Mary Poppins Returns

I’m having a lot of trouble assigning a star rating for this one. It’s kind of my problem with Rob Marshall’s previous film, Chicago, magnified by like a million. It’s just so damn inconsistent.

When the movie gets it right, it gets it right. Almost all of the bigger musical numbers are incredible (the underwater portion was a little too spy kids for my taste as far as the visuals but the movie’s not really for me so whatever). I gasped, I smiled. The cel animated portion is absolutely gorgeous. Part of me wishes the entire movie was set in that pot. The dialogue is fast and fun, the performances are solid to good. A lot of this movie is an absolute blast.

But when the movie gets it wrong, it gets it wrong. The blocking and direction in almost all of the non-musical sequences (AND some of the musical scenes) is kind of abhorrent. It didn’t grab my attention in any way. It seems like Marshall just walked into set for these scenes, had people stand in one spot and frame them in the same three mid-level shots, then called it a day. Like I said, I loved the bigger numbers but the smaller ones? Whenever individual characters are singing in the “real world,” the blocking/choreography is essentially limited to the characters standing completely still, or moving about a very small room as minimally as possible. It’s uninteresting. Which is a shame because I love the good parts of this so much but the film always undercuts itself. 

You even see it go from good to bad and back in individual sequences sometimes. Make no mistake, I was utterly floored by the “Light Fantastic” sequence, but good lord whose decision was it to keep cutting away from the dance number to show me those kids’ faces? Let me see them shoes clickin’!