Mary Poppins Returns strikes me as a delightful throwback to the age of family musicals that pulls at your nostalgic heartstrings and puts a smile on your face. While nostalgia is nice and everything, it really just makes me want to watch the original.
I absolutely adored (and still adore) Mary Poppins so perhaps this is my simple stupid bias coloring my opinions, but the original was so full of life both in the real life and fantasy segments while Mary Poppins Returns opts for realism over whimsy which, to me at least, is a huge mistake.
The real-life segments are oddly flat and colorless which could be a conscious choice to really make the fantasy elements pop. I don’t know… One of the things that really struck me as a kid was how red Mary Poppins’ lipstick was. I know it’s odd, but that is the thing that I remember the most from my early viewings of it. Now, she’s just a drab addition to a drab palate.
The thing that bothers me the most is how Mary Poppins explicitly states at one point that she came back to help Jane and Micheal even though they are adults, yet she spends barely any time with them. Honestly, I was more interested in seeing the adult Banks children interact with Mary and the movie doesn’t deliver.
The fantasy sequences, to the movie’s credit, are a lot of fun and a joy to behold, but they really come few and far between. The songs are nice… some, like Where the Lost Things Go and Underneath the Lovely London Sky really pop while some like Trip the Light Fantastic and Going Turtle seem to go on forever. The instrumental refrains that play in the background from the original movie only made me wish I was actually watching the original.
I sadly report that Mary Poppins Returns is incredibly long or, at least, seems incredibly long. If there’s one thing that a movie like this shouldn’t do, it’s make you check your watch.
Emily Blundt is perfectly fine as Mary Poppins and, honestly, I’m not sure how anyone other than Julie Andrews, could be better. But, a lot like this sequel, she stands in the shadow of something greater and iconic and, as horrible as I feel saying this because I know how biased it sounds, Mary Poppins Returns is good but doesn’t feel good enough.
Maybe once the newness has worn off and I can just enjoy this as a movie, I can. Nostalgia can be such a burden sometimes.