Do we need some magic in our lives, or what?
That’s the question we all answer at many stages and many ages, is it not?
And so Disney Studios brought the enchantress of London all these decades later to help test another generation’s will … and a parade of generations that have come along the 54 years since the original.
For the 7 p.m. Friday showing of Mary Poppins Returns at the Regal Cinema’s medium-sized theater in Syracuse-area’s Shoppingtown, the medium-sized opening weekend crowd included wide-eyed watchers of many ages.
The characters and setting are familiar in the tale directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay by David Magee. We’re in London 30 years after the film from 1964 finished. The Banks family has gone through its troubles in the interim, and not only because London is in the midst of what we “The Great Slump.” Grown-up Michael has lost his wife. Mourning, he’s doing the best he can with his three lively, smart children. Sister Jane drops by the big family house on Cherry Tree Lane as much as possible to help. Jack lights the street lamps and does what he can with moral support.
And then one day in the park, youngest Georgie suffers a kite mishap in the park.
Down from the sky comes Mary with her umbrella to save the day.
Yes, Michael and Jane remember her nanny ways from their youth, and she’s ready to step in to help again.
Blunt wraps herself in the sacred Julie Andrews role and makes this Mary her own. She sings, yes, and dances, sure, as this long-awaited sequel surely is a musical. But she smiles rarely, making Mary not dour, but very serious facing this sticky wicket of a Banks family dilemma.
She has tricks up her sleeves, of course, with those places she can take the children.
The scenes of fantasy are lavish, beautiful, quite fantastic, and even a bit scary.
There is joy, too, from many places.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a dervish of action as Jack, and Joel Dawson will steal your heart as little Georgie.
And when Dick Van Dyke makes his appearance later on as a wise banker not an aging chimney sweep, I actually raised my arms in triumph.
The crowd cheered at the end. It hooked them, too.