The problem with Mary Poppins is that there are no problems with Mary Poppins. She is clean, inoffensive, and family friendly.
That all seems great, right? Well, yes, but to a certain extent. The fact that Mary Poppins Returns is family friendly isn’t my problem with it. My problem with it is that it relishes in this fact. Watching this movie, it seems like something that knows millions and millions of people are going to be watching, then downloading the album, and then singing the songs for days and days. That kind of movie just isn’t for me.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate this movie. It just seems like something that we’ve seen before, story-wise. “Stressed out single parent deals with an ‘adult’ situation, while the kids try to help, before it’s ‘cleverly’ resolved at the end and everyone lives happily ever after.” That isn’t anything groundbreaking or original, unfortunately.
Yes, Emily Blunt does a serviceable job with her Julie Andrews impression, but that’s also part of the problem with this movie. It’s playing on nostalgia and that is something I have a problem with these days, specifically when it comes to Disney movies. This is the exact reason I don’t have any interest in Dumbo, or The Lion King, or Aladdin. Disney is a huge company with the ability and the resources to make great, original films, but they insist on giving us stuff we’ve seen a million times before – but “new.”
Sure, it’s introducing these older stories to a new generation. But these stories and characters were brand new when they first came out and were good enough to have people fall in love with them then. I have to believe that Disney has the ability to make original ideas. But they don’t make them because these remakes and decades-later sequels are the ones that will for sure make money, while offering nothing new to the landscape of cinema.
Mary Poppins Returns isn’t something groundbreaking or incredible that we’ll all be talking about years from now. It is 100% average – nothing more, nothing less. No performances stand out, the songs are more annoying earworms than they are catchy, the cinematography or direction aren’t anything special, and the end goes on for 20 minutes longer than it deserves to.
This is the definition of a crowd pleaser. The movie is fine, but it shouldn’t exist in the first place.