Lin-Manuel Miranda in Mary Poppins Returns: What the critics are saying

What did movie reviewers think of Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Mary Poppins Returns?”
Below are relevant excerpts, in order more or less from most to least positive, and links to the full reviews.
Miranda is not the only Broadway veteran involved in the film, which opens in New York movie theaters next Tuesday, December 18 and nationwide the following day.  It features cameos by Dick Van Dyke (Tony winner for Bye, Bye Birdie) and Angela Lansbury (14-time Broadway veteran, five-time Tony winner), and the cast includes Meryl Streep (five-time Broadway veteran), Ben Whishaw (The Crucible) and Jim Norton (Tony winner and six-time Broadway veteran). Even the movie’s director, Rob Marshall, has numerous Broadway credits as performer and choreographer; he also co-directed the most recent Broadway revival of Cabaret. And the movie’s songs are by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Tony-winning songwriters of “Hairspray” the Broadway musical, as well as “Catch Me If You Can”
But this is the first time that a mass national and international audience can get to see a performance by the artist that New York theatergoers have become accustomed to over the past decade as creator and star of “In The Heights” and “Hamilton.” Miranda has already been nominated for a Golden Globe Award as best actor in a musical or comedy for his role as Jack the lamplighter.

 

Brian Truitt, USA Today
On Miranda:
multitalented charisma machine…Whether together or solo, Blunt and Miranda are endlessly charming
In his first huge Hollywood role, Miranda sparkles throughout, from flirting with Mortimer to singing “Trip a Light Fantastic” amid bicycle stunts and street-light parkour. (For the record, Miranda’s cockney accent is a supercalifragilistic step up from Dick Van Dyke’s as chimney sweep extraordinaire Bert in the first “Poppins,” but look out for the 92-year-old Disney legend’s neat cameo in the sequel.)

On the Movie
While narratively no match for the classic Disney musical, the new “Mary” adds new songs and multitalented charisma machine Lin-Manuel Miranda to the mix for one undoubtedly comforting nostalgia-fest.

David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter
On Miranda
Jack’s role as the spiritual heir to that Dick Van Dyke character (with a slightly more convincing Cockney accent) is clear from his opening number, “Underneath the Lovely London Sky,” which sets the scene with a vivid sense of place and a dash of everyday magic. Miranda was the casting wild card here, but the Hamilton creator is a snug fit, bringing a pleasingly gentle manner and a twinkle in his eye that make him just as beguiled by Mary Poppins’ mad skills as the children.

On the Movie
Sticking close to the enduring classic’s template while injecting plenty of freshness to give the follow-up its own distinct repro vitality, this lovingly crafted production delivers both nostalgia and novelty.

Joshua Rothkopf Time Out
On Miranda
It won’t take the wide-eyed presence of Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda… to put you in mind of Brexit tensions or America’s own xenophobic moment.

On the Movie
Disney’s improbable sequel—coming a full 54 years after the original fantasy—is a risk that pays off, magically.

Owen Gleiberman, Variety

On Miranda:
From the opening moments, when Lin-Manuel Miranda, as Jack the cockney lamplighter, raises his puppy-dog eyes and pure-heart grin to sing “(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky,” you’ll likely find yourself in the grip of the film’s old-is-new, stodgy-is-soulful elation.

On the Movie
It’s a rapturous piece of nostalgia — a film that devotes itself, in every madly obsessive frame, to making you feel happy in the guileless way a movie still could back in 1964.

Brian Lowry, CNN

On Miranda
Miranda…is no slouch, occupying what amounts to the Dick Van Dyke role as Mary’s cheerful sidekick in the kids’ fantastic adventures. That said, when the real Van Dyke shows up in what feels like a too-brief cameo, it provides the movie with an enormous jolt of energy that had been conspicuously lacking — so much so that you wish the actor and his fellow nonagenarian, Angela Lansbury, would hang around a bit longer.
On the Movie:
perfectly passable, but well short of practically perfect.

Justin Chang in the L.A. Times
On Miranda
Miranda, for his part, is there to help usher the audience’s Mary Poppins nostalgia into the 21st century, to sell us on the idea that this quaint vision of 1930s London might be worthy of its own hip, “Hamilton”-scaled phenomenon.
Perhaps so, though it will take more than a cheek-spraining smile and a vowel-butchering Cockney accent to pull it off.

On the Movie
So much obvious care has been taken to reproduce and update the charms of the Robert Stevenson-directed original — to deliver an old-fashioned yet newfangled burst of family-friendly uplift — that “Mary Poppins Returns” winds up feeling both hyperactive and paralyzed. It sits there flailing on the screen, bright, gaudy and mirthless, tossing off strained bits of comic business and all but strangling itself with its own good cheer.

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Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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