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Thread: MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Rob Marshal 2018)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Rob Marshal 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.

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

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Utah, USA

    Nice Movie But Doesn't Stand Up To the Original

    Took the time to see the original version of Mary Poppins recently before I saw this sequel. I grew up experiencing Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins as a child and again I re-experienced the gaiety and the lightness, and the many memorable songs, songs that seem to keep playing in one's head long after the movie ends. The sequel is more of a pale update to the original movie; but I would agree with Chris that it does have its charms and as a contemporary nanny movie it does credit to its origins. Nevertheless, I think the movie tries too hard to be both its own movie and also attempts to retain some of the original magic. In doing so, this likely impossible feat makes for a rather unfair comparison. In some ways, maybe each generation should let each generation have their own Mary Poppins instead.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I've no right to post anything here. As Chris so aptly put to me, "If you haven't seen the film, there's nothing you can say." Let me explain that in 1963, from her red-hot engagement as Guinevere on Broadway and Eliza Doolittle, stage actress Julie Andrews went back to England and shot "The Americanization of Emily" during which she got pregnant. Enamored with her great range, her sparkling personality and her wonderful wit, he (Walt) pictured no one else as Mary and even delayed the production to include her. When Jack Warner announced at the same time he intended to cast "My Fair Lady," everyone assumed Andrews would take the role and turn down Disney. Warner, who didn't like Andrews from the start because she "stood up to him," offered the part to Audrey Hepburn who had a "bankable" past for investors that insured "My Fair Lady's" success. With no barriers, Andrews accepted Disney's offer and it sent shockwaves through the actor's guild and equity on Broadway. A year later when the two film's premiered, critics lambasted Hepburn as having a "dubbed" voice. When it came to awards season, no one voted for her, for Audrey. She paid the price for Jack Warner's arrogance. Andrews, on the other hand, used "Poppins" as a spring board and went on to star in the biggest box office musical of all time... until Beauty and the Beast (live action) a few years ago.

    I can't begin to explain the popularity of Mary Poppins that year. It trounced "My Fair Lady" at the box office. People loved it. It didn't have the pretentious feel that "My Fair Lady" had. Andrews became the darling of the press and the public. The songs (some are downright silly) were still overshadowed by the talent that delivered them. Andrews renditions of "Spoonful of sugar," "Feed the Birds" or "Chim-Chimney" or even "Go to sleep" are sweet, clear, bright, precise, delivered with vibrancy. Her voice cut through the orchestrations with such clarity. No one until Barbra Streisand ever did that.

    So when they started teasing about a sequel, my first reaction was... "Why the hell didn't they do it forty years ago when Julie Andrews still had her voice?" Listen to "I could have danced all night" from the Broadway version and compare it to Marnie Nixon's version from the film. There's no comparison. Andrews wins hands down. She came along as the perfect voice for those shows where she could shine - "My Fair Lady" "Camelot" "The Sound of Music" and "Mary Poppins" all performed within a ten year period. I'm sorry. We're talking about a film that built people's hopes up and then what... did it let them down? I guess I will just have to buck it up and do as Chris always advises - "Go see the film, Bill, and THEN tell us what you think!" Ok, ok... if I must.
    Last edited by cinemabon; 03-01-2019 at 04:53 PM.
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