Mary Poppins Returns is going to sing and dance its way into movie theaters in just a few days, and Disney has unveiled another new clip that shows why Emily Blunt is truly the perfect person to take on this classic role.
Oh, and there’s also a featurette about Mary Poppins’ cousin Topsy, who’s played by Meryl Streep. It goes without saying that Streep is an acting legend, but (*whispers*) she’s kind of terrible in this movie! See for yourself below.
Mary Poppins Returns Clip
This clip takes place early in the movie when Mary arrives at the Banks’ house and begins to look after Michael’s young children. Like the rest of the movie, it’s very clearly meant to evoke a scene from the original; in this case, it’s the scene in which Julie Andrews’ version of the character uses magic to get the kids to clean up their room. Here, Blunt gamely steps up and charms her way through the intro to “Can You Imagine That?” – she has a beautiful singing voice, but anyone who saw Into the Woods, her previous collaboration with director Rob Marshall, knew that already.
For me, the aspect that really makes her stand out are the tiny mannerisms she adopts to give the character some attitude. Watch the way she looks one of the children up and down at the :05 mark. Or her smile at :29 showing that Mary genuinely enjoys using these magical abilities. It’s that mixture of attitude and sincerity that makes her the best (and maybe the only) fit for this role.
Mary Poppins Returns Featurette
In stark contrast to Blunt’s wonderful performance is Streep’s work as Topsy, whom she plays with a vaguely Eastern European accent. These two videos are surprisingly representative of the movie as a whole: the “Can You Imagine That?” clip is a good example of how an actor’s natural charisma and take on a character can briefly overrule the sense that we’ve seen all of this before, while Streep’s Topsy is too eccentric for her own good, a collection of scarves and tics that never coalesces into a believable person. (The character originated in the P.L. Travers novels, but was gender-swapped for this movie.) To watch her in this movie is to be constantly reminded of Ed Wynn‘s Uncle Albert from the first movie, the character who floats across his apartment because he loves to laugh. Sorry, Streep stans – she simply isn’t given the ammunition in either songs or dialogue to be able to measure up here.
Mary Poppins Returns arrives in theaters on December 19, 2018. You can read our full review here.
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