Rating (3 out of 5)
Summary: “Mary Poppins Returns” provides another decent offering for kids but don’t expect “Returns” to rival the original. The songs and fantasy scenes were not as engaging as the original. Admittedly, I have seen the original “Mary Poppins” quite a few times. A slightly darker and more complicated plot dragged on the film.
If you have children, then “Returns” is a quality film for them to watch. If you a devoted fan of the original, you might be disappointed.
Plot: Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) is about to lose his house to the bank after his wife died. He is having trouble keeping it all together, and Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) arrives to preserve the family.
Detail: Comparing both movies against one another, you can’t help notice there is a lack of energy from each character compared to the original. The opening sequence describes the difference; “Mary Poppins” starts off with the “Sister Suffragette” and “The Life I Lead” songs, which captures you right away and are fun. Compare this to the “Returns” starting with an adequate number with “Lovely London Sky” by Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) and then “A Conversation” which is a melancholy song. The tone was completely different.
You can’t help compare “Returns” to the original. The simple plot of the original film made the storytelling easy. Songs and dance numbers were inserted, just for fun. “Returns”, our mother is dead which is sad enough, but we are also about to lose our house. The young children help to find money to save the house. The plot wasn’t as light-hearted and innocent.
The songs aren’t catchy. I observed my foot tapping along to the songs, or having the chorus stuck in my head. The song at the Royal Doulton Music Hall “A Cover Is Not The Book” felt forced and didn’t have pizzaz and frivolity I expected. The songs themselves weren’t horrible, but also they weren’t memorable.
Only adequate choreography also prevented the film from being anything more than average. High School Musical had better arrangements than “Returns”.