ESSENTIALLY, this is a recycled version of the 1964 Mary Poppins movie that earned leading lady Julie Andrews an Academy Award for best actress. That movie was also a groundbreaking film that married live action with hand-drawn animation.
Mary Poppins Returns, though entertaining in parts, seems more intent on copying the original instead of giving it something fresh.
While the Banks children in the first movie are now all grown-up here, they don’t seem to have learnt anything from their old nanny, Mary Poppins, or even remember her magical powers!
If author P.L. Travers had hated the first Disney adaptation of her book, she isn’t going to like this version any better.
Set in 1930s London, Michael (Ben Whislaw) is now a widowed father of three young children (played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson) who are forced to grow up quickly because daddy is a bit of a wreck.
Lawyers show up at their door and tell Michael that since he is behind the payments for the mortgage he took out on his home, he will have to pay the full amount within a few days or lose his home entirely.
Michael and his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) desperately search for some shares belonging to their late father to pay off the mortgage but are unable to find them.
It doesn’t help that the current man running the bank (Colin Firth) has no intention of helping the Banks even though he can.
Meanwhile, Michael’s children end up having an adventure involving a kite, strong winds and a mysterious woman called Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), who appears from the skies, takes them home and tells them that she is their nanny.
Michael and Jane have no recollection of the magical things Mary Poppins can do, nor do they questions why she looks younger than them.
Naturally, Mary Poppins uses her powers to help the children rediscover their childhood with some aid from Lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda).
But when the film tries to foster a romance between Jane and Jack, that’s a bit hard to swallow.
There are also characters the movie could do without (Meryl Streep is totally wasted here as cousin Topsy), songs that are not memorable and scenes that are unnecessarily drawn out for no good reason.
The only bright spot is Blunt who is perfectly cast as the magical nanny, managing to capture that special quality Andrews had in the original movie.
Other than her and the child stars, this movie will require more than just a spoon full of sugar to help everything go down.