Mary Poppins Returns is a musical fantasy directed by Rob Marshall, screenplay written by David Magee and story by Magee Marshall, and John DeLuca. Mary Poppins Returns is based on the book series, Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers. The film is a sequel to the 1964 original film, Mary Poppins and was released in the United States on December 19, 2018, making it one of the longest gaps between film sequels in cinematic history at 54 years. While I always got Nanny McPhee mixed up with Mary Poppins, I now know the absolute difference, thanks to the sequel. I didn’t particularly want to see MPR but I’m glad I did — it’s truly a fun, feel good movie.
Mary Poppins Returns, (MPR) is set in the 1930s London, twenty-five years after the original film. Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), the former nanny of Jane and Michael Banks, returns to the Bank’s household after a family tragedy: In 1935 London, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) lives in the home where he grew up and married Kate and now has three children, Annabel Banks (Pixie Davies), John Banks (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie Banks (Joel Dawson). Tragady befell Michael and the children when his wife, Kate died a year ago. Ellen (Julie Walters), the house keeper and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer), Michael’s sister are helping him to raise the children. However, Michael has taken a loan from the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank where his father formerly was a partner before passing, to cover their living expenses.
William “Weatherall” Wilkins (Colin Firth) sends his associates to warn him that his house will be repossessed if the loan is not repaid in full by Friday. Michael and Jane remember their father left them shares in the bank that can cover the loan, so they searched the house for the certificate proving their ownership of the shares. During the search, Michael finds a kite for which he finds as worthless and puts it out in the trash. While the children were off to purchase a few groceries for dinner, Annabel, John and Georgie, having taken the park route, separates from Georgie who finds the kite and tries flying it. He ends up being pulled into the sky, but then comes down with Mary Poppins, who decides to take care of the three children as their nanny and starts off by drawing them a bath, which magically leads them down to an oceanic world. Of course, Mary Poppins denied anything fantastical happened.
Michael goes to the bank to see if he can find proof of his father’s shares, but Wilkins denies there are any records of the shares. As Michael leaves the office, Wilkins tears the record of proof out of the official ledger and burns it in the fireplace. That evening, Annabel and John decide to sell their mother’s “priceless” bowl to pay off the debt. Georgie tries to stop them, and the bowl ends up damaged while the three were fighting over it. Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), an official Cockney Lamplighter, greets Mary Poppins and joins her and the kids on a trip inside the painting on the side of the bowl. The group meets the talking animals drawn on the bowl, and Mary Poppins creates the Royal Doulton Music Hall. However, Georgie is kidnapped by a gang consisting of a wolf, a weasel and a badger, causing Annabel and John to try and rescue him . They successfully do so, but end up going out of the painting and later wake up in their beds, thinking their experience was a dream.
The next day, Mary Poppins and the children go to see Mary’s cousin Topsy/Tatikana Antanasia Cositori Topotrepolovsky (Meryl Streep) to get the bowl fixed only to find out the bowl has little monetary value. They then go to the bank to give Michael his briefcase that he left home earlier that morning. When the children get to Wilkins’ office, hoping to ask him for help, they overhear Wilkins planning to take away their house. Georgie started to see parallels between Wilkins and his associates and the animal gang who kidnapped him, so he interrupts the banker’s meeting. When Michael arrives, he does not believe the children and becomes angry with them for putting the house and his job at risk, as Michael worked part time at the bank. Mary Poppins takes the children home. They are guided by Jack and his fellow lamplighters. Without the shares and no hope for an extension on the loan, the Banks family make preparations to move out of their house.
How the Bank’s family and Mary Poppins resolve the loan issue is very exciting. The family, Jack and all of Mary Poppins fantasy characters share in exposing the truth about Mr. Wilkins. There are many more magical characters and adventures to come in this highly appraised sequel. Right to the very end, there is magic in the air. Mary Poppins Returns received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised its acting (particularly Blunt’s performance), direction, musical score, musical numbers, costume design, production values, visuals, and sense of nostalgia. It was chosen by both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the top ten films of 2018 and received numerous award nominations, including four at the 76th Golden Globe Awards. Children will love it and as an adult, I loved it too. The performances were outstanding, I particularly liked the character Jack, who was just simply marvelous. You can’t go wrong with this one — Check It Out!
[Mary Poppins Returns is Oscar nominated for Best: Production Design, Costume Design, Original Score and Original Song]