An updated Mary Poppins for the 21st century
I took my five-year old son to see Mary Poppins in the theater yesterday. He liked it quite a bit, even the scary parts. He has seen Lion King, Kung Fu Panda, and How to Train Your Dragon. This was no scarier than the scenes in any of those productions.
Where MP Returns differs from the original is in the location of the conflict. In the original, the conflict comes from a male head of household who has bought into the patriarchal and capitalistic order of the banking industry, and cannot abide childishness or foolishness. In the latter, the conflict arises, primarily, from predatory lending made worse by the grieving of the otherwise creative male character who has not completely forgotten his childhood, although he claims not to believe it. Externalizing the conflict makes the movie different, but also a nicely pointed critique of current banking practices. Jane is following her mother into crusading for rights, this time, workers' rights; and the love story between Jane and Jack is sweet.
The production value of the film is gorgeous, if a little obvious, going from grey and fog to cherry blossoms and technicolor. Lin Manuel-Miranda smashes the part of Jack; I wasn't as enamoured with Blunt as Mary Poppins, but then I'm a HUGE Julie Andrews fan, so take that with a grain of salt. The dancing of the lamp lighters is easily as good as the "Step in Time" scene, and the Big Ben scene is marvelous.
All of the principals are white or white-Latino, although the rest of the cast is, finally, more racially diverse. Meryl Streep's cameo is appropriately weird, and it was great to see some of the old actors come out for their cameos at the end of the film.
I plan to go see it again, and I suspect we'll have this on rotation when it comes to Netflix.