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Early reviews for Mary Poppins Returns find long-awaited sequel a whimsical good time

Contributed by
Dec 12, 2018

After the early reactions to Disney's Mary Poppins Returns proved to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (that means ‘good,’ right? We’re…we’re going to go ahead and assume that means ‘good’) it’s looking like several critics are giving the sequel to the classic film high marks.

The film currently has an 80 percent ‘freshness’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, with a number of critics praising Emily Blunt’s portrayal of the magical nanny (played by Julie Andrews in the original 1964 movie), including Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, who calls Blunt “practically perfect in every way in a Mary Poppins sequel that uncannily recreates the original's wholesome studio-system vibe.”

Meanwhile, David Rooney from the Hollywood Reporter called Mary Poppins Returns a “thoroughly entertaining treat of a movie,” opining that this “lovingly crafted production delivers both nostalgia and novelty.”

“Emily Blunt, holding the movie in her impeccably gloved hands, makes Mary Poppins her own,” writes critic Moira Macdonald in her four-star review for the movie in the Seattle Times, adding: “But this is no one-woman show; every role here is cast perfectly, from Lin-Manuel Miranda's song-and-dance man to Meryl Streep’s enchantingly goofball cameo.”

Although Johnny Oleksinski believes that composers’ “Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s new songs pale in comparison to the original’s plucky exuberance and ageless melodies,” he admitted in his 3.5-star review for the New York Post that apart from that, “this heartfelt film is practically perfect in every other way.”

Now, several critics pointed out this sequel pales in comparison to the original but that’s okay. Brian Lowry of CNN calls the film “perfectly passable, but well short of practically perfect.” Meanwhile, Slate’s Dana Stevens noted in her ultimately positive review that this sequel “may not be strictly necessary, but it's more than sufficient.”

However, some critics did not provide a spoonful of sugar for the medicine (i.e., negative reviews) they provided.

Mary Poppins Returns, and she really shouldn’t have,” reads the headline for Justin Chang’s review in the Los Angeles Times. “Mary Poppins Returns winds up feeling both hyperactive and paralyzed,” writes Chang. “It sits there flailing on the screen, bright, gaudy and mirthless, tossing off strained bits of comic business and all but strangling itself with its own good cheer.”

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich was also not charmed by this “Sweet But Imaginatively Bankrupt Sequel,” writing in his C-plus review: “Mary Poppins may steel the Banks children for the future, but her perfunctory new adventure only leaves us wishing to return to the way things were.”

Written by Finding Neverland scribe David Magee and directed by Rob Marshall of Into the Woods fame, Mary Poppins Returns takes place 25 years after the original. In Depression-era London, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) and his children are grieving over a tragic loss, bringing Mary back to take care of the now-extended Banks family.

Emily Mortimer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, and Colin Firth also star in the musical film.

Mary Poppins returns to theaters on December 19.

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