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Mary Poppins Returns: Big success? Definitely

Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda take part in filming of a scene from the movie sequel Mary Poppins Returns in front of Buckingham Palace. Credit: PA

First, a confession. I never liked Mary Poppins. I found the 1964 original too long. I didn't particularly care for any of the Banks family. First world problems.

And now another confession, I was in tears within 20 minutes of the new film.

Mary Poppins Returns has assembled a lineup of national - and international acting treasures:

  • Ben Wishaw? Tick.
  • Colin Firth? Tick
  • Julie Walters? Tick
  • Meryl Streep? Tick. Tick. Tick.

Streep looks like she's having a ball. It's just one winning scene and she camps it up and belts it out and it's glorious.

And what a coup to have signed up one of the theatre world's most sought after actors, Lin Manuel Miranda.

Is there anything the Hamilton creator can't do?

Stepping into the role of a lamp lighter, in effect the chimney sweep role of Bert from the original, he firmly exorcises the demon of Dick Van Dyke and that Cockney accent.

He's clearly channelling Phil Daniels' turn in Blur's Parklife. Vorsprung Durch Technik, and it works very well.

The film wisely is not a straight remake but is based on P. L. Travers' further books in the Mary Poppins series.

It is a few years after the first visit of Mary to the Banks family.

There's been a tragedy and they need her magic touch.

A film crew prepares to film a scene from the movie sequel Mary Poppins Returns. Credit: PA

There's plenty of that, with some lovely animated sequences of the kind found in the original.

The bath scene is great fun - the cast of young children work really well together here - particularly Joel Dawson as Georgie.

And Julie Walters who's rapidly becoming the film world's go-to housekeeper, channels her Mrs Mop, playing a role not dissimilar to the part she played in Paddington.

And that's the feeling of the whole film - it will elicit the same warm response as the Paddington films. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Emily Blunt and the cast of young children in the bath scene. Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Much has been made of Dick Van Dyke's return in this film.

It is silly, and indulgent and God knows what accent he's using. But by then, you don't care. I felt like cheering.

And so to Mary Poppins herself. Julie Andrews turned down an offer to make an appearance in this movie.

"It's Emily's film" she's reported to have said.

And it is.

Emily Blunt is said to be both bossy and warm in Mary Poppins Returns. Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Emily Blunt is simply one of the most versatile actors around (see The Quiet Place, Sicario, now Mary Poppins) and she brings a touch of class to proceedings.

Speaking in clipped tones, she is both bossy, and warm. And she can really sing.

Director Rob Marshall knows how to make a musical film (see Chicago) and somehow at around two hours and 20 minutes in length, he manages to make it fly.

The songs are new, and while there's no Feed the Birds or Spoon Full of Sugar, the music is engaging if not instantly memorable.

Mary Poppins Returns: a gamble? Yes. A big success? Definitely.