
  8. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” – Performed by Emily Blunt
  9. “Turning Turtle” – Performed by Meryl Streep with Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
  10. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda with Emily Blunt, Tarik Frimpong, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Leeries
  11. “The Place Where Lost Things Go (Reprise)” – Performed by Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Pixie Davies
  12. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic (Reprise)” – Performed by Dick Van Dyke with Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson and Nathanael Saleh
  13. “Nowhere to Go But Up” – Performed by Angela Lansbury, Ben Whishaw, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters and Company
  14. “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky (Reprise)” – Performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  15. “Theme from Mary Poppins Returns” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  16. “Kite Takes Off” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  17. “Mary Poppins Arrives” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  18. “Magic Papers” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  19. “Banks in the Bank” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  20. “Into the Royal Doulton Bowl” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  21. “Rescuing Georgie” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  22. “Off to Topsy’s” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  23. “Chase Through the Bank” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  24. “Lost in a Fog” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  25. “Goodbye Old Friend” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  26. “Race to Big Ben” – Performed by Marc Shaiman
  27. “End Title Suite” – Performed by Marc Shaimam

Pre-Order Link

The books

If you have never read the books by PL Travers, I strongly recommend them as family bedtime reads. They are well written in an easy language that kids would find pleasant and witty. The whole collection of novels has been re-published this year by HarperCollins Children’s Books including an edition exclusively illustrated by Lauren Child. 

Related features

Watch my interview with Lin Manuel Miranda on his Mary Poppins singing and dancing role: 

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