‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is a marvelous, mystical, magical musical that revolves around the same siblings, Michael (Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Mortimer), from the story within the original Mary Poppins. There are three children in this rendition. The youngsters are, Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and little Georgie (Joel Dawson). Their father is Michael who’s now widowed. Not long after we meet him, Michael, missing his wife Kate terribly, sings a song called ‘A Conversation.’ In the song he asks Kate where she is. It’s depressing but quite moving. The lyrics at the end of it are, ‘But still, one question fills my day dear. The answer I’ve most longed to know. Each moment since you went away, dear. My question, Kate, is… Where’d You go?’ Heavy lyrics for a ‘family movie.’
This moment in the film is very different from the opening number that has Lin-Manuel Miranda’s, Jack the Lamplighter, singing and dancing while extinguishing the street lamps in, ‘(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky.’ You’ll be impressed with both numbers and already fully invested in this film. The score is gorgeous. The songs are passionate, and you’ll be ecstatic you made the choice to see this at the theatre rather than waiting. Trust me on that. And not only will you love it but it’s for everyone of all ages so bring the whole gang!
Something you’ll likely appreciate most is that some of the animation goes back to old-style Disney. It’s nostalgic, for certain, but its color is vibrant and brings about a feeling of happiness as you watch. It’ll also force smiles on every face in the audience. Color, cheer, happiness and smiles. Not a bad night out. This perfect recipe is a rare find in movies these days.
Set in Depression-era London, or the Great Slump of the 1930’s, Michael and the kids still live in the home that he and his activist sister, Jane, grew up in. Only now, he’s without his wife Kate who used to take care of the finances. Unfortunately, he’s having some money trouble of late, a lot of money trouble, and is about to lose their cherished home on Cherry Tree Lane. In fact, he has until midnight to pay a loan to the evil banker, William Weatherall Wilkins (Firth), that he took out against the house or they’re out in the streets. Seems there’s always an evil banker somewhere, doesn’t it? This one is particularly cruel and not so innocent. Think Potter from, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’
Enter the somewhat self-centered, Mary Poppins. Well, why not be at least moderately egotistical? After all, you can float down on an umbrella and change the lives of everyone you come into contact with. I think that deserves a little puffing of the chest. Yes. From up above, Mary Poppins, attached to the children’s kite, descends upon them once again. Jane and Michael admit to thinking she wasn’t ever real. Grown-ups, am I right? After an outstanding bathtub scene, a bowl is broken in the kids’ room. When this happens, the children are whisked away onto the bowl and begin to see fully what and who Mary Poppins is. There is a rather dark part here full of warnings and strong messages as they try to fix the bowl. The graphics during all of this is eye-popping, to say the least. They’re now in a fascinating world, being taught lesson after lesson. One of those lessons is to beware of what you only think you know… to never judge a book by its cover. This comes by way of the song ‘A Cover is Not the Book,’ which has some amusing lines. Here’s a peek. ‘A cover is not the book. So, open it up and take a look. ‘Cos under the covers one discovers. That the king may be a crook. Chapter titles are like signs and if you read between the lines. You’ll find your first impression was mistook. For a cover is nice but a cover is not the book!’ Each song of the soundtrack is easy to learn, and you’ll be singing along in the theatre before you know it!