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Non-Review Review: Mary Poppins Returns

Mary Poppins Returns largely accomplishes what it sets out to do.

Mary Poppins Returns is a belated sequel to the original film, and very clearly – and very strongly – takes that original film as its major influence. Indeed, many of the relative strengths and weaknesses of Mary Poppins Returns are carried over directly from the previous film. Mary Poppins Returns is visually inventive, narratively accessible, highly unfocused, and episodic in structure. These are all aspects that it shares with the beloved family classic that spawned it, for better and for worse.

The nanny’s state.

There is an endearing energy in Mary Poppins Returns, and a comforting nostalgia. Indeed, Mary Poppins Returns to the sort of film that was already endangered when Mary Poppins was released, the cinematic equivalent of vaudeville entertainment; a collection of largely isolated sketches tied together by the thinnest of string, serving as a showcase for the creative talents of everybody involved from the performers to the animators to the set designers. Mary Poppins Returns comes remarkably close to capturing the spirit and the appeal of the original.

However, Mary Poppins Returns struggles slightly to balance its fidelity for (and veneration of) the original with the demands of a modern family blockbuster, the film occasionally caught in the push-and-pull of familiarity and modernity. It doesn’t quite work, but it gets close enough for those craving an old-fashioned feel-good family film.

No need to make a song and dance about it.

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Non-Review Review: Saving Mr. Banks

“I’m tired of remembering it that way,” Walt Disney admits of his childhood at the climax of Saving Mr. Banks, in a rare moment of personal candour. There are moments when Saving Mr. Banks seems to come very close to working – exploring the link that exists between memory and imagination. In a way, that’s very much what Walt Disney was all about, adapting and renovating classic stories in such a way that they seemed to be more the stories that we wanted to hear than the stories that we remember.

Unfortunately, for too much of its runtime, Saving Mr. Banks serves more of an example of the process of “imagineering” that an exploration of it.

savingmrbanks1

It’s not quite tell-all-vision…

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