Director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into The Woods) takes on the task of following up the 1964 classic. Starring Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw (Paddington), Emily Mortimer (Harry Brown) and Colin Firth (Bridget Jones).
The first thing to say is that while I can admire the original film I am not a massive fan. So my expectations may have been lower than a die-hard fan of Julie Andrews incarnation.
Emily Blunt plays Mary Poppins in her own way and is quite brilliant. Poppins is both stern and playfully funny. Lady Gaga may have a rival for the Oscar. Whenever she is offscreen the magic suffers somewhat. Case in point being that the new Dick Van Dyke, “Jack” (played by Lin-Manuel Miranda ), is a less successful character. Miranda, while a very accomplished performer, lacks the star quality or chemistry with Mary Poppins and the kids. Speaking of which the kids are all excellent.
This sequel is a complete success. It feels like a natural continuation of the story. The music is great, acting superb, it looks great, it is funny and very emotional in a couple of scenes. I did shed a tear and almost clapped a couple of times! The end is a true antidote to the troubled times we live in. I went in having been rather down after reading the news and for the two hours running time forgot all about the doom and gloom of real life.
There are a few minor niggles. The set piece numbers do feel rather stagey (not surprising given Marshall’s background) and the story elements could have been given more time to breathe between them. I could also have done without Meryl Streep. A cameo towards the end is a big “honk!”
Should you go see it: Yes. A spoon full of sugar for these dark times (had to be done!). Also, leave your cynical hat at the door.