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Thread: MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Rob Marshal 2018)

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    MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Rob Marshal 2018)

    ROB MARSHALL: MARY POPPINS RETURNS (2018)



    Mary Poppins is a nanny. With magic, who sings, dances, and can fly.

    What is a nanny? Are there nannies anymore? One may guess they're somewhat thin on the ground these days, a full-time caretaker for one's kids now become strictly a purview of the rich. It's not certain this really matters because, after all, nannies never could really fly. This sequel to the 1964 Julie Andrews popular and critical hit moves the time from 1910 to 1933 - still a time when nannies were the thing. The focus, still timely now, is money. The same house is occupied by the offspring of the same family, the Banks, or by the son, Michael (Ben Whishaw), his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) living nearby. It's not clear Michael's looking for a nanny, as their parents were, but he's in a financial mess, and needs help, fast.

    His wife has recently died, and on top of bereavement the house is threatened with seizure by the bank. He borrowed, and he missed three months' payments. He needs to find bank notes that belonged to his grandfather, but he's lost them. He's also frustrated, an artist - one of his sketches is pasted to a kite - and forced to work as a clerk at the very bank that's breathing down his neck.

    Down from the sky comes Mary Poppins, in the person of Emily Blunt, replacing Julie Andrews. This doesn't suit the fans. They say Emily is a good actress, and can even sing and dance, but she lacks the lightness and purity of Julie. She is too dour, they say. Maybe she's just too complex, or conversely this is too simple a role for her. But she doesn't appear condescending, or, rather, Mary Poppins is a figure so accomplished it is natural for her to seem a bit that way.

    This whole movie may lack the lightness of the original. It's songs, written by different people, may not be as good as the original's - even if a fan may grant the original songs aren't stupendous either. But this is a well-oiled machine, impressively made, and often lovely to look upon. Watch especially at two magical sequences, where Mary Poppins and the three children enter into a marine world through the family bath tub; and into a Royal Doulton bowl accompanied by period-perfect Disney animated cartoon figures. Or look at the dance of the lamplighters, headed by Jack, played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created Hamilton, and here sings and dances in a counterpart to Dick Van Dyke's role in the original. (The inexhaustible Dick is back here for a small but important and climactic role.) Emily Blunt's song-and-dance routines may be only routine, but she shines in a music hall turn where she drops her posh accent and sings in cockney.

    As a non-fan with no memory of the original and no special taste for a feel-good nostalgic British musical made by Disney, the defects don't matter. How much would I like the original anyway? It would be a shame if Mary Poppins Returns bombs, because it is beautiful. It seems already a pity it's being trounced at the box office by Aquaman. The old Mary Poppins was made at Disney's Burbank studios, but this time, no expense has been spared in making the sets in England, in London and in Surrey at the Shepperton Studios, ensuring they be as rich and authentic recreations as possible of either Depression-era London, or fantasy worlds.

    Colin Firth is a baddie as a bank director sworn to keep Michael from making his payments even as he gives him a full deadline to midnight to make them. It's a play-role for Firth; he never plays evil, but as Manohla Dargis says here he "all but twirls his mustache." Ben Whishaw, by the way, gets too angry and harsh at times.

    The movie gets lost in an elaborate sequel of Michael racing against the clock, with lamplighters climbing Big Ben to turn it back, lost fragments pasted to a kite, and the super nanny, Mary Poppins, standing apart to manipulate it all. It all becomes a bit tedious and you realize this is why the movie is too long (though the original was longer). A flying nanny with magic powers shouldn't need over two hours to strut her stuff. She's the kind of nanny who shows up to fix things, and the flies away. Except everybody, everybody good that is, gets to fly into the sky, and that's nice. But we didn't need every cameo - Meryl Streep doing one of her put-on accents, Angela Landsbury (now ninety-three: hurray) a sweet little balloon seller lady, with its own special song. Enough, already!

    Mary Poppins Returns, 130 mins., opened in Los Angeles 29 Nov. 2018, and in US cinemas 19 Dec. Metascore 65.


    ROYAL DOULTON SEQUENCE
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-31-2018 at 01:01 PM.

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