I'm lukewarm at best about remakes/reboots/sequels to beloved classic movies, but I resolved to keep an open mind. After all, I did find a few things to like in the Aladdin remake. In this benign frame of mind I watched Mary Poppins Returns, and I was... underwhelmed. Which is unfortunate.
Emily Blunt plays Mary Poppins, and she is fine in the role: she is Mary without aping Julie Andrews. With better material, she could have been spectacular. There aren't any really bad performances in the film, but the actors are let down by the screenplay and the music.
To begin with, the plot is thin and obvious: Jane and Michael Banks are now adults and Michael, a widower, still lives in the family house on Cherry Tree Lane with his three young children. Jane lives across town in a flat; she is single and, we are vaguely told, is organizing labour unions or something. Michael is, understandably, grieving for his wife and this is meant to be touching and sad- which it is, up to a point. Unfortunately, the plot- such as it is-requires him to be both a weakling and a blithering idiot which tempers my sympathy to a large degree. Michael is an artist, but has given it up to work at the same bank where his father used to be. This is laudable- the art isn't paying and he has a family to support. It's downhill from here with his character, however. At the start of the movie, the Banks' house is being repossessed because Michael had taken out a loan and used the house as collateral. The bank is now foreclosing because he hasn't made a payment in months, and is demanding payment of the loan in full.
After the movie was over and I was picking up cake plates and snack bowls, I found myself humming "Feed The Birds" and, when I entered the kitchen, one of my sisters was washing dishes singing "Let's Go Fly A Kite". All the new songs did were make us want to sing the old ones.
To sum up, Mary Poppins Returns isn't a terrible movie, but it's a disappointing and unnecessary one. It's supposed to be a sequel but oddly, it contains one remake after another of scenes from 1964's Mary Poppins, which is unfortunate because these scenes make you think of the original ones which are a lot better. To be honest, a person would probably enjoy this film more if they hadn't seen the original, which makes it a failure as a sequel. Also, the songs do not stick in your head and wil not be remembered and loved. There's no "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" or "Chim Chim Cheree" or "Jolly Holiday" or... the list of great songs from Mary Poppins goes on and on. I've already forgotten what all the ones from Mary Poppins Returns sound like.