How ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is a Remake, Not a Sequel
Published on December 22nd, 2018 | Updated on December 23rd, 2018 | By FanFest
Mary Poppins Returns has new characters and actors, a new well-written and brilliantly composed soundtrack, fabulous innovative costumes with brand new adventures and captivating storylines. We find out what became of Jane and Michael Banks, following their lives as adults with their own family and romances. The movie picks up a generation after the original film, however, there are many reasons why this film should be seen as copying the original and should be placed within the same genre as Disney’s live-action remakes.
This film is primarily made for fans of the original. Children will love it too, but it’s adults who are treading down memory lane as we walk back through the same paths of the first movie. So much of the movie is pure nostalgia. The film is packed full of moments that hark back to the original. There are blatant Easter eggs that will make long-term fans rejoice. The structure of the plot and story are directly mirroring the original.
Instead of ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ to encourage the children to tidy up we have ‘Can You Imagine That?’ to encourage the children to take a bath. Instead of ‘Stay Awake’ Mary Poppins sings ‘The Place Where Lost Things Go’ to help the children to feel better and sleep. Instead of ‘Jolly Holiday’ as they jump into a chalk painting, we have ‘The Royal Doulton Music Hall’ when they jump into a china bowl. The animation sequence, blurring 2D cartoon animals with live-action people, directly mirrors the first film, in a wondrous display of art and effects that you see so rarely nowadays. You get the idea, it directly copies the original in its structure, form, plot and re-uses older narrative techniques.
Jack is clearly a substitute for Bert, Lin-Manuel Miranda doing his best insincere-cockney accent to impersonate Dick Van Dyke. Visiting Mary Poppins’ cousin is clearly a substitute for the wonderful tea party she once had on her Uncle’s ceiling. The characters’ picking up from where the original film left off is also clearly homage’s to the 1960s musical. Colin Firth replaces Mr. Dawes Senior character as the big-bad banker.
Even Jane and Michael banks are not only mirroring and mimicking their younger selves but also serve to replace the roles of their own Mother and Father. Michael’s story arc follows his father’s exactly, right down to working in the bank when it isn’t his passion, feeling downtrodden, hopeless and angry to completely accidentally neglecting his family and not understanding his children’s needs. Jane provides the left-wing political activism just as their mother marched for women’s suffrage. The turnaround and freedom for Michael’s father shown through ‘Let’s go fly a kite’ is replaced by ‘Up’ and colorful balloons, as they remember what it was like to be a child, to be lifted away from all responsibility and to fly.
Visuals are taken directly from the original. Even the opening credits are reminiscent of the 1960s film, paintings reminiscent of the scenes from the Mary Poppins movie we are all so fond of. It’s rare to have an overly-long opening credits scene and rarer too for it to not add any plot into the movie. Like any Broadway musical, we hear snippets of the original songs we know and love, woven through the opening credits but also weaving their way into the score throughout the movie, scattered amongst the newly-written songs.
Dick Van Dyke reprises his role as Mr. Dawes Senior and even performs his original dance and tap moves exactly as they were in the first movie. So much of the choreography is taken directly from the first musical. The chimney sweeps routine dancing on the rooftops is directly copied by the lamplighters right down to the family walking along the ledges in a line and the memorable chimney dance routines. Instead of jumping down a chimney, the family copies the original movie’s movements by jumping into a sewer. Instead of climbing up a chimney the lamplighters climb up Big Ben. There are too many routines which are choreographed directly to copy the original to even begin listing them all in this article.
Emily Blunt impersonates Julie Andrews flying by her umbrella right down to the pointing of her red-heeled toes and the eccentric cannon-firing neighbors are still running wild. This movie is packed full of nostalgia, giving us joy at reliving and re-experiencing those moments and routines we know and love from the original. Like all of Disney’s other live-action remakes, it serves to re-incarnate the moments, characters and visuals we loved from the original, rather than to provide brand new content.
Mary Poppins Returns is out now. It’s a fantastic film for all the family at Christmas and you will love every minute of it.