Mary Poppins has been a classic Hollywood musical enjoyed by  families since 1964. Julie Andrews has been an example of a perfect  nanny while Dick Van Dyke has given Americans an example of a horrible  British accent for over fifty years. Nobody had any problems with the  first film (besides Van Dyke’s horrific accent, but that’s another  story), and families to this day still watch the classic musical tale of  rotten kids with their whimsical nanny.

But now, a new Mary is in town along with a new lower class sidekick,  ready to whip some new Banks children into shape. With Emily Blunt  starring as a beautiful and original Mary Poppins, and the icon of  modern American musical theater, Lin-Manuel Miranda, as her new trusty  sidekick, an easter-egg filled Mary Poppins Returns that pays homage to the original has no way to go wrong… or does it?

Practically perfect musical numbers

Image from IMDb

Like the first film, the sequel is very music heavy. From the very  first seconds of the movie, the music is what one would expect from a  Disney movie: lyrical, vibrant and fun. While the music is very  stereotypical for a Disney family movie, it still has a little bit of  uniqueness that ties it back to its predecessor. The movie begins with a  welcoming solo from Jack himself (Lin-Manuel Miranda), and immediately  entices audiences into the world of Mary Poppins. Each song afterwards  both builds the story and also engages every member of the audience.

The music and lyrics for this movie were written by Marc Shaiman and  Scott Wittman, who have previously worked together for movies and  broadway shows such as Hairspray, Catch Me If You Can and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  These two shined in this movie, paying homage to the original through  songs such as “A Cover is Not the Book” which is similar in feel to the  classic “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and “Trip a Little Light  Fantastic” which has a comparable feel to the original dance number  “Step in Time.” While these numbers and others are filled with memories  of the old movie, they also add a modern spin on the classic and  encompass the strengths of their new leads. Miranda features his famous  hip-hop style with a bit of rapping in some of the numbers, and others  showcase Blunt’s strong alto voice. Shaiman and Wittman do a great job  in this musical by giving a variation on the classic style of the  original while also adding modern flairs to fit the musical style of  today.

A spoonful of bad visuals

Image from IMDb

While this movie hit the nail on the head with the musical numbers,  the visual effects were a bit atrocious. With so many live-action and  intensely animated movies in today’s day and age, the animators of this  movie had no excuse for dodgy CGI and awkward animations, yet that’s  exactly what they delivered. Some of the scenes that were “imaginary,”  such as scenes where Mary and the children were immersed in worlds that  seemed unreal (such the ocean in the bathtub or the cartoon world on the  bowl) made the children and Mary seem completely out of place in the  scenery of the world they were in. Whether it be that their imaginary  world was inconsistently animated or they looked like they were floating  in front of a green screen, the visual effects and animations really  detracted from the feeling of the scene.

Some might argue that these visual effects are similar to the  original film, and, in that case, they would be correct. These  animations are extremely similar to those used in the first film. But  that film was made over fifty years ago. They were innovative animations  in 1964, but in 2018 they simply don’t work. They could have used this  sequel to fix any problems and modernize the first film in every way,  but instead they got too caught up in their reverence to the original  that they missed the mark on the modern CGI that many are used to  seeing, especially from Disney.

Trying to stay awake

Image from IMDb

There are definitely some strong points within the movie that have  yet to be discussed. Emily Blunt brings an original yet familiar version  of Mary Poppins to the screen. She did not seem to copy Julie Andrew’s  original performance, but she was not so far-fetched that it seemed like  a completely different person. Also, the message that the movie  portrays is an excellent and family-friendly idea that ties in the old  movie as well. The movie focuses on the fact that the parents can learn  from children and their childlike nature, which is a lesson that can be  passed down for generations.

With that said, there is one major issue that is pressing throughout  the entire film. The movie is too long. With a run time of 130 minutes, I  truly wonder how many children will be able to sit through this film.  The plot itself is not extremely slow, but there seem to be musical  numbers that just feel unnecessary. Meryl Streep makes an appearance as  Mary Poppins’ cousin who should be able to fix a bowl that the children  broke, however the entire scene felt completely unneeded. It added  nothing to the plot, and it really just exists to pad the runtime. This  is also true for the dance number with Jack and the leeries. While it  was obvious that they were trying to pay homage to “Step in Time,” the  number seemed to last forever and was hard to understand why they were  dancing for so long when the children at the point needed to get home.  While it was understandable that they wanted to add some fun characters  and dance numbers, they might have needed to ask a few times if it truly  was necessary.

Images: IMDb

Featured Image: Royal Albert Hall

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