Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Mary Poppins Returns

“Off we go!” with the new Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt)

 

“So long, Mary Poppins. Don’t stay away too long.”

So was one of the last lines of the 1964 classic that, 54 years later, is still arguably the best Disney live action film. Well, it has been over half a century since she graced our screens, and now we have Mary Poppins Returns, which does not live up completely to the original, but still is a delight to behold.

 

The sequel takes place about two decades after the first, during the great depression. It has been a year since the sudden death of the wife of Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw). He still is a loving kind father to his three children Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie (Joel Dawson). His sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) is still trying to help him out, even when it is discovered that Michael has to repay a loan or they will lose their house on Cherry Tree Lane. Things obviously do take a nice turn when Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt, more on her in a bit) swoops back into their lives.

As in the original, there is a plethora of characters. Lin-Manuel Miranda plays a light keeper named Jack, who takes on the counter-part to Blunt. Colin Firth is effective as the villainous banker Wilkins, and David Warner has fun as Admiral Boom, who still keeps the time on the hour.

There are some points where the movie does have faults. The action scene toward the end does seem a little far-fetched, and there is one scene involving Meryl Streep that, although a blast, does seemed a little tacked on. It does not completely add to the story.

The key to the movie is Emily Blunt. The original film made a star out of Julie Andrews (and won her an Oscar): It is an immortal performance. That being said, if there was any pressure for Blunt stepping into the role, she does not show an ounce of it. She is so effortless in her performance it is hard to remember we had worries about her being cast in the first place. Simply put, Blunt is practically perfect in every way.

Parents, there are some thematic elements, but as long as your kids have seen the first one, they are fine.

I have yet to mention the cameos at the end. It may be known to you who they are, but I won’t say in case you don’t. What I will say is that these two (undoubtably) legends still have gas in the tank at their ages.

Apparently, there are much more people out there than I thought that don’t like this movie. After you see it, you response will be along the lines of “Can you imagine that?”

 

Overall: Four Stars ****

Love Actually (2003)

Love Actually

Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson in “Love Actually”.

No matter how big the movie buff you may be, there is always at least one movie that escapes you and you have to catch up to see it (Roger Ebert said at one point he had never seen The Sound of Music). Well, over a decade late, I have finally caught up with seeing Love Actually, and I am glad I did.

That is not to say it is a perfect film. The movie centers around multiple couples in their love lives, and, for the most part, it works. The main reason why is that the director (Richard Curtis) used some of the best thespians at the time. Not movie stars, but thespians. They include (but are totally not limited to) Hugh Grant (playing the prime minister), (the late) Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney,  Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, and Keira Knightley. The film also has appearances by young soon to be stars such as Chiwetel Ejiofor (a decade before he made 12 Years a Slave), Martin Freeman (before he was Bilbo Baggins or Sherlock‘s Watson) and Andrew Lincoln (in the days before playing Rick on The Walking Dead).

It would take too much time for me to write down what each character is going through, and would ruin the surprise to those who may not yet have seen it. My personal favorite is of Colin Firth’s Jamie, a writer going through a breakup and meets a new house keeper named Aurelia (Lucia Moniz). The movie also gives us a look at “puppy love”, which I have always been a sap for.

If I had to cut a story, I would cut two of them. The first is with Martin Freeman’s John and Joanna Page’s “Just” Judy. I cared for these characters, and liked the acting. What I did not care for was the fact that they had to be porn stars. The other involves the character of Colin Frissell (Kris Marshall). Again, the acting is good, but, unlike most of the other stories, he is not looking for love, but sex. It does not add to the movie I feel.

Parents, the movie is not for kids, although (mature) High Schoolers and above would be ok. Just be wary, there is a lot of nudity that does not need to be in the film.

In the end, the film does wrap a big enough blanket around me that gave me a nice, fuzzy, cozy feeling. It ends with one of my personal favorite songs (“God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys), making you look at airports in a different way.

There is a scene in the film where a girl is singing “All I want for Christmas is you” by Mariah Carey. For the longest time, this song was on the Christmas radio station in my car so much I have grown to despise the song. Love Actually made me love the song. That alone is quiet the accomplishment.

Overall: Four Stars ****