Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Practically Perfect in Every Way; Mary Poppins Returns.(U) HHHH H

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Practically Perfect in Every Way; Mary Poppins Returns.(U) HHHH H

Article excerpt

ASPOONFUL of nostalgia - make that several heaped spoonfuls - helps the joy-infused medicine of Rob Marshall's 1930s-set musical fantasy go down in the most delightful way.

Based on the books by PL Travers, Mary Poppins Returns prescribes two hours of pure, sentiment-soaked escapism to banish the winter blues and jiggedy-jog our weary souls.

It's a lavishly staged carousel of whoop-inducing song and dance numbers that kicks up its polished heels in the face of cynicism and affectionately harks back to the 1964 Oscarwinning classic directed by Robert Stevenson.

Musical refrains from Chim Chim Cher-ee, Let's Go Fly A Kite and The Perfect Nanny among others are seamlessly woven into the lustrous fabric of Marshall's lavishly embroidered picture.

Plot threads are admittedly gossamer thin and noticeably frayed in places.

Karen Dotrice, who played Jane Banks in the original, has a lovely cameo as an elegant lady in search of 19 Cherry Tree Lane and Dick Van Dyke proves he can still step in time as chairman of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank.

Emily Banks, Georgie Emily Blunt is practically perfect in every way, making her entrance with a reverential nod to Julie Andrews - "Close your mouth, Michael. We are still not a codfish!" - as the London-born actress makes this iteration of the role her own with effortless efficiency.

A new songbook by composer Marc Shaiman and lyricist Wittman, writers of the Hairspray and Charlie And Chocolate Factory stage musicals, lacks the immediately hummable melodies conjured by Oscar winners Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman.

However, when ditties hit their emotional mark, they are spit spot on. A father's heartwrenching lament to his late wife is delivered with tearful restraint by Ben Whishaw, while Meryl Streep - with an east European accent of hysterically indecipherable origin - swings from a chandelier during her scene-stealing solo, Turning Turtle. …

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