Mary Poppins Returns can best be compared to a really good tribute band: It looks and sounds almost like the original, brings a warm sense of nostalgia, and leaves you with a huge smile on your face.
The parallels are not hidden: chimney sweeps have been replaced with lamp lighters (and their brooms with ladders), kites with balloons, and greedy bankers with, well, greedy bankers, and all in a color palette and with musical numbers that closely mimic the original. Banks children are still there (though of a different generation), Admiral Boom and Mr. Binnacle still set off a cannon from the nearby rooftop, Bert’s been replaced by lamp lighter Jack (joyously portrayed by Lin-Manuel Miranda) and of course, Mary Poppins returns, played adequately enough by Emily Blount.
If you liked the original (and who doesn’t?), you’ll certainly enjoy Mary Poppins Returns. But if you’re looking for a new take on things, look elsewhere, because everything about this movie, from the opening title sequence to the end, is pure throwback (and that’s not a bad thing).
The movie actually got applause in places, thanks to some wonderful surprises, and, just like a good tribute band, got applause at the end for taking you back to a different time in your life. But also like a tribute band, the thing that makes it good is its fidelity to the original material, and a copy is never quite as wonderful as the original.
Worth 5 of my 7 run-on sentences.