I have long been a huge fan of Mary Poppins and, when I heard that a sequel was on the way, I was determined not only to see it, but to drag the kids along with me. Of course, when you are dealing with such a classic film, sequels and remakes always carry more than a little risk but Kermode liked it, so it was with some enthusiasm that we all traipsed out to the cinema on Saturday afternoon.
We were not disappointed.
The film is set in the 1930s and rejoins the Banks family where a now-grown Michael Banks is trying to cope with the loss of his wife and the impending loss of his house. His sister, Jane is trying to help him hold things together as are his three children. And into their lives returns Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).
Mary Poppins Returns covers much the same territory as Mary Poppins with Jane’s workers’ rights activism taking over from Winifred Banks’ campaign for votes for women and Jack the lamplighter (Lin-Manuel Miranda) taking over Cockney duties from Bert the chimney sweep. As with the first film, though, the the real focus is the father, who is too wrapped up in his own concerns.
The film takes a bit of time to get going and the songs don’t have the same instant memorability as those in the original — although the one about tripping the light fantastic was toe-tappingly fun — but the heart of the film was in exactly the same place and Blunt and Miranda’s increasingly charming double act holds things together wonderfully.
Mary Poppins Returns hits all the same beats as Mary Poppins. The fantastical adventures are similarly fantastic, if a little darker, and the songs, by turns, fun and moving, if not quite as memorable. But the film manages to repeat the emotional punch of its predecessor and is everything I hqd hoped for.