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“The cover is not the book, so open it up and take a look.” No truer words could have been spoken to sum up the wonderful movie-going experience that is Mary Poppins Returns. Does it live up to the nostalgia of the original? Will it delight fans, young and old? Read more of my Mary Poppins Returns movie review below.

Mary Poppins Returns Movie Review

In this age of remakes and sequels, Walt Disney Studios seems to be betting a lot on their remakes and sequels to capture the attention of audiences both old and new. I grew up with the likes of The Lion King and Aladdin, and now my kids and I will get to experience their re-imaginings together next year. Mary Poppins Returns Movie PosterI was hesitant to love the idea of a new Mary Poppins story when it was first announced at D23, but I am happy to shut my mouth and give Disney my money on this one.

Acting in Mary Poppins Returns

First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room: Mary Poppins Returns is not the original, and Emily Blunt is not Julie Andrews. Let’s remove those expectations right now. Julie’s Mary is iconic, and Emily had a lot to live up to. I am delighted to say that she truly delivered a fresh take on a beloved character.Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins in Mary Poppins Returns Call me biased, but I have been a fan of Blunt’s acting for many years now, and seeing her in this role was truly a joy. She deserves all of the acting nominations she has been receiving for her performance.

Secondly, let’s talk about Jack. Lin-Manuel Miranda portrays a new character, London lamplighter Jack, with all the energy and charisma reminiscent of Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep, Bert. Jack the Lamplighter from Mary Poppins ReturnsLike Blunt, Miranda breathes new life into this story with charm, wit, and mannerisms that have already endeared him as the national treasure he is. It’s fun to watch him perform.

Surprising Casting

As much as the focus is on Blunt and Miranda in the title roles, it was Michael Banks, played by the incredible Ben Whishaw, that caught me by surprise. I enjoyed his turn as Q in the most recent 007 films, and I was along for the ride with him in Mary Poppins Returns until the very end. Ben Whishaw as Michael Banks in Mary Poppins ReturnsWatch out for the song “Nowhere to Go But Up,” and I dare you not to cry like a parent who was not prepare for the ending of Toy Story 3. That ending was just as rude to my tear ducts.

Mary Poppins Nostalgia

While Richard Sherman was a musical consultant on the film, he did not write any new music for it. We can give that credit to Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman for the score, music, and lyrics.

Movie goers can also thank them for including little musical snippets of the original music throughout the film.

Viewers will see the familiar sets of number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, the park, and the Fidelity fiduciary bank. These locations were mixed in with new places like the Royal Doulton Music Hall and Topsy’s Fix-It Shop. I loved the new sets mixed with the familiar ones, especially the animated elements.Trip a Little Light Fantastic from Mary Poppins ReturnsFans of the original will appreciate all the subtle nods throughout the film. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and I really appreciated that.

Positive Messages for Families

As seen in the trailer, Michael Banks and his children are without a wife and mother. The missing mother is discussed in dialogue and song throughout the film. While this subject matter is serious and deep, it is handled with care without being flippant or ignoring it.

Through the song “A Cover is Not the Book,” we’re taught that it’s not the outside that counts, but what’s between the “covers.”  As a parent, I try to teach this to my girls, but sometimes it takes a catchy song to get through to them.Mary Poppins and the Banks children in Mary Poppins ReturnsFinally, now more than ever, the focus on the importance of family and loved ones above “things” rings true. People over things is an especially poignant during the holiday season when we’re bombarded with commercialism and “things.”

With all the movie choices you have during this holiday season, include Mary Poppins Returns on your must-see list. It’s 100% worth the prime time ticket prices. After your viewing, make sure you pick up a copy of the soundtrack too! Trust me, you’ll keep singing many of the songs long after the credits roll!Mary Poppins Returns is now playing in theaters everywhere!