Mary Poppins flies into the Corn Hall this Wednesday

Mary Poppins Returns

Fans of the original Mary Poppins who approach this belated sequel with some trepidation need not worry. The film has been created with them in mind as much as a family audience – it is brimming with imaginative touches that will delight anyone coming to the story for the first time – but there are countless nods along the way to what has gone before.

Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw play Jane and Michael now grown up, and it is Michael’s children that need a spoonful of sugar from Mary Poppins, a role Emily Blunt carries off marvellously. Colin Firth is obviously having a fine old time as the arch villain, as is David Warner as a nutty sea captain. Meryl Streep does a cheeky cameo, and there are some surprise appearances that will bring a lump to the throat to anyone brought up on Disney.

The songs are a bit hit or miss, but the musical hall cartoon section – including those penguins – is utterly magical, while the street-level reprise of the chimney sweeps’ rooftop dance is tremendously good fun. This is a film that has huge respect for the original, but still works brilliantly on its own terms, and in the most delightful way.

By David Vass