Monday, December 24, 2018

"Review: ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ and she really shouldn’t have" (plus Izabella Kaminska and Mohamed A. El-Erian)

Our one word reaction when Disney announced the re-boot a few years ago?
From the Los Angeles Times:
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
Keats said it first, but it was Mary Poppins, being practically perfect in every way, who found the right occasion for it, shortly after pulling an improbably large houseplant out of her carpetbag. She could have been speaking of the 1964 movie that bore her name. With its spoonfuls of sugar and chim-chim-cher-ee, its dancing cartoon penguins and marvelous Sherman Brothers songs, “Mary Poppins” remains one of the glories of the Disney canon, a wellspring of humor, emotion and audience goodwill that the studio has now seen fit to revisit 54 years later.

Anyone with a heart — or a basic grasp of the commercial logic of the movie industry — can understand at least the theoretical appeal of a movie called “Mary Poppins Returns.” As the proud father of a 2-year-old who already knows the lyrics to “Feed the Birds,” I’ll admit that I approached this belated sequel in a spirit of wary optimism. Our love for our precious childhood totems shouldn’t render those objects sacrosanct, and there’s no reason an iconic character can’t be revived, especially if the participants involved — Emily Blunt! Lin-Manuel Miranda! — strike the right balance of respect and imagination.

Certainly no one will accuse director Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Into the Woods”) or screenwriter David Magee (“Finding Neverland,” “Life of Pi”) of treating the Mary Poppins legacy with insufficient reverence. They might have made a more interesting film if they had. As it is, so much obvious care has been taken to reproduce and update the charms of the Robert Stevenson-directed original — to deliver an old-fashioned yet newfangled burst of family-friendly uplift — that “Mary Poppins Returns” winds up feeling both hyperactive and paralyzed. It sits there flailing on the screen, bright, gaudy and mirthless, tossing off strained bits of comic business and all but strangling itself with its own good cheer.
It fails through no lack of effort. Magee borrows instantly recognizable elements from the earlier film, but he also draws heavily on the superb P.L. Travers books that inspired it, particularly “Mary Poppins Comes Back” (1935) and “Mary Poppins Opens the Door” (1943). Real inspiration, however, proves elusive. The laborious Depression-era plot brings together a house in disarray, a looming bank foreclosure and a few scowling cardboard villains. The score, composed by Marc Shaiman, is as hardworking as it is monotonous; the new songs crowd together inside your head, coalescing into a thick, vaguely melodic vapor that evaporates immediately after the movie has ended....MORE
See also:
Watch As Izabella Kaminska Bends Mary Poppins to Her Own Purposes
That one got two thumbs up from  Mohamed A. El-Erian.
The linked Izzy, not our wrapper.

And for more on Dame Julia Elizabeth Andrews, also from the 2015 post:
Nun with a Switchblade: Julie Andrews and The Fiftieth Anniversary Of The Sound Of Music
"It would surprise no one, perhaps, to learn that Julie Andrews travels with her own teakettle...."  
No. No it would not.
Mary Poppins Triumphs: Thousand-Dollar IoT, Bluetooth and WiFi Enabled Tea Kettle Company Folds