MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Cert U 130mins Stars 5

This magical sequel to Disney’s 1964 much loved musical fantasy is a brightly coloured balloon of joy which will carry you away on a giddy adventure.

Mixing live action, CGI and hand drawn animation, this is charming, heartwarming and bursting with sing-along fun. It’s glorious to look at and wonderfully played, with Emily Blunt triumphantly taking on Julie Andrews’ role as the world’s favourite nanny.

Andrews won an Oscar for Poppins and with Blunt’s recent nomination for the Screen Actors Guild best actress award is a crucial step in following suit.

With a stern demeanour and sparkly-eyed sense of mischief, she pours her heart into her performance as sings, dances and even flashes her ankles in an almost saucy music hall turn, ‘A Cover Is Not The Book’.

Mary returns to the family home of the now grown-up Banks children, which is under threat of repossession by Colin Firth’s avaricious bank manager.

Jane and Michael are played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw, with Julie Walters as their long suffering housemaid.

The latter two are stalwarts of the brilliant Paddington films, and their casting alongside the daring rooftop shenanigans of the finale suggest Disney executives have paid attention to the Peruvian bear’s box office success.

Joel Dawson is a scene stealing scamp as one of Michael’s kids, US Broadway star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, shines brightly as a cockney lamplighter and popular veterans Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury are luminous in their late appearances.

Whether Oscar winning director Rob Marshall is insanely brave or wilfully foolhardy in attempting to follow the greatest family film ever made, he succeeds by being faithful to its spirit and respecting its legacy.

With ‘Nowhere To Go But Up’ delivering a gloriously buoyant finale, I left with a bounce in my step, a huge grin on my face and hoping it won’t be long before Mary Poppins returns.

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