Film Review: MARY POPPINS RETURNS (USA 2018) ***** Top 10

Mary Poppins Returns Poster

Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.


Rob Marshall


David Magee (screenplay by), David Magee (screen story by) | 3 more credits »

MARY POPPINS RETURNS begins with a song-and-dance number in the early morning of London where the fog is still on the ground.  A street lamplighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wore the music for HAMILTON) brings the audience into the spirit of things.

Set in 1930s London, which is the time period of the original novels by P. L. Travers, the story follows Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer), who are now grown up.  Michael is living with his three children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) and housekeeper Ellen (Julie Walters), in the house on Cherry Tree Lane.   After Michael has a personal loss, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) comes back into the lives of the Banks family.   No details on how Michael lost his wife.

The songs are ok for the first half and turns lively and catchy in the second half.  The Sherman Brothers who wrote the songs for the original POPPINS have music credits in this one.  None of the songs in the original are sung in this one, but a few chords of “For a Spoonful  of Sugar”, “Feed the Bird” and ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite” can be heard on the soundtrack.  A song “Trip a Little Light-fantastic’ reminds on of “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.  The musical number with the lamp-lights runs similar to the musical number performed by the chimney sweeps on the rooftops in the original.

A few magical segments brighten up the story.  The three children go on wild adventures like into the bathtub with Mary or into rotating ornament.  The grownups disbelieve and the children point to Mary Poppins.  “Mary Poppins never explains.”  These are the same words uttered in both movies.

A bit of romance is inserted in the story between Jack and Jane – not too much, just a hint for artistic purposes.

Emily Mortimer was the special guest present at the special screening.  She praised director Rob Marshall forms vision and one can see his vision realized in the picture – from the imaginative musical numbers to the impressive magical adventures.

The film contains three super cameos.  The first is Meryl Streep playing a Mary Poppin’s cousin, Topsy. With a thick Eastern European accent with coloured hair, bright rags and pearls and necklaces, her musical number is one lively inspiration that turns the film at its midpoint from mediocre to excellent fare.  After Streep’s appearance, the film goes uphill right to the heights of the floating balloons at the film’s end, the balloons given by Angela Lansbury, the balloon lady breaking out in song.  Lansbury has been in a magical musical Poppins type hit years back, the memorable BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS.  But the best cameo of all is Dick Van Dyke, aged masterfully playing Mr. Dawes Jr., the son of Mr. Dawes Sr., who he played in the first film.  Julie Andrews turned down the offer of a cameo.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS arrives 54 years after the original Julie Andrews musical.  It is a long but worthwhile wait.  It is indeed good to feel like a child again.  


Film Review: PADDINGTON 2 (UK/France/USA 2017) ****

Paddington 2 Poster

Paddington, now happily settled with the Brown family and a popular member of the local community, picks up a series of odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.


Paul King


Paul KingSimon Farnaby 


Ben WhishawHugh GrantHugh Bonneville

PADDINGTON the livable British bear that wears a trench coat, Wellington boots and red hat, returns with another big adventure. The first (2014) PADDINGTON film was wonderful and made a whole lot of money. PADDINGTON 2 also directed by Paul King has already been released worldwide grossing $134 million and nominated for Best British film for the this year’s new BAFTA (British Academy Film and Television Awards) to be hosted by Joanna Lumley, who also has a cameo in PADDINGTON 2.

PADDINGTON 2 is live-action/CGI animated comedy film directed by Paul King and written by King and Simon Farnaby, based on the stories of the character Paddington Bear created by Michael Bond. The film is dedicated to Bond. Ben Whishaw provides the voice of Paddington, with Imelda Staunton the voice of Aunt Lucy.

The story involves Paddington, who is now settled with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens. Paddington has become popular in his community, offering people emotional support in various ways. In order to purchase a unique pop-up book of London in Mr. Gruber’s antique shop for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington performs several odd jobs and saves his wages, but the book is stolen, and the culprit escapes, resulting in Paddington being accused of the crime and arrested. Although Mr. Gruber (Jim Broadbent) does not believe that Paddington stole the book, with no evidence that the thief existed, Paddington is wrongfully convicted and jailed.

Besides the known Paddington characters , the script includes two lively new ones. One is the villain of the piece, Phoenix Buchanan ( a price performance by Hugh Grant), a faded and narcissistic theatre actor now doing doggie food commercials looking for a comeback. He steals an antique pop-up book that Paddington wants to buy as a birthday present for her Aunt Lucy while framing Paddington in the process. His performance is camp, funny and totally winning. Make sure you sit for the entire closing credits as Grant performs his musical number in prison after he credits roll. As Buchanan sys, “This is a success because of the captive audience.” Grant won a BAFTA nomination here for Best Supporting Actor.

The second lively character is Nuckles with a capital N. It is in prison that Paddington befriends many of the inmates, including the short-tempered chef Nuckles, who hires Paddington, impressed by his marmalade sandwich recipe. Paddington is at first warned by all the inmates about Nuckles but Paddington insists that there is some good in everyone, as Aunt Lucy says. The inmates respond that it is obvious Aunt Lucy has never met Nuckles. Irish actor Brendan Gleeson who has proven himself apt at both drama and comedy is perfect as Nuckles, who proves himself finally a worthy friend to the bear.

PADDINGTON has all the ingredients of a solid family film with good values, humour, with and excitement. The climatic train segment with a chase on top of the train is both fun, clever and exciting. Everyone proves his worth, including Paddington’s adopted father, Harry Brown (Hugh Bonneville). It is also great to see Sally Hawkins as Mary Brown. Hawkins is always goodie anything and her expressive words and smile brings additional charm to the film.

PADDINGTON 2 is a total delight from start to end.


Happy Birthday: Ben Whishaw

benwhishaw.jpgBen Whishaw

Born: October 14, 1980 in Clifton, Bedfordshire, England, UK

Married to:
Mark Bradshaw (August 2012 – present)

It’s difficult, it’s a bit like acting in a silent movie. That’s what Dustin Hoffman said to me, anyway. We did the scenes with him in the first two weeks, and as he was leaving he said, ‘Well now you’re making a silent film, Ben; good luck!”.- On making Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006)


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