WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHEN?: Released in cinemas in the UK 21/12/18
We’re killing time between a Q&A and performance at Sloane Square’s Royal Court Theatre when we chance upon the 50 Smith Street home in Chelsea where Mary Poppins‘ author P.L.Travers lived and used as inspiration for the Cherry Tree Lane home of the Banks family in this.
- Read on for reasons including why we shed a tear more than once during the film
The charms of Walt Disney’s 1964 original film eluded us in childhood probably because having a nanny seemed so unlikely and meant our enthusiasm for the follow-up rested squarely on the shoulders of Manuel-Miranda (loved In The Heights more than Hamilton) and Whishaw who is consistently excellent (not least for his Golden Globe-winning role in A Very English Scandal).
We also listened to the fine soundtrack of Mary Poppins Returns before Christmas and added it to our to-see list but it’s this surprise visit in Chelsea which spurs this cinema trip.
This sequel may have been a long time coming but, having lived in the capital ourselves for almost 20 years, we appreciate what a love letter to London it is. Indeed we meet lamp lighter Miranda (an apprentice to Dick Van Dyke’s character in the original) as he cycles through the city’s streets as the action begins.
Whishaw plays the grown-up Michael Banks (a child in the original film) in the 1930s who is mourning the loss of his wife and it is the use of song The Place Where Lost Things Go sung with his grieving children which would guarantee tears from all but those with the hardest of hearts.
The drama comes from the downturn in the Banks’ family fortunes mirroring the Great Depression of the time as their Cherry Tree Lane home comes under threat from banker Colin Firth.
It is not only Firth’s appearance that reminds of the Mamma Mia films as Julie Walters turns up as a housekeeper who is essentially a younger Mrs Overall and even Meryl Streep crowbars herself into the action during fun musical number Turning Turtle about seeing things from an opposing angle.
Indeed it’s a score that reminds of the original but uses bold enough strokes to differentiate itself from it not least during the joyous, balloon-filled Nowhere To Go But Up which boasts 1 of 2 brilliant cameos.
Manuel-Miranda’s Cockney accent is as misplaced as Van Dyke’s in the original but it really doesn’t matter as he has the sparkle in his smile to carry it off and his song Trip A Little Light Fantastic is worth the price of admission alone.
We’ve never been big fans of Emily Blunt but she makes the character her own and by the time of the Big Ben-themed journey back in time we were praying the wait for her leading role in the 3rd film would be nowhere near as lengthy as the years between films 1 and 2. Definitely a film fans of musical theatre will take to their hearts.