Mary Poppins returns with just enough magic

Matt Adcock reviews Mary Poppins Returns (PG)
Emily Blunt as Mary PoppinsEmily Blunt as Mary Poppins
Emily Blunt as Mary Poppins

The nanny who breaks all the rules and reinstalls childhood magic to families in need is back. This time it’s Depression-era London, where a now-grown-up Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) Banks, along with Michael's three children Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).

Through her unique skill set, and with the aid of her friendly lamp lighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives and might just find a way to stop the bank repossessing their house.

The big question more than half a century on is – are cinema goers all still children at heart who will allow our imaginations to embrace the slightly kooky magic-and-manners-em-up.

The performances are mostly great, Blunt really nails it as Poppins and the kids are good. Director Rob Marshal packs in plenty of dancing and a couple of standout fantasy sequences, but overall the story felt contrived and Disney-by-numbers.

It’s a fun romp that channels the feel of the original (almost too much because this isn’t as good) but for anyone who enjoyed the first there is just about enough childhood wonder to make a return visit to 17 Cherry Tree Lane worthwhile.

The most memorable scenes are the animated fusions that are really eye-popping such as a subaquatic afternoon bath and a sing-along trip into a world held in a dish. The songs are passable but forgettable and while it tries to shoehorn in some political elements there’s nothing here to engage long term.

So not entirely Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious but worth checking if you need a nostalgic hit of child-friendly magic.