"Well, what do you know?"I leaned over to whisper to my husband as the final credits began to roll, "Disney does still know how to make magical movies."
It was late December and we were sitting in a local movie theatre with our three daughters (ages 12, 9, and 6) for a sold out showing of "Mary Poppins Returns."
Because we are all fans of the original "Mary Poppins," we walked in with both high hopes and low expectations. After all, could anyone create a film with the same magic and charisma as the 1964 classic, starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke?
Our worries were needless, however. From the opening scene to the final credits, we all were mesmerized.
Emily Blunt was spot-on as the never-aging and perfectly polished nanny. She nailed the part - from her tone of voice to the characteristic way she placed her feet as she flew gracefully down from the sky.
As for the Bert-inspired character, Lin-Manuel Miranda shines as a cheerful cockney lamplighter and former apprentice of Bert. His down-to-earth, jolly demeanor was truly reminiscent of the Bert we all have loved from our childhoods.
The plot was quite good and - dare I say it? - better than the original film's. I appreciated that Michael Banks is a more loving father than his own was. As for Jane, she is hopeful and helpful - exactly how you might picture the child in the first movie as a grown-up.
The three Banks children were also well-cast. They played their parts with sincerity & heart...and now I want to dress my children head-to-toe in London-inspired clothing from the 1930s.
As for Colin Firth, he was a delightfully debonair and greedy villain. Obviously with wayward intentions, yet not too scary. And, in the end, he receives his comeuppance.
Finally, I am giving a standing ovation for Dick Van Dyke's amazing dancing skills. He may have been 91 at the time of the film, but the twinkle in his eyes and the spring in his step remain the same as they were 55 years ago.
Angela Lansbury, also 91 during the making of the film, was a positively charming balloon lady. (It is a shame that Julie Andrews didn't take this part for nostalgic purposes, but Lansbury was lovely regardless).
The only scene that didn't ring true for me was in the animated world, when Jack and Mary take the stage to sing "A Cover is Not the Book." An excellent message overall, but the lyrics were confusing and unnecessarily racy (even creepily so- feel free to read the lyrics - I'll wait). Also: all of my kids and I decried the Wonka-ish haircut that Mary had. Too modern and not at all flattering (said in my very best Mary Poppins voice).
We also wished that there would have been just one reference to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."
These are minor critiques, however. The truth is that I laughed. I cried. I smiled from ear-to-ear. I couldn't resist tapping my toes to the tunes.
If you know me, you know that it is rare for me to watch movies twice and it is even more rare for me to want to own a copy. Like Mary Poppins, I am a tough critic and settle for only the very best. It is with great surprise then, that I am recommending this movie without reservation and telling everyone that I can't wait to own a copy. In truth, this film was - like its namesake- almost practically perfect in every way.