A lot of Disney movies make me emotional. For some reason rooted in my childhood, Mary Poppins is one of those movies. So I was excited if a bit cautious when a sequel to the Julie Andrews classic was announced. How could the magic of Andrews, the charm of Dick Van Dyke, and the swept away feeling I experienced in childhood be replicated? I should’ve known better. Mary Poppins Returns is full of the same magic, joy, and catchy music. On March 19, the fantastical film arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD (it became available on Digital 4K Ultra HD/HD and Movies Anywhere on March 12).
Mary Poppins Returns once again brings the magical nanny (Emily Blunt) to 17 Cherry Tree Lane to help the Banks children and their father. This time, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) is a grown, single father raising his children, Annabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson), with help from his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer). In Depression-era London, the family is struggling to keep their home but when the wind changes, Mary Poppins arrives to add life, color, and adventure back into their lives. She teams up with lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), an old friend, to take Annabel, John, and Georgie on a whimsical journey where they encounter Mary’s eccentric Cousin Topsy (Meryl Streep), Jack’s lovable band of leeries, and bank executives William Weatherall Wilkins (Colin Firth) and Mr. Dawes Jr. (Van Dyke).
From the start, I was captured by this sequel. From the set design to the tone to the air of magical mystery, it was everything I was hoping for. Blunt is practically perfect as Mary Poppins. Her quick wit and bright energy drew me in and eased any lingering concerns about another actress stepping into the role on the big screen. Miranda was at his most charming, although it might’ve been preferable to let him do a regular English accent instead of a take on Van Dyke’s famously terrible cockney one. The character of Jack and Miranda’s portrayal were worthy successors to Van Dyke’s Burt, and I fell in love with him just as much as I’d always loved Burt.
In fact, everywhere you turn, the casting is tremendous. I never for one second doubted that Whishaw and Mortimer really were the adult versions of the Banks children from Mary Poppins. They and the small callbacks to the first film created a perfect feeling of nostalgia, like returning to a house you loved as a child but hadn’t set foot in since. When the film ended, I felt an expected swell of emotion in my chest. Disney, you got me.
Mary Poppins Returns has all of the elements of its predecessor, the good and the slightly less good. As much as I love Streep, I felt the film drag a bit during Topsy’s “Turning Turtle” sequence. But that’s how I feel about the Uncle Albert sequence (a part I always skip) in the first film. The songs were a true delight, particularly “Can You Imagine That?” and “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”, which, while not as catchy as “Step in Time”, was accompanied by a marvelous and ambitious dance sequence. One of the best parts of this Blu-ray is the option to watch the film in Sing-Along mode so you can commit the new songs to memory right alongside the classic tunes.
Getting to go behind the scenes for the dance numbers in “Seeing Things From a Different Point of View” is another of the many highlights in the bonus features for the Mary Poppins Returns Blu-ray. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” took a week and a half to film and it was completely worth it, according to Lin-Manuel Miranda. Director Rob Marshall said he felt that Miranda was well suited to lead such a number “because he has such a pure spirit, so genuine.”
Another surprisingly ambitious sequence was “The Royal Doulton Music Hall”, which, as Miranda wisely points out, pays homage to the fond memories we all have of “Jolly Holiday”. The animation was hand-drawn and necessitated intense collaboration between the production and animators. The same is true for “A Cover Is Not the Book”, a number that Marshall wanted to use to evoke a classic Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly stage number. Although it took a year to put together, Marshall said it was “maybe the most thrilling part of the film for me.”
Watching the bonus features, it’s obvious that the cast and creative team really loved making this film. The blooper reel is an absolute joy and guaranteed to make you smile as is the testimony from the cast about their experiences. “If you’re going to take on something as special and unique as Mary Poppins, you do need somebody as unique and meticulous as Rob Marshall and the whole team that he built around him,” said Emily Blunt in The Practically Perfect Making of “Mary Poppins Returns”.
It’s hardly surprising then that everyone was touched by the recreation of Cherry Tree Lane and Dick Van Dyke’s participation in the film as seen in “Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van Dyke Returns”. Colin Firth said watching Van Dyke perform was “one of the great joys of my life.” Marshall was so emotional during Van Dyke’s speech in the film, he couldn’t bring himself to call cut.
“It’s impossible to overstate what making this film has meant for me,” Miranda said. “Every day was like magic is happening.”
All of the Bonus Features included are:
BLU-RAY & 4K ULTRA HD:
- Deleted Song—“The Anthropomorphic Zoo” – In this early song sequence, Mary Poppins and the children visit a very special zoo where the humans and animals trade places.
- The Practically Perfect Making of “Mary Poppins Returns” – Join filmmakers and cast on an amazing journey to embrace the legacy of the original film while making a fresh modern sequel.
- Introduction – Filmmakers and cast remember the first Mary Poppins movie and share the thrill of working on “Mary Poppins Returns.”
- “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky” – Discover how the team mined PL Travers’ books for a fresh perspective on a much-loved character. Plus, meet the Banks children!
- “Can You Imagine That?” – Be on location for Mary’s iconic entrance from the sky, and explore the movie’s original songs, inspired by the Sherman Brothers.
- “Nowhere to Go but Up” – Experience being on set with the legendary Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury, and celebrate the joy of choosing the right balloon!
- “Seeing Things From a Different Point of View”: The Musical Numbers of “Mary Poppins Returns” – Go behind the scenes and experience the film’s production numbers from a new angle.
- “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – Led by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the cast performs the film’s biggest production number, with dancing lamplighters, bicyclists and more!
- “The Royal Doulton Music Hall” / “A Cover Is Not the Book” – Find out what it takes to create two musical extravaganzas inside an animated world, highlighted by dancing animated penguins!
- “Turning Turtle” – Mary’s eccentric cousin, Topsy Turvy, played by Meryl Streep, has an unusual house that turns this musical number upside-down.
- “Can You Imagine That?” – Dive under the bubbles with the cast and crew to see how this exuberant number was created.
- Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van Dyke Returns – Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert and Mr. Dawes Sr. in the first film, returns after 54 years to Cherry Tree Lane as Mr. Dawes Jr.
- Practically Perfect Bloopers – There’s nowhere to go but up with the cast and crew in this lighthearted collection of flubs, goofs and prop fails!
- Deleted Scenes
- Leaving Topsy’s – After their visit to Cousin Topsy, Mary, Jack and the children pause to take a look back.
- “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” – The leeries light up the screen in this extended clip from the movie’s biggest musical production.
- Play Movie in Sing-Along Mode – Sing along with all your favorite songs as you watch the movie.
- Play Movie with Audio Commentary – Watch the film with commentary by director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca.
Add Mary Poppins Returns on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD to your collection on March 19.
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