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 ****

Brooklyn (2015)

 

Brooklyn

Saoirse Ronan takes her first job in “Brooklyn”.

 

 

 

The story, when you think of it, really seems kind of cliche, almost like a chick flick. Still, Brooklyn (based off a book of the same name) works mainly due to the lead performance.

Even before I saw Brooklyn, I was aware of how talented an actress the 21 year old Saoirse Ronan is (though I am still trying to learn how to pronounce her name).

Already an Oscar Nominee for Supporting Actress in 2007’s Atonement (unseen by me as of this review), it was in 2011’s underated Hanna (she plays a young trained soldier you don’t want to mess with) where I noticed her talents of carrying a movie with acting skill rarely seen at her age. She will certaintly be around for some time.

In Brooklyn (set in the early 1950s), she plays a young woman named Eilis Lacey. She is taking the advice of her loving Sister Rose (Fiona Glascott) and leaving her home country of Ireland. Life there is pretty decent (despite working for one heck of a horrible boss every Sunday after mass),  but her future there does not look very promising (her friends are seeing guys before she is). She takes the advice and travels to the United States (learning some things along the way).

She is sponsored by a Priest, Father Flood (Jim Broadbent, fitting the role as easy as ever) to go to school to learn bookkeeping. She is in a boarding home run by Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters, who adds more spice to the dinner table scenes than anything on the food. She is wonderful.) She gets a job in a department store. Still, life in America the first few weeks is scary.

Then one night, she meets an Italian boy named Tony (Emory Cohen, who is stellar). Eventually, we know they will fall in love, but we don’t know (or at least I did not know) that the path they will take to falling in love would be so real. This is a true love story, with two real people talking about real things. It is the scenes between Eilis and Tony that give the movie the wings to be great. Despite good directing by John Crowley, the main reason for the entire films effect lies in the chemistry between this two young people.

Eventually, something happens in Ireland that forces Eilis to go back (not before meeting Tony’s family, including a scene stealing little brother). Why she goes back, and what happens is something I will not say, except I felt the movie lagged a bit during these scenes (though not entirely).

Parents, the movie is rated PG-13 for some language, but mainly for one scene of sexuality. It lasts maybe a few minutes, but there is no nudity (basically, if your kid saw The Fault in our Stars, I think they would be fine with this film).

In the end, the movie rests entirely on the performance of Saoirse Ronan. I took acting classes before in college, and one of the hardest things for me to do personally was to cry. Ronan does so with such ease you want to almost go up and hug the screen. Her acting is both not visible yet still strongly effective, which is something we may expect out of a Streep or a Day-Lewis or a De Niro or Pacino. If that is not a good enough compliment, I don’t know what is.

Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2