I forget which exact episode of Friends it is, but there is a scene where Ross, Chandler, and Joey are having a Die Hard Marathon in Ross’s new apartment, and they just finished Die Hard and it’s time to put in the sequel. Here is the exact dialogue as follows:
Chandler: Die Hard, still great!
Joey: Hey, what do you say we make a double feature?
Ross: What else did you rent?
Joey: Die Hard 2!
Chandler: Joe, this is Die Hard 1 again.
Joey: Ohh..well if we watch it a second time then it’s Die Hard 2!
Ross: Joey we just saw it.
Ross: And it would be cool to see it again!
I just summed up for you MARY POPPINS RETURNS in a nutshell. While I am still mildly recommending the movie as a whole for a couple of things I’ll get to in a bit, Disney just pulled “The Force Awakens Effect” yet again. “The Force Awakens Effect” for those of you not in the know, is basically claiming a that movie is a sequel, when it is almost beat by beat the same exact story and plot of the original film. But seriously…if you had complaints that The Force Awakens was beat by beat too close to A New Hope, Mary Poppins Returns is tapping your shoulder right now and asking you to hold its spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down. Mary Poppins returns to help out the children of the children she helped in the first movie, and instead of trying to make the now older Michael realize not to neglect his kids like his father was taught, she tries to make older Michael realize that home is wherever you make it if you have your family by your side, and to appreciate his kids more. Wait…what? It’s essentially the same thing, with a minor twist. Just like everything else is in this movie. It’s the closest thing that Disney can make a remake without calling it a remake.
Instead of a picture that Mary Poppins and the kids go into full of brilliant animation, it is now a ceramic bowl. Instead of a spoon full of sugar and Mary Poppins helping the kids tidy of their room, it is now just a different non memorable song with them taking a bath tidying up themselves. Instead of a chimney chim chim cha roo with some very talented chimney sweepers, it’s a new song called “Trip A Little Light Fantastic” and instead of chimney sweepers, its now lamp lighters, but it’s the same dark cinematography and matte imagery and intricate dance choreography. All of this is surrounded by Colin Firth trying his best to act like an asshole and the family has to find this certificate of shares that the children’s father left them or they lose the old house we know and love so well.
This movie is beat by beat by beat by plot point by plot point by plot point the exact same film as the original, with just some minor tweaks here and there from it being a shot by shot remake. It’s just Disney being safe. They know that safe works (see Force Awakens) and they know that going outside the box may not (see The Star Wars Prequels and I guess see some dumb fan boys’ view of The Last Jedi). They know that just bringing in an older version of the children from the first film, but now focuses on their children will give audience enough sweet sweet memberberries to chew on while watching the movie. It’s kind of sad that you could’ve even done something similar yet different of all new kids, in a all new setting, with a different plot, more attune with The Force Awakens, and yet they still didn’t go that route. And while the movie was entertaining and held my attention, I just felt kind of eh through the whole thing because I know I had seen it all before.
Okay, now let’s get to the good stuff where I’m actually giving this film a minor “thumbs up.” Emily Blunt is always amazing in my eyes, and here she is no different. She steals every scene. She is the only other person in my eyes I deem fit to play Mary Poppins other than Julie Andrews (Andrews was in her early 20s playing the role and Blunt is 35, yes, they do have an age joke or two). She can sing, dance, and do anything. She’ll win an Academy Award one day, but not for this. Let the Oscar be still with Julie Andrews for this character. And Lin Manuel Miranda (yes, he kind of raps at one point in this as expected) is great too here. Every since Hamilton he’s been on this rise, and even with this things will just keep getting better for him. Yes, Dick Van Dyke is in this for about 3 to 5 minutes, has a minor little dance number where my jaw was on the floor considering he is 93 years old.
I also appreciated when they went into that animated world we all knew she was going to take the kids into that they didn’t just cop out and try to make them interact with Pixar like animated characters. No, they go back to home grown, home spun 2D animation, and it was brilliant enough for me to crave a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? even though I hope they never make one and if they do that it isn’t just another soft reboot/remake like this one is. And yes, Meryl Streep is in this (she’s got to be in everything, ugh), however, she’s only in one scene, one musical number, and then she’s out for the rest of the picture, and she wasn’t annoying, and she was quite good).
Unfortunately, as I remember the kids quite fondly in the original movie, the kids in this aren’t memorable at all in the fact that I’ve already forgotten what they look like. And while this film is a musical, and there is a song and dance thing every ten minutes, they in no way even touch the classic songs of the original. In fact, I can only remember two songs being fantastic, “A Cover Is Not The Book” and “Nowhere To Go But Up” and the latter isn’t until the very very end of the film.
But the film is harmless, is entertaining, and in some parts even fun, even though it’s just a melting pot of the original film. I completely recommend this to people who haven’t even seen the first one or haven’t seen the first one in a long time. For God’s sake, don’t watch the original right before you go and see this or you are going to regret it. It’s a decent family film, what more could you ask around the holidays? Well, I could ask that Bumblebee never existed, but that’s like asking for a billion dollars…