Haley Chi-Sing

The highly anticipated “Mary Poppins Returns” premiered in the United States on Dec. 19, 2018, with audiences of young and old filling up seats in theaters nationwide. But did the show-tune-singing, umbrella-carrying icon even need to return?

With already high expectations set by audiences everywhere, the film received mixed reviews. However, “Mary Poppins Returns” received 12 major nominations in 2019, including several Academy Awards and Golden Globe nominations.

The official “Mary Poppins Returns” teaser trailer was released back in March 2018. Since then, audiences around the globe have been holding their breath in anticipation for the sequel that was subsequently more than 50 years in the making. Over the course of those nine months, audiences had time to raise their expectations for the upcoming film.

Emily Blunt portrays the much-beloved Mary Poppins, succeeding Julie Andrews from the 1964 film adaptation. Lin-Manuel Miranda joins Blunt’s side as loveable lamp lighter, Jack.

Set in the 1930s, the Banks children are now grown up — Michael has children of his own, and Jane is the head of a campaign in London. The film follows Jane and Michael as they try to save their childhood home from bankruptcy while Mary Poppins and Jack help show Michael’s children the wonders of life after the loss of their mother.

“Mary Poppins Returns” received several acclamations — some of which came from The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Common Sense Media.

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said of the sequel, “Mostly, it is a modest update, one that has brushed off the story, making it louder, harsher, more aggressively smiley.”

Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal stated that he “found this sequel deeply slumping, not to mention unnecessary, unmagical and often unfunny.”

One individual commented, “this film is an abomination that should have never been made,” while another thought the film was “meh.”

I was able to watch the film during its first week in theaters, walking in with extremely high expectations as the film’s predecessor ranks amongst my top-five favorite movies. 

And although the original was practically perfect in every way, I do think Blunt did a good job portraying the whimsical character. My critique rests more with the film’s storyline, or lack thereof.

In comparison to the last film where the Banks children had a true need for Mary Poppins, “Mary Poppins Returns” brought back Mary Poppins for no particular reason. Neither Michael and Jane nor the Banks children (Michael’s children) need any particular help or assistance from Blunt’s character.

The special effects in the film were about as superfluous as Poppins’ presence. The effects were scattered here and there, interwoven with extravagant musical numbers that seemed over-the-top, flashy and frankly unnecessary.

As of Jan. 22, the film has grossed more than $161 million nationwide since it was first released. Due to its Oscar nominations, Original Score, Original Song, Costume Design and Production Design, there is a possibility the film will remain in theaters beyond the 2019 season.

Even though the film was nominated for Original Score and Original Song for the 2019 Academy Awards, the songs in the film did not strike me as Oscar-worthy.

As an audience member, I did not take away many underlying truths from the music, which I believe is what makes a soundtrack impactful. It seemed like the film employed the songs because the film was meant to be a musical, rather than employing the songs to enrich the quality of the musical itself.

Although the movie was a letdown for me, perhaps the film was doomed to fall short of impossible expectations to live up to as a sequel to the iconic original. Of course, these opinions are entirely my own, and I recommend you see “Mary Poppins Returns” and see what you make of the newest Disney installment.