Culture

“Mary Poppins Returns”: A playful romp into sentimentality

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Story by Jayden Jones, Reporter
Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

The resurrection of one of childhood’s most important nannies warranted a trip to the movie theater. Wedged comfortably on the recliner seats between my sister and my (ecstatic) father, the lights dimmed and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s now world-renowned voice floated through the streets of London. Immediately it was clear: “Mary Poppins” was reborn.

Amidst familiar stormy skies and blustering winds, Mary Poppins, played by Emily Blunt, returns to a Cherry Tree Lane that is visually the same, but much changed. Michael and Jane, now grown, have, in a way, stepped into the shoes that their parents once filled. Michael is a dutiful bank employee and Jane is a labor organizer. The next generation of Banks children, Annabel, John, and Georgie are self sufficient, independent children, accustomed to looking after themselves in the wake of their mother’s (Michael’s wife) recent death.

Michael, an absent-minded, yet well-intentioned man, has become financially unable to maintain the Banks family home and, due to the backhanded treachery of William Wilkins, the corrupt president of the Federal Fiduciary Bank, is unable to recover the shares that his father left for himself and Jane in order to keep the house. This air of helplessness is ultimately what summons Mary Poppins, floating in on her umbrella, to bring some much-needed color into the lives of the Banks children.

Sonically wonderful and vividly imaginative, arguably the best part of “Mary Poppins Returns” was its tributes to the heroes of the original film. Dick van Dyke’s scene, as well as the spontaneous appearance of Angela Lansbury, brought a feeling of warmth and kindness, which is often lacking in many Disney remakes.

However, while the chance to reenter the enchanting world of Mary Poppins is always worth it, take away the music, the costumes and the cleverness, and the purpose of the story was left wanting for something. The plotline seemed to be more focused on memorializing and reinvigorating an old favorite instead of using a beloved character to tell a new story, to teach a new lesson.

Indeed, as wonderful it is to be able to dive back into the past at leisure, it is important that we do not forget the value of new stories, tapping new emotions, and creating new bonds.

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