Movie review: Mary Poppins Returns

Yesterday was a weird day wrapped in a magic bow. It started with a rehearsal for my newest Second City Training Center coached ensemble (yay!) followed by my car getting towed because apparently, my Spothero reservation didn’t go through (boo!). But it concluded with dinner and a movie next to the most adorable husband this side of the planet.

And not just any movie. A pre-screening of Mary Poppins Returns, a movie I’ve been dying to see since it was announced (especially once I discovered one of my favorite celebrity crushes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, would have a role similar to that of DIck Van Dyke in the original film). I’ve also loved Emily Blunt since The Devil Wears Prada. And then there’s Colin Firth. Who I’ve loved since I was fifteen, watching Pride and Prejudice on repeat.

Mary Poppins Poster Jack Lin-Manuel Miranda

I went into the theater with high expectations. I was hesitant to have such high expectations after the Nutcracker kinda flopped on me (I was initially drawn into the colors and music and potential messaging, but after thinking about it for far too long, I realized that the action in the plot did not back up the messaging and it wasn’t actually very good at all). Thankfully, I’ve slept on it, and I still absolutely loved Mary Poppins Returns.

Mary Poppins Returns movie review

THIS is the movie we need right now. The world is dark and gray, and Mary Poppins animates it with positivity and color and sheer energy to yet again save the day (and the Banks family). Emily Blunt plays Poppins in a way that makes me believe she’s always been Poppins (no disrespect to Julie Andrews intended because she, too, played the part practically perfect in every way). It’s like in Doctor Who, when a new doctor comes in and you truly feel like they’ve been the doctor all along. Like magic.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS,  a sequel to the 1964 film MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an all-new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 film MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an all-new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

We’re on the brink of adventure; don’t spoil it with too many questions.

-Mary Poppins

In Mary Poppins Returns, the Banks children are more responsible than their artist father who has taken a part-time job at his father’s former bank to help make ends meet during The Great Depression. Mary Poppins arrives just in time to help the entire Banks family (Jane is a regular visitor to Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane). With Jack the lamplighter as her childlike adult accomplice, Mary takes the three Banks children on quite the adventure. From a dazzling display inside a Royal Doulton bowl, using classic animation (which Disney hasn’t really used since Winnie the Pooh in 2011) as a nod to the original sequence inside the street chalk scene to an important meeting with Meryl Streep’s Topsy on the ceiling of her home, Mary teaches the new generation of Bankses how to have fun.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack in Disney's MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS,  which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins and Lin-Manuel Miranda is Jack in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

I loved the energy and imagination and pops of color that swirl throughout the film like paint on a canvas. The music is full of clever lyrics (and several that are full of much more adult-humor than one would expect, including a line about flapping about in bathtub gin). I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat, full of joy, and so many chills, you guys. If you need a little boost of magic this holiday season, let this be the movie that takes you there.

Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks' home in Disney's original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Jane (Emily Mortimer), Michael (Ben Whishaw), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) greet Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) upon her return to the Banks’ home in Disney’s original musical MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Lin-Manuel Miranda is there every step of the way, but the entire supporting cast is brilliant. Molly Weasley Julie Walters is the perfect casting for Ellen. Meryl Streep slays as Mary’s eccentric cousin (I wonder if any relation to Uncle Albert?). Colin Firth plays a duplicitous banker with sheer perfection. As for the Banks family? Emily Mortimer is such a perfect casting for Jane that I can see a resemblance to her 1964 childhood counterpart. Ben Whishaw is a wonderful combination of the child, Michael, and Mr. Banks from the original movie. The three children —Joel Dawson as Georgie, Pixie Davies as Annabel and Nathanael Saleh as John — are adorable and charming in their own rights.

Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins, Joel Dawson is Georgie, Pixie Davies is Annabel and Nathanael Saleh is John in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Mary Poppins easter eggs

The nods to the original are spectacular and come in every shape and size, including:

  • Dick Van Dyke’s incredible singing, dancing cameo
  • The return of the penguins
  • A passerby (UPDATE: this part was played by Karen Dotrice, the original Jane Banks!) stating, “Many thanks. Sincerely,” which is from the nanny advertisement that Jane and Michael write for their future nanny. No one else is picking up on this egg!
  • Admiral Boom still lives next door
  • Several sightings of the Sister Suffragette vote sash as the string on Michael’s kite
  • The blocks that Jane held, spelling out Mary Poppins
  • The snow globe from Feed the Birds

I found myself squeeing throughout the movie, and Brian often had no clue what I was noticing, so you really have to know your Mary Poppins to catch them all. I’m quite sure I missed as many as I caught, so once I’ve seen it a few more times, I’ll pass along the easter eggs.

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins Returns

Are you planning to see Mary Poppins Returns? Have you seen it already? Let me know your thoughts!

In Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, an all-new original musical and sequel, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives following a personal loss. Emily Blunt stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any ordinary task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light—and life—to the streets of London. “Mary Poppins Returns” is directed by Rob Marshall. The screenplay is by David Magee and the screen story is by Magee & Rob Marshall & John DeLuca based upon the Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers.

Mary Poppins Returns will be released in U.S. theaters on December 19, 2018. Get your tickets for Mary Poppins Returns.

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The Wonderful World of Zootopia

You want to know why your mother and I are so happy?

Because we gave up on our dreams and we settled.

So begins the plot of the latest Disney animated flick about the bullied bunny daughter of two carrot farmers as she heads to the big city of Zootopia to become the first bunny police officer. Ginnifer Goodwin’s sweet and innocent voice lends itself to the character of Judy Hopps perfectly, and compliments the sass of Jason Bateman’s foxy Nick Wilde.

Zootopia is beautiful

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

While the message of inclusion feels a little heavy handed at times (think Fern Gully and Happy Feet), it’s a good message and one of being able to do anything regardless of who you or what others perceive of you. Shakira’s Gazelle character sings an upbeat song about trying everything, which serves as one of the main themes of the movie.

The imagery is visually stunning with vibrant colors and intricate animation depicting the tiniest details of the many climate controlled districts designed to accommodate anthropomorphic mammals of all walks of life from the arctic Tundratown to the deserts of Sahara Square.

Judy recruits hustler Nick to help her in a case which she promises the wife of a victim to help solve, despite the near loss of her job for doing so.

The film is ripe with clever one liners and adult jokes to keep childless grownups like me happy, but cute and sweet enough that I want to take my niece and nephews to see it.

Life isn’t an animated show where you sing a little song and your insipid dreams come true.

You’ll also find a few Frozen nods if you look closely enough. In one scene, two little elephants are dressed up as Anna and Elsa.

Zootopia Anna and Elsa Frozen Easter Egg

ZOOTOPIA – TUNDRATOWN. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Zootopia Easter Egg Anna and Elsa Frozen

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Even one of the characters, Duke Weasleton, voiced by Alan Tudyk, is a subtle nod to Anna and Elsa’s foe, the Duke of Wesselton (also voiced by Tudyk).

You play cribbage with a weasel
And he cheats

A lot of stereotyping animals occurs throughout the film, but of course, my favorite scene is still the DMV sloths. Sure, they may be slow, but they are the most adorable, funniest creatures in the movie. They just look so happy! And Flash is the man.

Zootopia Sloths - Flash

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved. I love him so hard.

The movie includes sloths (which I’m seriously hoping means there will be more sloth toys and accessories for me to collect as a result of this movie) and mention cheese; the only thing missing from my favorite things was dolphins, but maybe we’ll see Zootopia 2: Under the Sea coming soon.

Oh sweet cheese and crackers.

Zootopia Slothursday Snapchat filter

Even Snapchat was all, “Chrissy, the sloths love you and want to dance with you.” (Follow quirkychrissy on Snapchat for more weird snaps)

As Judy and Nick follow leads through Zootopia, an unlikely friendship between Predator and Prey occurs despite Judy’s fox away spray. But hey, at least she didn’t opt for the fox taser.

Oh come on; when is there not a need for a fox taser?

Zootopia Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

In the end, Zootopia acknowledges our flaws, through its humanless world and looks to a brighter future, as long as there are good guy fighting the way.

The world has always been broken; that’s why we need good cops like you.

Have you seen Zootopia yet? What animals are you most looking forward to watching on the big screen? What’s your favorite Disney movie to date?

Zootopia opens in theaters everywhere on March 4. No one paid me to say nice things, but I was able to see an early screening of the movie in order to review it. I went because of the sloth trailer. Can you blame me?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Dreamers Need to Stick Together

Disney has been knocking them out of the park with magic lately. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to see a pre-screening of Disney’s Tomorrowland, which hits theaters today. It was worth every second. The premise of Tomorrowland begins with a parallel universe of dreamers that welcomes young inventor, Frank Walker (George Clooney), after he sneaks through the front door. The movie jumps back and forth from Walker’s childhood and the story of Casey Newtown (Britt Robertson), who stumbles upon a glimpse of Tomorrowland through a magic pin and looks to Walker to help her get back in.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

After Casey discovers the existence of Tomorrowland, Athena guides her to Frank, an unwilling participant in the return to the future. Much of the movie is spent escaping killer robots on earth as Frank, Casey, and Athena eventually  work together to return to Tthe titular universe.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Tomorrowland is a place where anything is possible if you just dream it. Very innovative Disney. You’ll note a few odes to classic Disney, and I have to admit I cried a little bit when they showed a scene featuring the “It’s a Small World” ride. I can’t help it. Disney World makes me cry nostalgic tears.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

I honestly didn’t know what to expect; I just knew I wanted to see this flick. You know how I feel about Disney. The action sequences are fun, and the humanistic robots are pretty entertaining to watch (look for some SERIOUSLY entertaining cheesy grins). There are some incredibly inspirational lines that made my heart burst.

-Dreamers need to stick together-

Clooney is a convincing pessimist who’s lost all hope while Roberston shows us that optimism is full of hope. Raffey Cassidy is bright and full of life as the mysterious little girl, Athena. Hugh Laurie (omg House!) plays a phenomenal bad guy who gives you just enough of an impression that he’s doing it for the greater good but…is he? You’ll have to find out for yourself.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

The story is all about believing, dreaming, and never giving up. All my favorite themes of whimsy. As a writer and a dreamer, I sometimes need reminders not to give up. This was a good one. Fun for the whole family, this movie is full of fun, action, friendship, and innovation. Because jetpacks were designed to inspire people, right?

Are you looking forward to seeing Tomorrowland? Are you a Disneyphile like me? What types of movies energize you?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Do You Want to Build a Snow Man? Movie Review of Disney’s Frozen

You guys.

Today, Frozen comes out. If I weren’t so darn busy this weekend, it would be a MASSIVE priority to take my niece and nephew to see this puppy. Luckily for me…I’ve already seen it.

Because wow.

Disney's Frozen Movie Review

First and foremost, if you’re going to see this movie, MAKE SURE YOU GO IN 3D.

I can’t stress this enough. Brian can’t stress this enough. Just do it. And note that you’re doing it for the short that precedes the movie. Brian was so impressed that he wanted to tell you all about it immediately. And of course, he wanted to spoil it for you so I said, “No, Brian. I’m writing this review. And I’m going to tell them that the short is awesome, and the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. But I’m not going to tell THEM about it. It’ll ruin the awesome.”

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In all seriousness, Blog Friends, Brian really enjoyed the movie, but mostly he was obsessed with the short. It was really cute.

Now, on to Frozen.

The premise of Frozen is one of my favorite fairy tales of all time, The Snow Queen. I would make my mom rent the Fairy Tale Theatre version from Blockbuster EVERY time I was sick at home because I loved it so much.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

This story takes a much different turn on the Snow Queen, but it’s just as lovable. Two sisters, Elsa and Anna grow up as princesses, and one is set to become queen. She’s got some crazy cool powers, but can’t seem to get them under control…and accidentally freezes the entire village. Anna must try to help her sister before it’s too late! (Did I do a good job avoiding spoilers? I hope so.)

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Anyways, the movie was wonderful. I laughed. I cried. I laughed some more. You all know how much I love Kristen Bell (hello adorable sloth-loving friend!) Well, what I didn’t know was that she’s got a Broadway musical background and a stellar voice. Idina Menzel anyone? I saw her live over the summer and she’s as funny in real life as she is musically talented.

 

The two princesses belt out into the best Disney musical soundtrack since the golden age of Disney. It renewed my dream of writing Disney lyrics. They’re witty and whimsical with the perfect hint of grown-up language to help build children’s vocabularies.  I stand by the fact that Disney made me smarter.

Anna reminded me a little of Rapunzel, but with a little bit more worldly experience (even though she hadn’t really had any either). Elsa was sad and beautiful, but took a stand to be her own person, much like Ariel, though not on a hunt for her dream prince.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The comic relief comes from everyone, but Olaf the Snowman who couldn’t wait for summer was super fun. Kristoff and his reindeer Sven were also fantastic. Kristoff talks to his reindeer, but Sven never talks, much like Prince Charming’s horse in Sleeping Beauty. Of course, the difference is that Kristoff responds on behalf of his reindeer. And it’s fun. Look for the sassy pants trolls to add a little extra joy to an already wonderful movie.

Go forth and see this movie. And stay through the very end of the credits. There’s an extra clip!

Frozen opens Wednesday, November 27, 2013.

Website: Disney.com/Frozen
Facebook: facebook.com/DisneyFrozen
Twitter: Twitter.com/DisneyAnimation
 
FROZEN (In 3D)
DISNEY
Genre: Animated Comedy/Adventure
Rating: PG
U.S. Release Date: November 27, 2013
Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Screenplay by: Jennifer Lee
Original Songs by: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Original Score Composed by: Christophe Beck
 
I was not compensated to write this review, though I was given the opportunity to see the movie prior to its opening to facilitate this review.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!