Posts Tagged ‘Mary Poppins’

CTV NEWSCHANNEL: emily mortimer on “Mary Poppins Returns.”

Richard sat down with “Mary Poppins Returns” star Emily Mortimer. She plays Jane Banks, the grown up version of the girl in the original story. We talked about her love of the original book and why the story has great resonance for today.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Read Richard’s review of “Mary Poppins Returns” HERE!


A weekly feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns,” Natalie Portman in “Vox Lux” and Jason Mamoa as the underwater monarch “Aquaman.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Lois Lee to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ness of “Mary Poppins Returns,” the Transformers prequel “Bumblebee,” the underwater adventures of “Aquaman” and Natalie Portman as a pop star in “Vox Lux.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

MARY POPPINS RETURNS: 4 ½ STARS. “mixes the best of old and new Disney.”

Fifty-four years after Julie Andrews made her debut as “the practically perfect in every way” nanny, who flew in (courtesy of her parrot-handled umbrella) and introduced magic to the lives of the dysfunctional Banks family, the beloved Mary Poppins character is back in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The new Disney musical-fantasy picks up 25 years after the events of the classic, with Poppins, played by Emily Blunt, returning to help the Banks children after misfortune befalls the family.

Set in 1930s London during the Great Slump, a city of gaslights and chimney sweeps, “Mary Poppins Returns” sees the kids from the original Michael and Jane Banks all grown up and played by Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer. Michael’s wife passed away the year before and now he, his kids (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) and housekeeper Ellen (Julie Walters) live in the Banks’s family home on Cherry Tree Lane, the house made famous by P. L. Travers.

When the bank calls in the loan Michael took against the house the family risks losing everything. “Pay back entire loan on the house or it will be repossessed in five days,” cackles the lawyer who delivers the notice. On that very day Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), the nanny who helped Michael and Jane as kids, and her magic bag come to the rescue. “Good thing you arrived when you did Mary Poppins,” says Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), former apprentice of Bert from the original film. Mary “I suspect that I am never incorrect” Poppins, helps the Banks family regain the joy and wonder that made their childhood years magical.

From the first song, “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky”—“Count your blessings,” sings Jack. “You’re a lucky guy.”—the movie establishes its uplifting tone. It’s a frothy, satisfying concoction of nostalgia, music, fanciful visuals, elegance and optimism; a spoonful of sugar in bitter times.

Director Rob Marshall has made a full-on musical that mixes the best of old and new Disney. This thoroughly modern movie feels old-fashioned in the sense that it takes its time with the music, allowing the songs to breathe and the lyrics to sink in. But it isn’t simply an exercise in recollection. The smart new songs (written by Marc Shaiman with lyrics by Scott Wittman) refresh a familiar story, mixing seamlessly with snippets of songs from the original film blended into the score.

There are huge musical numbers, including a wild underwater spectacular, but the songs that work best are the more modest tunes like “A Conversation,” Michael’s requiem for his late wide. “These rooms were always filled with magic but that vanished since you’ve gone away.” It is heartfelt and heartbreaking. Ditto Mary Poppins’s “The Place Where Lost Things Go.”

Still, this is a movie that brims with joy. When the spunky Banks kids tell Mary Poppins (no one ever calls her Mary or Miss Poppins, its always first and last names) that they have “grown up a great deal in the last year.” She replies, “Yes. We’ll have to see what we can do about that.”

Like “Christopher Robin” from earlier this year, “Mary Poppins Returns” is ultimately about the importance of staying young at heart. The film essays Michael’s sense of loss and longing, his frustration at not knowing how to go on without his wife but it’s the upbeat attitude that gives it depth. “Everything is possible, even the impossible,” is a cliché but in context it is a call to believe, to have faith. If Michael believes in himself everything will be OK. That’s a potent message, delivered with a spoonful of sugar or not.

The cast impresses, delivering the film’s message with charm and verve. Emily Blunt brings a mix of strictness—“Sit up straight you’re not a flower bag,” she scolds.—and mischievousness to her character, effortlessly slipping into some very big shoes. Miranda provides a dose of musical theatre. Meryl Streep, as Mary’s eccentric cousin Topsy, offers a fun and funny lesson in perspective and Dick Van Dyke’s cameo as Mr. Dawes Jr. connects the old and new.

“Mary Poppins Returns” feels modern without sacrificing its nostalgic charm. There’s no “Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious” but, like the first film, there is plenty of heart.

Metro In Focus: From Maleficent to Scar: The greatest Disney villains

disneyBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada In Focus

Hear the name Disney, and your first thoughts are likely about Mickey Mouse ears, Mary Poppins or the song Let it Go. Uplifting notions born from a company that brags it owns the Happiest Place on Earth.

But for all the cheery feelings the Mouse House has given us over the years, Disney villains have also inspired a nightmare or two.

This weekend, Maleficent creeps into theatres. Starring Angelina Jolie, it is the story of how the Sleeping Beauty villainess became evil after being betrayed by a child. With plumped up cheekbones and headgear with demonic horns, Jolie looks like something from a hellish Hieronymus Bosch painting.

“She isn’t the pretty princess,” says the actress. “She isn’t a beautiful queen. She’s a very awkward, pointy, slightly scary-looking horned creature who goes through a lot in her life.”

Maleficent joins a long list of dastardly Disney villains to inspire sleepless nights.


In The Lion King, Scar (voice of Jeremy Irons) is the brother of the king, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). In a Shakespearean twist, Scar murders his brother and banishes his nephew to gain control of Pride Rock.

Most evil line? “Long live the King.” — Scar to Mufasa before killing him.

Cruella De Vil

In the 1961 animated film and the 1996 live-action film, 101 Dalmatians, Cruella De Vil (voice of Betty Lou Gerson in the cartoon, Glenn Close in the flesh) is a diabolical fashionista who wants to incorporate puppy pelts into her wardrobe.

Most evil line? “Darling, I live for fur. I worship fur!”

Queen Grimhilde

Vanity pushes Queen Grimhilde (Lucille La Verne in the 1937 animated version) to try and destroy the life of her stepdaughter (Adriana Caselotti) in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The evil queen can’t bear the thought that there is someone more beautiful than she, so she first orders her huntsman to kill Snow White and cut her heart out and when that doesn’t work, she feeds the pretty girl a poisoned apple.

Most evil line? “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”


Hands down, the scariest vision in any Disney film has to be Chernabog, the winged demon who briefly appears in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Fantasia. He is the essence of evil and according to Villians Wiki, his hobby is bringing the dead back to life so he can kill them again. Discussing the character in an interview, Walt Disney referred to him as Satan.

Most evil line? Chernabog doesn’t have any lines. When you’re this bad, you don’t need any lines.

SAVING MR. BANKS: 3 ½ STARS. “Hanks is effortless as the folksy Disney.”

saving-mr-banks-tom-hanks-600-370Based on the true story of Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) attempts to convince cantankerous “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers (Emma Tompson) to sell him the movie rights to the story, “Saving Mr. Banks” may be the only documented case of a writer holding an entire studio hostage.

Walt Disney made a promise to his daughter that would take twenty years to fulfill.

The young girl loved the magical nanny Mary Poppins, and wanted her father to bring her to life on the big screen. Trouble was, writer P.L. Travers wanted nothing to do with Disney.

“These books,” she said, “don’t lend themselves to chirping and prancing.” Fearing his adaptation of Poppins would careen “toward a happy ending like a kamikaze,” she tried to explain that Mary was the “enemy of whimsy and sentiment.”

Still, Disney wouldn’t take no for an answer and that’s where “Saving Mr. Banks” begins.

In a last ditch attempt to woo her, Disney flies Travers to Hollywood to work on a script with songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak) and screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford). The idea is to shape a movie that everyone can live with, but Travers, a pinched women whose withering remarks leave welts, is uncooperative.

(Side note: If she really was this contrary in real life, one has to wonder how the controlling Travers would have felt about having her actual life portrayed one screen.)

As the movie unfolds a psychological drama reveals itself in the form of flashbacks to Travers’s life as a child in 1907 Queensland, Australia. Turns out her contrary nature with the filmmakers comes from a deep seeded desire to protect the memory of her father, bank manager Travers Goff (Colin Farrell), a loveable scamp who drowned his inner torment with a sea of booze, and was the inspiration for the “Mary Poppins’s” patriarch, Mr. Banks.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is a serious movie about a whimsical movie. It also has darker underpinnings than you might imagine about the origins of “Mary Poppins.” The glossy Disney sheen casts its glow but the tone of the film is downbeat. Travers is a tough cookie, but heartbreakingly so. She’s a little girl lost, the product of an unhappy childhood that haunts her into adulthood.

It’s a character that could have been a flat line, a portrait of an unhappy woman with a perm-scowl and a bad attitude, but as Thompson allows her icy façade to melt Travers takes on dimensions. By the time we realize that Mary Poppins is not there to save the children but the troubled father the movie starts to pluck the heartstrings but because of Thompson’s skill it doesn’t feel manipulative.

Hanks is effortless as the folksy Disney. He hands in a quiet but lovingly rendered portrait with some real heart and lots of nuggets of wisdom.

Ditto Schwartzman and Novak, who breathe life into the creative process with enthusiastic performances and Paul Giamatti as limo driver Ralph. It’s a supporting role that doesn’t forward the story much but does add some nice light moments that seem to blunt some of Travers’s more deeply set psychological issues.

On the minus side “Saving Mr. Banks” hopscotches between time zones in Hollywood and Australia, a contrivance that slows both stories down, dividing the focus and keeping the audience off kilter for the entire running time. It’s a tough balance and the film doesn’t quite pull it off, but makes the uniformly excellent performances to cover the movie’s languid pacing.

Walt Disney: How a legacy can animate the future. Metro. Nov. 27, 2013

disneyAn “everything old is new again” theme emerges when looking at the slate of upcoming Disney films.

A titan in Hollywood and one of the largest media conglomerates in the world, the Mouse House is looking back at their rich history in a very interesting way.

For instance, Get a Horse, the dazzling new short that plays before Frozen in theatres, is the first original Mickey Mouse theatrical cartoon in almost two decades.

But more than simply being a reintroduction to a beloved character, it’s also a deft marriage of old and new techniques that features, through some technical wizardry, the first vocal performance from Walt Disney since the 1960s.

In the live action roster there’s the Oscar hopeful Saving Mr. Banks, the story of the making of the classic Mary Poppins, and Tomorrowland, an epic sci-fi saga that was allegedly inspired by the contents of a mysterious box found in the Disney archives.

The ninety-year-old company has one eye on the past and the other very much on the future.

“We like to think of our legacy as a springboard to the future and not something that anchors us so you can’t move your feet,” says Walt Disney Animation Studios General Manager and Executive Vice President Andrew Millstein.

“There is a great wealth of characters and visual material but in its day the best of Disney was innovative and moved with audiences. We should do the same. Whether it is Get a Horse or Frozen or Big Hero Six, in terms of our approach to stories or animation or technology, we’re building on our legacy for our future.”

So what should audiences can anticipate from Disney in the next few years? Millstein says audiences should, “expect the unexpected.”

“We have to be fiercely original. We have to give audiences things they haven’t seen before. We want to surprise audiences. We want our stories to be compelling, the worlds to be great, the technology and the visuals to be stunning. If we do our jobs well, that is what’s going to happen.”

Millstein knows what he’s talking about. He’s been with Disney since 1997, when he started there as a production executive in the studio’s motion pictures group.

“It makes me feel very proud that I am part of a company that is creating content and films that you know are going to live for a long, long time,” he says. “We’re part of the zeitgeist of modern history.”