**This review will be relatively spoiler free. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen any plot points I mention.
Mary Poppins Returns is a good movie. I enjoyed it. The story is cute; the songs fit. The score is exciting, especially with a few throwbacks to the original movie. What I didn’t like is the title. Mary Poppins Returns sounds like a sequel, and a sequel means the characters will have the same personalities. The characters are grown up and a little different, but we expect to see some similarities. The Bert-like character, Jack, even had some similarities to Bert and it felt natural.
Unfortunately, Mary Poppins was just a little too different. The original, Julie Andrews version of the character was always disciplined and proper. Yes, she could jump into a chalk drawing, but nothing about jumping into the the chalk drawing was whimsical. It was a matter-of-fact business that should be done properly. Then, once inside the chalk drawing, she relaxed and enjoyed the environment. When Mary Poppins flew up to the ceiling to bring her laughing friends back to the ground, she was stern and focused on what needed to be done. Emily Blunt’s interpretation embraced the whimsy instead. She smiled and laughed and encouraged childishness. Even in the preview, you could see the whimsy on her face as she falls into the sudsy bathtub. I liked the put-together Mary Poppins, and this new almost silly Mary was not quite the same.
My other major complaint was the lack of continuity with the film Saving Mr. Banks. Saving Mr. Banks was a wonderful movie that gave us the background on how Walt Disney got the film rights for Mary Poppins. It’s an emotional story and a fan favorite.
After watching Mary Poppins Returns, there was a conversation between Walt and P.L. Travers that I just couldn’t get out my head. When Mrs. Travers protests to having whimsy in the movie, Walt grumbles, “No whimsy or sentiment says the woman who sent a flying nanny with a talking umbrella to save the children.” To which Mrs. Travers replies, “You think Mary Poppins has come to save the children, Mr. Disney? … Oh, dear.” Her point, of course, is that Mary Poppins had come to save their father, Mr. Banks. When Mary Poppins shows up in the new movie, she contradicts this entire statement and says she’s “come to look after the Banks children.” This is a small plot point, but for those of us who loved Saving Mr. Banks, it felt like a step backwards.
Overall, the movie was still good. Is it bad that Mary Poppins was more whimsical or that they ignored a previous movie that maybe wasn’t canon? Absolutely not. In a world where we’ve seen three different Spiderman reboots in 15 years, changing the story is fine. And honestly, Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins actually fits the book better than the original movie. When I read the Mary Poppins books a few years ago, I was surprised at all the whimsy in the books and how Mary Poppins reacted to it. Emily Blunt’s portrayal of the character was much closer to the literary version. However, it still is a different Mary Poppins than Julie Andrews gave us. And if it’s a different Mary Poppins, is she really returning? Should this movie really be considered a sequel?
In the end, this movie seemed to be more of a reboot, not a sequel. It was a fun movie, and I’ll definitely watch again. I’d just prefer it be called Mary Poppins Again.