The magical and mysterious Mary Poppins is back again in London to help out the Banks family in Mary Poppins Returns, a new sequel from Walt Disney Pictures.
Yes, this film is a sequel to, not a remake of, the classic 1964 film which starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, et al. Author P.L. Travers wrote eight Mary Poppins books, so it’s not like it’s a totally out-there idea to do a sequel, even if it’s been over 50 years since the first film was released. However, with the current remake-happy management team running the Walt Disney Studios, a sequel originally sounded like a creatively bereft idea, at least to me. The 1964 film is such an iconic work that I felt this possibly could be a very misguided, reductive, and disastrous project.
However, now that I’ve seen the film, I have put those worrisome thoughts to rest because this sequel is pure delight. It’s definitely an homage to the 1964 original (I believe the filmmakers have been referring to this new film as a “love letter” to the original), but it also stands on its own as a high quality, highly entertaining, and highly emotional (in a good way) classic Hollywood musical.
Here’s a fun little featurette about the film:
The story picks up 25 years after the original. Jane and Michael Banks have grown up. Michael (played by Ben Whishaw) is, sadly, a widower who is raising his three children on his own and has also fallen on hard financial times. Jane (played by Emily Mortimer) is an activist (taking after her mother) and a devoted sister and aunt, but the family is still in a bit of a crisis.
Enter Mary Poppins (wonderfully played by Emily Blunt), who flies back in to 17 Cherry Tree Lane to get the Banks family back on track in her own unique and enchanting way. Also along for the ride is Jack the lamplighter (or “leery”; expertly played by Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda) in the sidekick role similar to Dick Van Dyke’s Bert in the original.
The entire cast is stellar. It also includes Julie Waters as the Banks’ family maid, Colin Firth as president of the bank where Mr. Banks used to work and where Michael Banks is currently employed, Meryl Streep as Mary Poppins’ cousin Topsy, Angela Lansbury as the balloon lady, and even Dick Van Dyke himself shows up in a brief but meaningful cameo.
Along with the great cast, the film’s creative team are the ones who really brought this positive and whimsical film to life. Director Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods) along with the terrific songwriting team of Marc Shaiman and Scott Whittman (Hairspray) have been able to create a new film in which everything old is new again and which, like the original, doesn’t have a snarky or cynical bone in it.
Take your family and friends over the Christmas holiday to experience this charming, cathartic, and optimistic film together.
Mary Poppins Returns is rated PG by the MPAA for “some mild thematic elements and brief action.”
My score: 5 out of 5 stars
And as an added bonus, here are a couple of fantastic posters for the film.
A new poster, trailer, and official name dropped today for Marvel Studios‘ next Avengers movie, Avengers: Endgame. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love these Marvel Studios movies?!) We’ll find out what our superheroes do to defeat the evil Thanos on April 26, 2019.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has announced the 14 films that will be included in their 2019 Big Screen Classics series. TCM screens these films in movie theaters across the U.S.A., giving film lovers the chance to see classic films on the big screen as they were intended to be seen. Also included with each screening is commentary before and after the film from Ben Mankiewicz and other TCM hosts that provides context, insights, and other pertinent details about the film. All in all, it’s always a great time at the movie theater.
It’s all about Christmas movies this month. In the podcast, I give a review of the musical Scrooge (1970), one of my favorite film retellings of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The film is available on Amazon.
Nine films were previously announced for the festival. Now today, TCM has announced five more films, including the opening night film, When Harry Met Sally with director Rob Reiner and actors Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in attendance.
With the theme of “Follow Your Heart: Love at the Movies,” the festival lineup is starting to take shape. The other four films announced today fall right into the festival’s theme:
The Clock (1945), romantic drama starring Judy Garland and Robert Walker; directed by Vincente Minnelli
Indiscreet (1958), romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman; directed by Stanley Donen
Love in the Afternoon (1957), romantic comedy starring Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn; written and directed by Billy Wilder
Mad Love (1935), the horror/obsession film starring Peter Lorre and Frances Drake; directed by Karl Freund
Also, the TCM network will celebrate its 25th anniversary on closing night of the festival. It’s all exciting stuff for classic film lovers! We hope to see you in Hollywood in April!
Last month’s Turner Classic Movies‘ Big Screen Classics film was Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939). I can’t stop thinking about it, particularly given the current mood in the United States of America.
As you know, the film is about an idealistic man named Jefferson Smith (played by James Stewart) who is appointed as United States senator by the governor of an unnamed state after one of the state’s senators dies while in office. The state’s governor along with the state’s other U.S. senator, Joseph Harrison “Joe” Paine (played by the great Claude Rains), are actually both rather corrupt and are puppets to business interests in the state, and, with Smith being rather naive, they feel like they can preoccupy his time so he’ll stay out of their way.
After Smith becomes savvy about what’s really going on, he gets framed and is about to get kicked out of the senate. He decides to return home, but his secretary (played by Jean Arthur), who sees him for the decent and honest man that he is, finds him on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and helps him see a different path (see clip below).
She reminds him that Abraham Lincoln also had his own political foes and vicissitudes. She reminds him about the importance of having faith in “something bigger.” And she reminds him that he has “plain, decent, everyday, common rightness” and that the country “could use some of that.”
I am reminded of the words of Abraham Lincoln on the walls of his memorial: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…”
I hope I can remember these words of goodness and truth, even in dark and challenging times. The hope of America lives on—in the memorable character of Jefferson Smith, in the words of Abraham Lincoln which we can read and ponder today, and in all of us, if we so choose.