Mary Poppins Returns (2018): ‘The Sequel No One Wanted’ – A Film Review



Mary Poppins was a family film by Disney and based upon the book series by P. L. Travers. The film’s making of was dramatised in the film Saving Mr. Banks, which tells of a possible resistance by P L Travers for the film to be made and the insistence by Walt Disney. This managed to coincide with a nostalgic look at the back log of Disney but it would appear that this sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, that took 54 years to come out and was never desired by P L Travers. Despite this, in the book series on which the original was based, there is a lot of material that could be adapted but there isn’t any book, where the Banks children grow up and see what their potential lives would be like. Despite Mary Poppins being a successful and much loved film, the idea to bring out another and based upon the future lives of the children as they are revisted by Mary Poppins, may be highly resisted.


Returning to Mary Poppins

Despite the various nods to the original, there’s a need to rely on characters, that may not be worthwhile to follow, from the first film. Also in spite of any imaginative material that could be picked up, and some material is, the world of Mary Poppins Returns has numerous problems. None are from a creative angle but one must question the simplicity of elements brought in, when it doesn’t fit the narrative or world and develops more problems for the film. Plot points are simple, discardable and expected. Character motivations are lost, flimsy or all over the place. Despite being pushed for a come back and reboot and given the theatrical treatment of a greater Disney film, the film is nothing more than a straight to video, and dumbed down for children, film – even they might get annoyed with it.


The Design

Having said that the costumes and colours are vibrant creative and powerful. It’s just a shame that the actors, dialogue, story and songs just can’t keep up with them. Some sequences also fall into the out of place nature of a rather adult moment in a rather innocent and charmingly so film series. SPOILERS: The number ‘A Cover Is Not the Book’ is rampant with this, whilst the heavily implied romance of Miss Banks is also out of place. END OF SPOILERS. After all, this is a child’s imaginary tale; beautiful in its own sense of fun, wonder and amazement. It just feels odd to get a much more ‘Mr Potters from It’s a Wonderful Life vibe thrust into the film, with a romance for good measure.



It really is a shame because the wonderment of the film’s look can really delight. The animation style of one of the worlds, looks and feels like an immersive drawing (could be made better by the lack of one additional type of animation to jarringly distract from the background but they went with it anyway). This film could have been fun and fancy free but it never was wanted back then, or now. Certainly it feels as if P L Travers, not wanting any other sequels, was a justified position.



Years after Mary Poppins, Michael (Ben Winshaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer) have grown up but are facing repossessing problems with their house and are unable to look after Michael’s children. Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) returns to help them out once more, whilst they try to find the deeds to shares that could save their home.




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A Note on My Reviews

Please read ‘On Reviews‘ for a guide to how I write film reviews. Any spoilers are appropriately marked and, though I personally prefer to know little about a film before seeing it, there is a synopsis below the review for any who wish to see one.

Films Mentioned

It’s a Wonderful Life (d. Frank Capra USA 1946)

Mary Poppins (d. Robert Stevenson USA 1964) 

Mary Poppins Returns (d. Rob Marshall USA 2018)

Saving Mr. Banks (d. John Lee Hancock USA/UK/Australia 2013)


Further Reading

Official Site

Interview with Emily Blunt

Interview with Rob Marshall

Interview with Cast

Behind the Scenes

Easter Eggs


If you liked this

Beauty and the Beast (2017) – A Film Review

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018): ‘Style Over Substance’ – A Film Review

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – A Film Review

This was an analytical review of….

Mary Poppins Returns (d. Rob Marshall USA 2018)

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