Back in 1964, Julie Andrews made her film debut by playing without a doubt the most magical nanny in the history of film with Mary Poppins. Now 54 years later, the sequel arrives to Cherry Tree Lane and the big question is this: Is it as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as the original? Almost, but as we know and certainly in this particular instance, nothing will ever compete with the original.
We pick up the events 20 years after the events of the first film and Jane and Michael Banks (Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw) dealing with the death of Michael’s wife, leaving him motherless with three children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) and also facing possibly losing their dear old home on 17 Cherry Tree Lane. However, the winds in the east start to blow fortune their way again by the arrival of none other than Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt). Once she reenters their lives, she still remains the same woman whose “practically perfect in every way,” yet still reminding Michael to close his mouth; he’s not a codfish.
Mary Poppins arrives to be once again be a nanny to Michael’s children and just like in the original, she takes them on a series of adventures. One of them being transported to an underwater world where they meet Aquaman. Oops, sorry. Wrong movie. Another features a sequence where an antique china bowl gets cracked and they enter through the bowl where one of the movie’s best animated sequences takes place.
In addition to Mary Poppins, Jane and Michael, and his kids, we also get a slew of new characters but the main standout is the lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) who serves as kind of spiritual successor to Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep, Bert. He joins them on the adventures.
Speaking of successors, Emily Blunt does make a fine one to Julie Andrews bringing the same spirit and wonder she brought to the original. I was initially skeptical of her casting, but she wows in nearly every scene she’s in. The rest of the cast works just as good: Miranda, Whishaw, Colin Firth as a bank manager, and even Meryl Streep as Mary Poppins’ eccentric cousin deliver the same amount of convincing energy and joyous zest as some of the characters from the original.
The visuals and musical numbers are very impressive even if some of the songs don’t have the same resonance. Although there are some sequences that are nothing short of dazzling like the aforementioned ones and another involving Jack doing his own tribute to “Step In Time” with a group of his own lamplighters.
If I could describe this sequel in one phrase, it would unabashed nostalgia. It’s hard not to be reminded of the original in a lot of scenes (Many Easter eggs from the first one pop up), but i guess it’s not fair to compare it either.
Nevertheless, this movie will give audiences the spoonful of sugar it deserves.
(Rated PG for some mild thematic elements and brief action.)