Oh Disney, how you love to live off of your old ideas in modern time I guess. Well you won’t hear me complaining especially if it means we get a “Mary Poppins” sequels! Yes the follow-up to the 1964 classic has had a teaser trailer out for some time but we finally get a few glimpses at the story in the full length trailer released for the film earlier this week. It’s been ages since I’ve seen the original film and while it’s not the kind of movie I have to watch every time it’s on I still love it and understand why many people could take or leave a continuation. All the same I still took some time to examine the trailer for the sequel and I broke it down to see what we might expect from the project as a new generation prepares to experience a bit of Mary Poppins’ magic touch. So let’s dive in and break down this trailer and see what it has in store. If you feel I missed any details please feel free to share your comments below and, as always, you can view the trailer at the bottom of the breakdown.
The trailer starts off similar to the original teaser with a view of Cherry Tree Lane, the location of the first film with the same magical violin overture accompanying the shot. We can see the ship inspired home of Admiral Boom still exists which is a nice touch. We focus on sister and brother duo Jane and Michael Banks, played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Wishaw, who are now grownups after first meeting Mary Poppins in the original film. Remember, she was their Nanny. The two argue over throwing out a green kite which we also saw in the original teaser. The kite is a throwback to the two’s childhood when they’re father helped them fix the kite after the life-changing experience with Mary Poppins. Michael says “those days are long behind me” meaning that the Banks boy has turned into a serious older man who appears to take life too seriously which is likely part of the reason his old nanny decides to return. After all she taught him lessons as a child, who’s to say she can’t have the same impact on him as an adult.
As with the teaser trailer we see the kite fly away as the winds pick up and we then see Michael Bank’s son Georgie flying that kite with Jack who is a former apprentice of Bert from the first film and is now a lamplighter. Clearly he has a good relationship with the Banks family as he appears to be close enough to Georgie to help him fly the kite and seeing as Bert was a voice of reason of sorts in the first film, someone aware of Mary Poppins powers and comfortable with it, it should be interesting to see if Jack has inherited that role. It seems like it since he claims “as I live and breathe” as we see Poppins arriving from above the clouds and the dark color pallet turns to a more colorful one. It should be noted that Bert is not listed in the cast for the movie so it looks like this film, set 25 years after the original taking the action from 1910 to 1935, will move on from Dick Van Dyke’s classic character.
Georgie brings Mary Poppins home with him and I have to say I love the way she struts in the door with authority. This is exactly how I would picture Poppins would carry herself in the presence of adults, especially ones who she knew as children. The Banks children-turned-adults are amazed to see their old nanny and in one of my favorite parts of the trailer Michael comments on how Poppins hasn’t aged a day which leads to a great tongue and cheek remark from Poppins about not discussing a woman’s age. I love this moment because it’s basically Mary Poppins telling Michael he still has a lot to learn about civility. We find out later why Michael is a bit of a cynic but even then this line is made all the better as we realize she’s saying to tell Michael that no amount of anger is an excuse for rudeness. Looking at the costume design the crew hit it spot on. Emily Blunt looks amazing as Poppins and captures the character’s classic look with more modernized flair including a Robin decoration on her hat calling back to the robin she sang with in the first movie and a repainted version of the parrot head umbrella which talked in the first film. After being gone for 25 years it only makes sense that Poppins would update her wardrobe a bit. We also get to see the same scene from the teaser where Mary Poppins looks in a mirror and when she walks away her reflection remains, watching her walk away and raising an eyebrow. This is callback again to the first movie where Poppins sang with her reflection which took on a life of its own.
We get some looks at the sets in the film and they look absolutely awesome. More importantly though we get a peek at the plot. Poppins is asked why she returned and she says “the same thing as last time, I’ve come to look after the Banks children”. Michael’s three children, Georgie, John and Annabelle, ask if that means she is watching them and Poppins responds “oh yes, you too”. Obviously this means she’s come to help the Banks children she originally helped in the first movie. The way Poppins responds to the kids presents a certain attitude, almost like she’s annoyed. I mean look at that face in the photo above. That’s the face of a woman basically saying “I’m not here to play games this time”. In my opinion she’s irritated because the Banks kids have gone astray which ties back to her snappy comeback to Michael talking about her age.
In kind of an odd bit of forced exposition Michael breaks down talking to his kids saying they’re going to lose their home, why we’re not told but we do learn Michael has been a wreck since the loss of his wife. We don’t hear the word “die” but he breaks down in tears in his hand which tells us all we need to know about that situation. Michael’s kids seems to feel the same depression which is probably another big part of Mary Poppins’ return, to help the kids and Michael get back on their feet and overcome the loss of a loved one that has derailed their lives. So while I noted the stern nature of her persona I would expect her to handle her new life lessons with tact. Besides it would be uncharacteristic of Poppins to simply say “suck it up buttercup” in the wake of a tragic loss.
Then we hear Emily Blunt sing for the first time in the trailer with just about a minute to go and, as usual, she sounds awesome. Blunt showed she could perform musical numbers with gusto in “Into the Woods”, another Disney product, so I never thought for a second she couldn’t pull off the musical part of her performance. The song she is singing is about how nothing’s ever really gone forever obviously alluding to the old cliché that those we love are never truly far away. However it could also be talking about life and other aspects of reality that have gotten out of hand and that peace of mind is never too far away to get back. That plays into the words that flash at times in the trailer talking about how the magic always returns.
We see Poppins use her magic and we get the same animation/live action hybrid visuals that made the first movie a classic and this excited the heck out of me when I saw it. I was genuinely afraid this second movie might ditch the animation for a fully live-action project but no. It looks like the film is going to stick to its roots and incorporate animation into the mix. If it’s anything like what this trailer shows us it’s going to be stunningly beautiful traditional animation at that.
The rest of the trailer promises great showpieces and dance numbers all reminiscent of the original film. The only concern I have about this is that I hope “Mary Poppins Returns” doesn’t phone it in to the point where it leans TOO heavily on the first movie’s charm. I’d like to see it have its own personality that utilizes the character and the animation/live-action hybrid filmmaking in a new way. Seeing as it looks like this film will touch on darker themes of depression and loss rather than the issues of neglect and the balance of family and life from the first movie I‘d say it’s headed in the right direction.
Before things close out we get to see the rest of the major cast and some neat cameos. First is Angela Lanbury who will portray a balloon lady who tells Michael he forgot what it was like to be a child. We also see character shots of Colin Firth’s William Weatherall Wilkins who I believe will be a villain-like character, Julie Walters as housekeeper Ellen, and Meryl Streep as Topsy who is related to Mary Poppins as a cousin. Most exciting though is Dick Van Dyke! The actor will not return at Bert but he will be part of the film portraying Mr. Dawes, Jr. the son of Mr. Dawes who was a second character he played in the original film. Van Dyke takes over for Arthur Malet who portrayed junior in the first movie.
So that’s my breakdown of the “Mary Poppins Returns” trailer. Honestly I’m more excited for this film than I thought I’d ever be. While the original “Mary Poppins” is a classic it was never a staple of my childhood. It’s one of those movies I always enjoyed but never HAD to watch. When a sequel was announced I was skeptical but this full length trailer offers a lot of promise with returning characters, an interesting story and a more stern yet still tender Mary Poppins and what looks to be incredible animation that calls back to the traditional style of the first film. There are a lot of great things offered in this trailer alone, but we’ll have to wait until Christmas to see if the film itself lives up to expectations.