Movies

Movie review: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

The magic is there, but the magic is a bit faded

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 12/28/18

It may take more than a spoonful of sugar to make the new "Mary Poppins" movie go down without an ironic gulp or two.

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Movies

Movie review: ‘Mary Poppins Returns’

The magic is there, but the magic is a bit faded

Posted

It may take more than a spoonful of sugar to make the new "Mary Poppins" movie go down without an ironic gulp or two.

Don't get me wrong. It's not a bad movie in the sense that it lacks first-rate production values or star power. It has plenty of that. In that regard, it’s actually top shelf.

It just doesn't feel particularly necessary.

Set in a Depression-era funk that has befallen Great Britain, the movie centers on a recently widowed dad and his sister, the now-grown Michael and Jane Banks (Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer), who are raising his three precocious children: Anabel, John and Georgie (Pixie Davies, Nathaniel Saleh and Joel Dawson), with the help of their live-in maid, Ellen (Julie Walters).

Amid the chaos of a typical morning, a pair of stuffy solicitors (Jeremy Swift and Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) arrive to post a bank repossession notice on their front door.  Michael has been a bit absent-minded after his wife’s death. She used to handle all the domestic affairs while he worked as a bank teller.

So, now, he’s fallen behind on his house payment. This causes no small amount of consternation until it is vaguely remembered the adult siblings may have a certificate of shares in the very bank that wants the full amount of a loan—the bank, run by a dastardly manager (Colin Firth) where Michael is also employed.

Eventually, of course, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) glides down out of the clouds along with a kite young Georgie found in the attic to help the kids reconnect with their grown-ups,  as she did in the original 1964 movie starring Julie Andrews.

Here’s the rub. Some kids today may know the original movie and may even enjoy the music and be enchanted by the magical story, but I would venture it’s their parents, or more likely their grandparents, who would share a certain level of affection. And, certainly, the enormously talented Emily Blunt can act and can sing, but, sorry, she simply doesn’t possess the range of her predecessor in the role.

To me, any sequel that takes up decades after the original should do its best to stand alone as a singular work of cinematic art. One should not ever have to have seen the original to be able to enjoy it. And, yet, as we’ve seen in countless superhero soap operas, if you missed the previous flick you’re basically lost.

Mary Poppins is no Marvel superhero, but within the Disney realm, she kinda is. She has magical powers, possesses an uncanny preternatural knowledge of the world and can do things with her umbrella that Iron Man might envy.

As a stand-alone movie, "Mary Poppins Returns" is a bit of a stretch, especially with so many nods to the original peppered throughout its running time.

Credit is honestly due to director Rob Marshall and his extremely talented cast and crew, which includes a small army of old school film animators, for introducing a new generation to the Mary Poppins character. It is a truly valiant effort.

But, for good or ill, the world is a different place than it was when Dick Van Dyke sang “Chim Chim Cheree” or duetted with Julie Andrews for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” I would bet few leaving the theater today might be stuck with an earworm comparable to those extremely catchy 1964 songs.

It’s nostalgia, of course. But, it’s nostalgia shared by tragically few.

This film co-stars Lin-Manuel Miranda, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke and David Warner as Admiral Boom.

Tempo grade: C-

“Mary Poppins Returns” is rated PG for some mild thematic elements and brief action.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The Favourite

MPAA rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity and language.

Taos Community Auditorium

In this film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, the early 18th century England is at war with the French. Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving.

A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne, and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne's ill health and mercurial temper.

When a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone), arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah. Sarah takes Abigail under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance to return to her aristocratic roots.

As the politics of war become quite time-consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen's companion. Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions, and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way.

This film will be screened at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday (Dec. 28-29), at 2 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday (Dec. 30-Jan. 1), and 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday (Jan. 2-5) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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