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Film review: Mary Poppins Returns is practically perfect

Let’s go Eye a kite: In the film, Mary descends from the skies on a kite... and yesterday a stunt double rode on top of a capsule on the London Eye to mark last night’s premiere in the capital PICTURE: PA

REVIEW

Mary Poppins Returns

(U) ★★★★★

SHE’S back! But (yikes!) she’s not Julie Andrews. Yet the moment (a now Golden Globe-nominated) Emily Blunt sails serenely down from the sky on the end of a kite, she makes this role her own.

And, like her, this remake is spit spot-on. Set 25 years after the 1964 Oscar-winning original, it sees the now adult Banks siblings Jane and Michael (Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw) facing foreclosure on the family home. Michael’s wife has recently died, forcing his three children to grow up too fast. Enter Mary Poppins to re-establish both fantastical japes and order with a little help from a cockernee lamplighter (Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda).

Grab a nanny night: Emily as Poppins

As someone who wore out my VHS tape rewatching the original, I’m a tough crowd to please. However, Chicago director Rob Marshall achieves a practically perfect (in every way, obvs) balance of echoing the original’s spirit, together with some of the most beloved features (cartoon penguins, Mary’s ability to slide up banisters, Dick Van Dyke hamming it up), with a new twist including a racy number where Poppins goes all Cabaret. Mainly, though, it’s a glorious, tear-soaked nostalgia trip, gussied up in Sandy Powell’s sensational, sherbet-coloured costumes.

The Meryl Streep number is a weak link and the verbose score (‘When troubles seem incessant/just get a little incandescent’) can’t rival Chim Chim Cher-ee for catchiness. But the original wasn’t perfect either. Ultimately, it makes the world seem just a little bit more magical — what more could you want this Christmas?