Mary Poppins Returns (2018)

Admittedly I’m not a big fan of the original 1964 musical, but I decided to watch this thanks to the great cast. Ultimately however, I had the same reaction to this sequel as I did its predecessor: It’s perfectly fine, but it’s also extraordinarily overlong, and the titular character is as unreachable and unpleasant here as she was in the original. Emily Blunt does her best to make the character viable but there’s just nothing to it, she’s stern and aloof, and that’s about it. Luckily, there’s a terrific supporting cast on hand, including a lively Emily Mortimer and an appropriately dour Ben Whishaw, but the movie ultimately belongs to Lin-Manuel Miranda. His natural charm and ease in front of the camera are on display throughout, and his enthusiasm for the role is palpable. The songs are fine but unmemorable, and while the movie looks gorgeous it never seems to come alive, despite an absurd budget (of $130 milion!) and inspiration from a beloved classic. Mind you it’s pleasant overall, but with this kind of cast and budget, it should have been a showstopper for the ages instead of a take-it-or-leave-it mid-afternoon diversion.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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