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Mary Poppins Returns a ‘surprising delight’

Courtesy photo

Courtesy photo

Originally Published: January 2, 2019 9:42 a.m.

Mary Poppins Returns was a surprising delight for me. I did not believe that any film could match the wonder of the 1964 Julie Andrews film. This version of the Poppins story comes close.

There are many parts of Mary Poppins Returns that pay homage to the original with new music and dance.

But even if that original did not exist, this would be a hit.

The story takes place a few decades after the original. Jane and Michael Banks are adults, living in London in the same house as their parents.

Michael (Ben Whishaw) is recently widowed, with three children. His sister, Jane (Emily Mortimer), is unmarried.

Trouble for the family arises when they are told by the head of the bank, Mr. Wilkins (Colin Firth), that they have to pay off the home mortgage by the end of the month, or they will lose the house.

Michael, who works at the bank, had no idea; he thought the financing was all arranged by his father using interest-bearing securities. Michael and Jane start to turn the house inside out looking for the documents.

Wilkins is not sympathetic; he wants the house.

Gloom overcomes the family at the prospect of losing their beloved home.

Then we are introduced to a London lamplighter, Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), who used to be the chimney sweep.

He sings and dances as he plies his trade and helps the Banks family get through the day.

Then, out of the sky, through the London fog, comes Mary Poppins.

Jack, Michael and Jane immediately remember her and are pleased to see her, but they have no idea if she can help them. Of course, we are more optimistic.

Emily Blunt plays Mary Poppins. She is wonderful in the role, singing beautifully, dancing, and especially acting the part. She appears and proclaims herself the children’s’ nanny. Mary has a walking stick that has a personality and a tote bag that is carrying various accoutrements she uses to charm and calm the kids.

All the musical numbers are original, although several are reminiscent of the Julie Andrews/Dick Van Dyke numbers.

The costumes, the music and the cinematography in several fantasy scenes are dazzling.

In addition to Emily’s fine performance, the other characters all do well. Meryl Streep appears as Mary’s loopy cousin, Topsy, in a dizzying song and dance scene.

Dick Van Dyke shows up, as does Angela Lansbury, in key scenes. And how amazing to see Van Dyke, at age 93, trip the lights fantastic in his one scene appearance.

The choreography in some parts is outstanding. That’s especially true when Jack rallies a large corps of leeries (lamplighters) in a lively romp on the rooftops and lamp posts of the city.

Mary Poppins Returns is a thoroughly entertaining movie, with excellent performances. Even if you have little or no memory of the original, see this version. You will leave the theater with a smile and a few wet tissues.

Mary Poppins Returns is showing at the Harkins Sedona 6 theater.