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Linda Cook

Linda Cook

It’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Disney magically has captured the wonder of the beloved 1964 film in "Mary Poppins Returns," a contender for so many Oscars I won’t bother to list them all here.

It has terrific songs, fun characters and incredibly moving nods to the Disney classic, a couple of which brought tears to my eyes.

This time, Emily Blunt – who earned the approval of no less than Julie Andrews herself when she was cast – stars as the titular character who must return to the people about whom she still cares.

The story is set in 1930s London, where the grownup Michael (Ben Whishaw) and his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) live with Michael’s three children and the family housekeeper.

Times are tough, and the Banks family is about to lose its house, despite the “assistance” from the two-faced banker (yet another banker cad!) played to the hilt of despicable by Colin Firth.

On hand to infuse Mary Poppins’ magic with his own whimsy and good spirits is Jack, played by the fantastic Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose character, naturally once worked for Bert the chimney sweep (Dick Van Dyke in 1964).

The three Banks children realize that something is a bit off with Mary right from the get-go – who else has a talking parrot-head on her umbrella?

After bath-time transitions into a gorgeous undersea adventure, the children realize they have a very special nanny indeed.

And that’s just the beginning of the adventures, all of which hearken back in some way to the goings-on in the first movie.

The animated characters in a second outing are very like the animation in the 1964 movie – in fact, you will see some familiar faces – er, beaks? – in this segment that may make older viewers tear up with nostalgia.

Director Rob Marshall ("Chicago") keeps the pace delightfully quick – like a spin on a carousel, you might say. And the entire crew, from the animators to the costumers, keep every frame a wonderland for the eyes, from the gorgeous paintings in the very beginning to the finale that involves a fair and a recognizable, and welcome, balloon vendor.

Did I mention you’ll also see Meryl Streep as Mary’s daffy cousin? And that a cameo by Dick Van Dyke is one of the most memorable moments?

You’ll want to hear the songs again immediately. My favorite, one of which involves Jack’s character and other dancing chimney sweeps, along with an ode to the past and those whom we have lost, are “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” and “The Place Where Lost Things Go.”

You don't need to see the original to enjoy this. But those who have seen the 1964 film will love this movie, which is practically perfect in every way, even more.

If I were you, I’d buy tickets now … spit-spot!


Film critic/reporter since 1985 at Quad-City Times. Society of Professional Journalists, Broadcast Film Critics Association and Alliance of Women Film Journalists member. Member of St. Mark Lutheran Church.