Mary Poppins Returns, No Magic Only Ennui

Mary  Poppins Returns

Starring Emily Blunt, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Ben Whinshaw, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep

Directed  by Rob Marshall

Rating; **

A more destitute classic  would be hard to find. Mary Poppins Retuns is a sluggish almost-charmless, and most shockingly, irrelevant  remake  of  Robert Stevenson’s 1964  classic about a nanny who  ‘rescues’ a crisis-stricken family. Julie Andrews played a similar angel of mercy  in  two different  films released in two  successive years Mary Poppins and  The Sound  Of Music and qualified  for  eternal fame.

Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins is ….well, blunt and cold.  I do hope she  doesn’t intend do a remake  of  The Sound Of  Music anytime in the near future. This gifted actress so memorable as a delusional alcoholic  in The Girl On The  Train  is here  reduced to  a starchy cold stiff-upperlipped selfimportant  nanny who  drops  right from heaven into the  Banks’ family.Parachute be damned.

Michael  Banks(played  with  an endearing boyishness  by Ben Whishaw)’s world has fallen apart after his wife’s death. One of the film’s earliest  musical numbers has him  reveling in his wife’s memories.  Griefstricken and in a financial crisis, the last thing the Banks family needs  is a supercilious bossy nanny who clearly thinks the sun rises and sets in her  backroom.

This is a  good moment to pause and wonder…why? Why  was Emily Blunt seen  suitable to play Mary Poppins? The British accent?  I see no other reason  why she has  taken on this iconic  role of a do-gooder  who changes a family’s fortunes. She  imbues  the part  with an arching  up-tightness. Nearer home we had Rajesh Khanna  doing  Mary Poppins inHrishikesh Mukherjee’s Bawarchi. He didn’t  have Julie Andrews’ British accent. But he  conveyed more joie de vivre in one frame than Emily Blunt does  in  the entire film.

 Ms Blunt’s joyless performance  is just a fraction of  the problems that grip this misguided remake. Mary Poppins Returns is  filled with episodes that  are  designed to exhilarate  and  edify the childhood sensations  of adulthood.  One after the  other, they fall by the wayside  leaving us with a sinking feeling.

After feeling a pall of boredom falling on  me, I  waited  for Meryl Streep to show up. When  she did I  groaned  in disbelief. As Topsy  the wacked-out  fix-it lady with red hair and clownish makeup , her song and dance ‘Turning Turtle’ is as  major disaster waiting to happen in a film where nothing does,

The saving grace is a  bright young actor named Lin-Manuel  Miranda who plays a  streetlight-operator (this  is London during the Great Depression). His  musical number  in a sewage canal  reminiscent  of Ranbir Kapoor’s  easy grace in Sanjay Bhansali’s  Saawariya, is easily the  high point of  the sluggish dull over-righteous  film where   the characters  are  not just out of a clumsy fairytale  but also a mockery of what was  an indisputable classic   almost 50 years  ago.

Mary Poppins Returns does  have its moments   when its escapes the  clutches of itsselfcreated  stupor to break into the  land of  unmitigated  joy. But these come in spurts that only accentuate  the  narrative’s utter  disassociation with the  original drama and its refusal to let the  sun in even the  characters are pining to be happy.

Tragically, there  is no magic  in Mary Poppins Return only ennui.

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