Mary Poppins Returns is a 2018 musical fantasy film, the sequel to the 1964 Walt Disney Pictures classic Mary Poppins. Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Into the Woods), it is set over two decades after the first film and inspired by the sequels P.L. Travers wrote after her original Mary Poppins book.
It's been 25 years since Mary Poppins was nanny to the Banks children. Jane and Michael are adults; Michael has children of his own — Annabel, Georgie, and John, and still living in the family home at Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane. Unfortunately tragedy strikes the family in the midst of The Great Depression when Michael's wife dies. So Mary Poppins comes back to restore joy to their lives.
Emily Blunt landed the eponymous role in February 2016. The cast includes Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jack, Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer as Michael and Jane Banks, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson as Annabel, John and Georgie Banks, Julie Walters as Ellen, David Warner as Admiral Boom and Colin Firth as William Weatherall Wilkins, with Meryl Streep as Mary's cousin Topsy, Dick Van Dyke as Mr. Dawes Jr. and Angela Lansbury cameos as "the Balloon Lady".
Mary Poppins Returns contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: The animated sequence. In the whimsical world of Mary Poppins its shown that the world is whatever (or however) you interpret it. Reality largely depends upon your outlook on life, and the "animated realms" are part of said real-world. The film's Big Bad banker William Wilkins and his lawyers are depicted as a villainous con artist wolf, badger and weasel during the animated scene (and voiced by the same actors). The viewers' expectations that they are masquerading as humans to ruin the Banks family for reasons unknown are all adverted when the film opts to have this entire scene be just the children's nightmare, and their real-life appearances quickly ruled out as merely symbolism. That all said, they couldn't all have the same dream and it's clear it was Real After All.
- Actor Allusion:
- Even with the need for groceries slipping his mind, Michael makes sure there's plenty of marmalade. His actor, Ben Whishaw, portrayed the titular character in Paddington (2014), where his Trademark Favorite Food is marmalade.
- Angela Lansbury (the Balloon Lady) played in a Disney Magical Nanny film set in Britain that was produced following the success of the first Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
- This is not the first film featuring David Warner where the climax is centred on stopping Big Ben from ticking and resulting in the famous clock being turned back in time a little.
- Adaptation Personality Change: Emily Blunt's Mary Poppins has a Sugar-and-Ice Personality as in the books; Julie Andrews's portrayal was much nicer.
- Adaptation Species Change: Mary Poppins Comes Back introduced Nellie-Rubina as a giant, sentient wooden doll, who helps change the seasons from winter to spring. "A Cover Is Not the Book" instead describes her as a tree that looks barren, but still produces blossoms in the spring.
- Alliterative Name: William Weatherall Wilkins.
- All There in the Script: The four animated penguins were named Fred, Cary, and Hardy and Hammy by the animators.
- An Aesop: When times are tough, try changing the way you look at things because you might just find a light shining in the darkness, and sometimes a little imagination and a childish sense of wonder can go a long way to help you find that light.
- The Ageless: Mary Poppins hasn't aged that much in 20 years (considering Andrews was 29 during production of the first film and Blunt was 34 during Returns). The film makes no attempt to explain why, and Mary Poppins rebukes any attempts to raise it as a topic.
- Ambiguous Situation: It's never made quite clear if Big Ben really was running fast, as Adm. Boom complained, or if the Admiral had been getting slow in his later years, as the Bankses claimed. If the former, Mary Poppins is now responsible for finally setting Big Ben correctly. If the latter, all of London is now running five minutes behind schedule.
- Amoral Attorney: Mr. Gooding doesn't take pleasure in foreclosing on people's houses, but he follows his employer's instructions to do so without any particular distress, either.
- And You Were There: The villainous con artist wolf, badger, and weasel during the animated scene are voiced by the same actors who portray Mr. Wilkins and the lawyers. The children quickly realize this symbolism when they see Mr. Wilkins holding the very same watch the wolf held.
- Balloonacy: The finale "Nowhere to Go But Up" features most of the cast flying around in the sky with balloons.
- Baths Are Fun: Mary Poppins teaches the Banks children this by taking them on an undersea adventure during the song "Can You Imagine That?"
- Big Bad: William Weatherall Wilkins, current manager of the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank and Michael's boss. He intends to repossess the Banks household by any means necessary, even going so far as to destroy George Banks's records of owning shares in the bank.
- Big Damn Heroes: Just when it seems like Wilkins has triumphed over the Banks family once and for all, Mr. Dawes Jr., intervenes at the last second to call out his nephew for his dirty deeds against the people of London and has him terminated.
- Big Finale Crowd Song: The film ends with "Nowhere to Go but Up" where most of the characters have fun with balloons.
- Bittersweet Ending: The house is saved and Michael reconnects with his children, but once again, Mary Poppins departs without bidding any of them farewell and they may not remember any of it after she’s gone too (the latter two are downplayed compared to the first film though). Michael and Jane also remember that the things they did with Mary Poppins as children were indeed real and they thank her to themselves too.
- Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Jack singing about the "lovely London sky".
- Both Sides Have a Point: When they are cleaning out the family attic, Michael starts to put their father's kite in the rubbish bin. Jane tries to rescue it, pointing out they had a lot of good memories flying the kite with their parents. Michael in turn points out that they aren't kids anymore and haven't flown it in a long time. He wins the argument.
- Brick Joke: Upon asking to see Wilkins, Jane and Michael note that the old secretary used to have a large bowl of toffees they used to snatch with Wilkins asking the current secretary to get one. When the kids arrive to see Wilkins, there's now a large glass candy bowl of caramels on the secretary's desk.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Mary Poppins switches to a Cockney accent when singing "A Cover Is Not the Book", better fitting in with the bawdy music hall setting.
- But Now I Must Go: Mary Poppins once again takes her leave without saying goodbye. This time it’s when the door of the house opens.
Passerby: Excuse me, do you know where 19 Cherry Tree Lane is?
- Jane and Michael's old kite, once it's found and flown by Michael's kids, becomes the vehicle by which Mary Poppins makes her big entrance. Oh, and the missing certificate of shares? It's what Georgie patched the kite up with!
- Upon her return, Mary Poppins points out Michael still has the habit of keeping his mouth open like a codfish and Jane is still inclined to giggle.
- After Jane gives directions to a passerby note , "The Perfect Nanny" from the original film is referenced.
Jane: Oh, it's two doors down!
Passerby: Many thanks. Sincerely.
Michael: Jane, let's go fly a kite!
- Jane and Michael are trying to get in the bank so they can give Wilkins the certificate and save their home, but he's sent his minions to lock the door. How do they get the certificate which is still part of the kite to him before midnight?
- The climax hinges upon the tuppence Michael gave to his father to invest in the first film, of all things.
- Mr. Dawes Jr. begins to tell the joke about a man with a wooden leg named Smith, but doesn't finish it.
- Once again, Dick van Dyke is at first credited as "Nackvid Keyed", only for the letters to unscramble themselves again.
- The Cameo: In the Royal Doulton Ball sequence, the dog cabby Shamus is voiced by Chris O'Dowd and his horse Clyde by Mark Addy.
- Casting Gag: Angela Lansbury's cameo as the Balloon Lady at the end in a role many speculate was originally intended as Julie Andrews' cameo. Lansbury was actually one of the actors considered to play Mary in the original film before losing the part to Andrews.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The old kite. Or rather what Georgie used to patch it with.
- Also Michael's habit of sketching on the blank backs of documents, as seen when he doodles the 'ten pound note' for John.
- A gun being fired from the previous film: the tuppence which was invested in the bank has achieved sufficient interest to help save the house.
- Clock Discrepancy: Admiral Boom claims that Big Ben is several minutes out, and his firing of the morning cannon is correct. Turns out he is right. Much later in the film, Jack and Jane black out the faces of Big Ben, then stop, reset and restart the clock to buy the Banks family a precious few minutes in their Race Against the Clock. Coincidentally, this puts Big Ben on the correct time. And when Wilkins complains that it has already gone midnight by his watch, he is asked which is more likely to be correct: his watch or Big Ben?
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: Admiral Boom is the only one to complain about how slow Big Ben is, since punctuality is his trademark. Played for Laughs in that he appeared to have gotten the time five minutes slow over the years, and when the clock is pulled back five minutes as part of a Zany Scheme, he believes he was right all along.
- Company Cross References: During Can You Imagine That, Mary mentions pirates who play around all day and never grow up.
- Contrived Coincidence: It's a very good thing that the picture Georgie used to patch the kite with was the Certificate of Shares. Then again, perhaps Mary Poppins knew that and deliberately had the papers stacked that way so Georgie would pick it up...
- Cool Old Lady: The Balloon Lady (played by Angela Lansbury) tells Michael she remembers how he was such a spirited young child, and that he's forgotten it. She's also implied to be the only one of the adults (aside from Jack) to remember Mary even after she leaves again.
- Costume Evolution: Mary's wardrobe keeps up with the times she lives in, from the 1910s◊ to the 1930s◊. She does however keep her trademark colors of blue and red.
- Crushing Handshake: A variant. After overhearing Mr. Wilkins discussing his intent to repossess the Banks home, the kids run through the bank to tell their father. But then Mr. Wilkins approaches saying he only intended to give them some sweets, which he rather forcefully places in their hands.
- Cynicism Catalyst: Michael is understandably despondent and sterner now that his wife has passed. He starts to regain hope when finally breaking down in front of his family.
- Darker and Edgier:
- The film is slightly darker than its predecessor given that Michael is grieving the loss of his wife and faces the very real possibility of losing his home. Mary herself is also truer to her literary counterpart who is not as sweet as the Julie Andrews version. Also, while the original film was a case of No Antagonist (Mr. Dawes and the other bankers simply being misguided folks who initially only care of profits over people's feelings before being set straight by George Banks), this film has an actual Big Bad in the form of William Weatherall Wilkins who actively commits records tampering and fraud to ensure he can repossess the Banks residence.
- This is also reflected during the animated sequences in both films. The animated sequence in the first film was mainly cheerful happy and singing cartoon people and talking animals. The one here starts out that way, before taking a darker turn when one of the children is kidnapped by an evil wolf, badger, and weasel, resulting in an intense chase scene through a dark forest.
- Dead Guy Junior: Michael's son Georgie is named for his father George.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mary Poppins, naturally.Mary Poppins: I've come to look after the Banks children.
Mary: Oh yes, you too.
- Demoted Memories: Michael and Jane disbelieve their own memories of their nanny taking them on magic adventures and insist it was only their imaginations.
- Diligent Draft Animal: The animated sequence features Clyde, a talking but otherwise non-anthropomorphic horse who snarks about the fact that he does the majority of work in pulling the carriage belonging to his master Sheamus the anthropomorphic dog.
- Disneyfication: The Royal Doulton bowl from the second book makes an appearance here, but while its Portal Picture design originally almost trapped Jane 60 years in the past, it's used here for a musical sequence akin to "Jolly Holiday" in the original film. Subverted in that three of the animals (Representing Mr. Wilkins and his lawyers) turn against the kids and steal Georgie's stuffed giraffe Gillie among their other belongings, turning this dream-like adventure into a nightmare.
- Double-Meaning Title:
- "Can You Imagine That?": A phrase commonly used by the disbelieving or gossipy, as if discussing something too crazy to be believed, and Mary's tone in singing the phrase sometimes alludes to that usage - but she is also literally asking the children, who have had to grow up too fast, if they can still use their imaginations in a childlike way.
- "Trip a Little Light Fantastic": A play on the phrase "Trip the light fantastic" (an old term for dancing) and a reference to Jack and the other lamplighters lighting up the lamps of London - "tripping the light" meaning to turn it on at night.
- Dramatic Drop: Michael drops all the papers he's carrying when Mary Poppins walks back into Cherry Tree Lane.
- Exact Words:
- Mary Poppins, Jack, and the kids along with the other leeries attempt to turn back time in the film's climax. Jack climbs up to darken the clock, while Mary Poppins sets Big Ben back five minutes, literally "turning back time."
- Mary Poppins promises to stay "until the door opens." The door turns out to be the door in Michael's heart where he locked away his childhood love of things and imagination. When he admits he thought he had long ago locked away those things but now they are open within him once more, and then a strong gust of wind blows around all, signalling Mary Poppins' time is up.
- Evil Is Petty: Michael eventually realizes that Wilkins is this, and that disgusts him more than the bank taking their house. Wilkins wants the Banks house, even though the family has worked for Fidelity Fiduciary, and sees it as a personal prize. Michael tells the man off for insulting his children and that they were right about the kind of person Wilkins is. A few minutes later, Dawes Jr. calls out his nephew for the exact same reason.
- Fatal Flaw: Georgie doesn't know how to keep things to himself. In fact, this is how he blows his cover on both occasions.
- Foreshadowing: When Michael draws a 10-pound note for Georgie at the start of the movie, you'll notice (blink and you'll miss it!) that he drew it on the back of a bank deposit slip, or something similar. This habit apparently has been around for a while, as he drew his family picture on the back of the McGuffin, the Certificate of Shares. See For Want of a Nail, below. (Speaking of that, take a better look at the other side of the drawing Georgie picked up. That certainly clues you in that it's not just some normal piece of paper.)
- For Want of a Nail: If Michael took the time to take a better look at the drawing that was his Certificate of Shares prior to Georgie using it for patchwork, he would've saved himself lots of trouble.
- Friendly, Playful Dolphin: One appears in the Bankses' bath tub as Mary is getting the water ready.[Dolphin pops out of the water]
Mary Poppins: [Without missing a beat] No, not yet!
- From the Mouths of Babes: This is how Georgie describes his encounter with Mary Poppins to his dad and aunt: "I was flying the kite and it got caught on a nanny!"
- Funny Background Event: After Mary Poppins returns and hires herself as a nanny, Michael and Jane are in the parlor discussing how the magical and mystical things they did with Mary Poppins in their youths were just in their imaginations. They laugh at the idea it could be real, when behind them Mary Poppins is going up the banister once again.
- Fun with Acronyms: Jane is a union organizer for the "Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Underpaid Citizens of England," or SPRUCE for short.
- Furry Confusion: Downplayed during the animated sequence. All of the animal characters are clothes-wearing Funny Animals save for Clyde, a talking but otherwise non-anthropomorphic horse who pulls Shamus the dog's carriage.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Nellie Rubina's story in "A Cover is Not the Book" is implicitly sexual and filled with tree-related Double Entendres. Why Mary's singing this in front of children or how it got past the censors is anyone's guess.
- Good Parents: Michael's main concern is providing for his children's emotional and physical needs. He tries to hide their financial woes, for their sake but breaks down talking about it to them when they get home from the bank.
- Grin of Audacity: When Jack gets over the shock of seeing Mary Poppins fly down on the kite, he grins and says, "As I live and breathe."
- Growing Up Sucks: Well, not in the usual sense, but Michael and Jane have convinced themselves that their magical adventures with Mary Poppins they were kids were just figments of their imaginations.
- Happy Ending Override: Subverted; from what we can see the Bankses remained a happy family thanks to Mary Poppins. The nanny only returns when a new tragedy strikes Michael's family, long after he's grown up and had his children.
- Hate Sink: William Weatherall Wilkins is the Chairman of Fidelity Fiduciary Bank who takes advantage of London's slump to repossess at least 19 homes and now sets his sights on doing so for the Banks home too. Wilkins has no compulsion about doing so despite likely putting multiple families out on the street purely for profit. He's extremely unrepentant about it to the point that his own uncle fires him at the end of the movie. Even after he is let go, he does not leave without yelling at his uncle for being "off [his] crumpet."
- Heroic Bystander: Jack and the lamplighters serve as this on multiple occasions. In the beginning, Jack grabs Georgie just as the wind is about to blow him away, and helps him reel in his father's kite. He helps the kids get home when they become lost in the fog, with a song and dance number to lift their spirits. Then when the Banks need more time to get to the bank, Jack calls the lamplighters to stop Big Ben for a few minutes and buy those precious seconds.
- Hope Spot:
- John and Annabelle talk about selling their mother's Royal Doulton Bowl to pay for the debt on their house; after a scuffle that leads to it breaking, Mary Poppins takes them to her cousin's shop to fix it. Topsy kindly says that the bowl, even if repaired, isn't worth much. Annabelle's face screams My God, What Have I Done? for bringing up the idea.
- In the climax, it turns out that one piece of the certificate of shares (which was cut up by Georgie to patch the old kite) is still missing, so the Bankses will lose the house after all. Just as they're accepting this, the trope is joyously subverted with the arrival of Mr. Dawes Jr., who knows the Bankses are good people and is not happy with Wilkins over his dishonest dealings. Then he reveals that the tuppence Michael gave his dad in the first film was invested and collected a lot of interest over 25 years — enough to save the house.
- Hotter and Sexier: Mortimer (Jane) has stated twice on how this version of Mary Poppins is “really sexy”.
- Human Ladder: The leeries combine this with ladder stacking when they are climbing up the side of Big Ben so Jack can reach the clock face.
- Iconic Items: Mary Poppins still has an umbrella with a bird head-shaped knob and a patchwork Bag of Holding.
- Identical Grandson: Mr. Dawes Jr. looks exactly like his old father from the first film, as he's played by Dick van Dyke with very similar makeup.
- Inexplicably Awesome: Mary, as per usual with her Magical Nanny antics. Jack even tells the children that if there's one thing he learned about her, it's that she never explains anything.
- I Never Told You My Name: Mary already knows the names of Michael's children before they can even introduce themselves, much to John and Annabel's confusion.
- It Was with You All Along: Oh, Michael, next time, flip your drawings around so you know that one of them was the Certificate of Shares before your son decides to tear it up for kite patchwork. Be lucky that it was that one else you were screwed.
- Karma Houdini: Zigg-zagged with Wilkins. On the one hand Dawes Jr. does kick him out of the bank. But considering he tried to destroy any and all records of the Bankses' shares in the bank, he really ought to be in prison for such blatant fraud. The Balloon Lady implies it's his choice if he wants to try redeeming himself or not.
- Legacy Character: Jack the Lamplighter for Bert; he used to be Bert's apprentice as a kid.
- Doubling as a Continuity Nod to the original film, "A Spoonful of Sugar" plays as Mary Poppins first arrives to the Banks household. Also "The Perfect Nanny" is heard when Jane and Michael talk to Mary Poppins.
- When Mr Dawes is furiously calling out Wilkins, "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" is heard.
- Jack is usually accompanied by snippets of "(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky" whenever he gets in the picture.
- Like Father, Like Son:
- Michael is a banker employed at the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, just like his father was (though he yearns to be an artist instead).
- Jane is a political activist just like her mum, except instead of demanding woman's suffrage she's a union organizer.
- Location Song: The film's first song, "(Underneath the) Lovely London Sky", is about the namesake city and shows off many sights around the city leading up to Cherry Tree Lane itself.
- Logo Joke: The Disney Castle is situated in the parks of London.
- MacGuffin: Michael and Jane are searching for the shares their father left them in the bank. It turns out to be on the back of Michael's drawing of their family that Georgie used for patching up the kite. Of course, being a MacGuffin, the signatures are missing, so Mr. Dawes Jr. saves the day with the tuppence from the first film.
- The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: Mary's reflection in the mirror has a life of its own, again.
- Meta Casting: Lansbury had been considered for the role of Mary Poppins before Andrews was cast and starred in Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which is often seen as a Spiritual Successor to the original Mary Poppins.
- Minion with an F in Evil:
- Mr. Frye is the only one who genuinely wants to help the Bankses, despite working as one of Wilkins's lackeys. He's apologetic to Michael on seeing how things are falling out of order since his wife died and begs Mr. Wilkins to give the man an extension on his loan.
- Downplayed with Mr. Gooding. While he clearly doesn't like what Wilkins is doing to the Banks family, he still follows his orders without hesitation until Mr. Dawes Jr. arrives and retakes control.
- Missing Mom: The film begins some time after the death of Michael's wife and his children naturally mourn their mother.
- Mundane Solution: Rather than literally turn back time, as could possibly be expected of this film, Mary and the leeries just pull the hand of Big Ben back five minutes.
- Musical Nod: Many of the songs from the original film have instrumental snippets play during similar scenes in this film, such as "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank" during establishing shots at the titular bank, "Feed the Birds" when Mr. Dawes Jr. recounts the story of Michael's tuppence, and "Let's Go Fly a Kite" during the closing song, "Nowhere to Go but Up".
- Mythology Gag:
- The names of two of Michael's children, Annabel and John, are the names of Michael and Jane's siblings who were Adapted Out for the original film.
- Georgie flies the kite with Jack, but it gets stuck on something. The two pull it in, to find that it's Mary Poppins holding the kite, similar to chapter one of Mary Poppins Comes Back (and the Mary Poppins stage musical).
- Miss Lark appears, only she has a new dog named Willoughby instead of Andrew. In the original stories, Miss Lark had two dogs, named Andrew and Willoughby. Only Andrew appeared in the first film, while only Willoughby appeared in the stage adaptation.
- "A Cover Is Not the Book" takes inspiration from two chapters of Mary Poppins Comes Back, "Robertson Ay's Story" and "Nellie-Rubina". Mary Poppins and Jack also perform this song in front of books bearing the titles of chapters from across the series' first fournote .
- Mary Poppins promises to stay "until the door opens", quoting the chronological Grand Finale of the book series, Mary Poppins Opens the Door.
- Keep an ear open for snippets of several classic Sherman Brothers songs, including "A Spoonful of Sugar", "Feed the Birds", "Let's Go Fly a Kite", "The Perfect Nanny", "Fidelity Fiduciary Bank", and the very last notes of the movie are none other than "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"!
- The "High Tide" chapter of Mary Poppins Opens the Door inspired an underwater sequence for the original film, with the song "The Beautiful Briny," which was later repurposed for Bedknobs and Broomsticks. "Can You Imagine That" finally gives Mary her underwater musical number.
- Among the citizens that Wilkins and the lawyers have for foreclosure are Mr. Trimlet (a shop-owner in Mary Poppins Opens the Door) and Mrs. Corry, the latter of whom was evicted.
- "The Place Where Lost Things Go" has a line about Mary Poppins' dish and spoon "playing hide and seek just behind the moon." Mary Poppins takes the Banks children on a visit to the moon in her last book, Mary Poppins and the House Next Door, where the Man in the Moon — another of Mary Poppins' uncles — hoards every physical item lost on Earth. Michael's children also sing in "Nowhere To Go But Up" that they might fly to the moon.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Had Michael not been so cavalier with his father's papers — like using the back of something as important as his stock certificate as drawing paper and then absent-mindedly mixing it up with other drawings, the climax of the film could've been avoided.
- Non-Nude Bathing: A Zig-Zagging Trope when Mary gives the Banks children a bath. The children enter the bath in their underwear, leading into a Fantasy Sequence in which they are each wearing an Old-Timey Bathing Suit. When the bath ends, we return to the real world and the kids are now wrapped in Modesty Towels, apparently indicating that they were "really" naked for the duration of the fantasy scene. But why then did they enter the bathtub in their underwear, other than, of course, Disney not wanting to show them naked?
- No Song for the Wicked: Wilkins is the only character who doesn't sing either in his own song or part of a group number. Even when he decides to join in for the final number, he is denied that chance.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Michael doesn't listen to his children when they try to tell him they overheard Mr. Wilkins talking about how he's intentionally trying to keep them from being able to repay their loan so he can take their house, more concerned that the kids were running around the bank unsupervised and almost cost him his job.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Lin-Manuel Miranda slips in and out of Jack's Cockney accent during his long "dirty rascal" number in A Cover is Not the Book. Interestingly, for the duration of the song, Mary Poppins uses a Cockney accent herself, occasionally more so than Jack.
- Old Retainer: Ellen the Banks family maid is still with them after all these years.
- Only Sane Man: Jack and Jane are the only sensible people in the movie. While Michael is stressed about the house and the bank, Jane helps him search while Jack focuses on keeping the kids safe during the movie.
- Or Was It a Dream?: After the adventure in the Royal Doulton Bowl, the children awaken back in the nursery, unsure if they really went inside the bowl, until they notice Mary Poppins' scarf tied to the broken wagon.
- Parents as People: Michael looks to be a Nice Guy, and he still remembers Mary Poppins and greets her cordially, but he's also grieving his wife and struggling with being a single father. It's obvious he needs help raising his three children. Any sternness he has about the children getting "nonsense" in their brains isn't because he's a stern stick in the mud, but because of all the stress he's under.
- Period Piece: Set in the 1930s.
- Portal Pool: Mary and the children enter the Fantasy Sequence by immersing themselves in a Bigger on the Inside bathtub.
- Punch-Clock Villain: The ruthless lawyers who work for Fidelity Fiduciary Bank only do what the president of the bank tells them. When Mr. Dawes Jr. arrives to take back control they immediately follow his orders to escort Wilkins out without missing a beat.
- Put on a Bus:
- It is never revealed what happened to Mrs. Brill, the cook from the first film.
- Jack mentions that Bert went off to see the world, traveling to "parts unknown".
- Race Against the Clock: The climax involves this: The family must get to the bank before midnight for one last chance to save their house — but how can they when there's only a few minutes? Have Mary and Jack stop, reset, and restart Big Ben!
- "Ray of Hope" Ending: In Wilkins's eyes at least, he's humiliated and fired, and can't even get a balloon to fly. But the Balloon Lady implies that, if he sets his mind and heart on the right path, then maybe he can find his redemption.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Michael and Mr. Dawes Jr. both give one to Wilkins in the film's climax:Dawes: A little bird told me — winks at Mary Poppins' umbrella, who winks back — that you’ve been trying to cheat the Banks family out of their shares in this bank!
Jack: That he has, we heard him.
Dawes: I also hear you've been telling the whole of London that I've gone loony. The only loony thing I ever did was trust you to look after this bank!
Wilkins: You can't be serious, I've nearly doubled the profits of this bank.
Dawes: Yes, by wringing it out of the customers' pockets! Their trust in us built this bank. You've squandered every last bit of their goodwill. Well, Willie... I'm back, and you're out!
Michael: Don't you dare insult my children! Don't you dare! They're not lying and you know it! I only wished I believed them sooner... Take the house - go ahead. I have everything I need right here.
- Michael gives his after the kids expose Wilkins and the latter claims they're lying.
- Related in the Adaptation: Topsy Turvy becomes Mary Poppins's cousin, as opposed to the wife of one of Mary Poppins's cousins (Arthur Turvy).
- Relative Error: In the beginning of the movie, one of the lawyers refer to Jane as Mrs. Banks, thinking she is Michael's wife. She then clarifies that she is his sister, and is unmarried.
- Remake Cameo:
- Dick Van Dyke, who played Bert and Mr. Dawes Sr. in the original film, plays a minor role as Mr. Dawes Jr. in this film.
- Also, Karen Dotrice, the original Jane Banks, is the woman in the fur coat who takes a flyer from Jane and asks for directions.
- Remember the New Guy?: Jack. While never appearing nor being mentioned by anyone in the original film, we're told that Jack was both Bert's chimney-sweep apprentice as well as a childhood crush of Jane Banks. Supposedly he used to watch her every day in her bedroom window from the street below.
- Retraux: The Roger Rabbit Effect sequences were made with traditional animation.
- Revenge of the Sequel: Has been titled Mary Poppins Returns.
- Reverse Psychology: Once again, Mary Poppins owns this trope. She not only hires herself, as she did with Jane and Michael's own father decades prior, but she also gets Michael's kids to enjoy taking a bath and to use their imaginations by dismissing fantastical things as nonsense during "Can You Imagine That?".
- Roger Rabbit Effect: Mary Poppins and the others again interact with singing and dancing animated animals while inside the Royal Doulton bowl.
- Rule of Symbolism: Michael tosses out drawings of his family to the side, with one of them being the Certificate of Shares because they aren't important to him. It's only at the end when Georgie remembers the kite — patched with a picture that is that certificate and Michael recalls those memories of flying the kite does he see past the family and see what he was looking for. In other words, in his attempts to obtain what he wanted, he forgot what he truly had this entire time.
- Running Gag: Of course, Admiral Boom firing his cannon returns. Unfortunately, no one ever says "POSTS EVERYONE!!" before it happens, likely because the Admiral has been running late.
- Setting Introduction Song: "The Royal Doulton Music Hall" is this in the second fantasy adventure sequence.
- Setting Update: Unique example. The original books were set in the 1930s but the first film moved them back to The Edwardian Era. This sequel is in the 30s, but with Jane and Michael now as adults.
- Ship Tease: Apparently, Jack had a boyhood crush on Jane. Jane appears to reciprocate. While they don't officially get together, their interactions become noticeably more flirtatious over the course of the film.
- Shipper on Deck: Ellen teases Jane about her crush on Jack and spies on the two of them together at one point. Mary Poppins, meanwhile, tries to push them towards each other at every opportunity, and even Admiral Boom instructs Jack: "Don't you lose her, son!"
- Shout-Out: 'Uncle Gutenberg' mentioned in 'A Cover Is Not The Book' may be a reference to Johannes Gutenberg (The inventor of the movable-type printing press) and Project Gutenberg (a website where books are free to download and read from).
- Significant Anagram: Once again, Dick Van Dyke is credited as Nackvid Keyd, with the letters rearranging to form the actual name shortly after.
- So Much for Stealth: Oh, Georgie...
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Trip A Little Light Fantastic ends with a small army of lamplighters leading Mary and the children home and arriving at their door. The camera briefly cuts to Michael opening the door to greet (and berate) them, but when it cuts back to Mary, Jack and the children, all the other lamplighters have vanished.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Especially given this is Mary Poppins after all:
Michael: I don't know what to do. I'm sorry, I don't know what to do. Everything's fallen to pieces since your mother... Haven't we lost enough already?!
- Mary Poppins can fix broken households, but she can't prevent every tragedy. It is reassuring, however, that she only needs to return to help Michael and his children because of unfortunate events in their lives; it means that George Banks to his last days remained a good father to Jane and Michael.
- As Bert warned Mr. Banks, eventually Jane and Michael are going to grow up and have children, and be too old for him to treat them like kids. They won't be able to enjoy their childhood forever, and neither will George. We see this prediction come true.
- Due to Mary Poppins having been out of their lives for nearly two decades, Jane and Michael have been questioning if the nanny of their childhood really did do all the magic or if it was their imagination and wishful thinking.
- All the stresses that come from losing his wife and possibly losing their home causes Michael to break down in front of his kids once they return home after "Trip a Little Light Fantastic".
- Mary Poppins "turns back time" by changing Big Ben. If she could literally change the past, she could prevent every tragedy, as above.
- As Mr. Dawes Jr explains to Wilkins, while Corrupt Corporate Executive /Morally Bankrupt Banker practices may result in immediate profit gains, they ultimately kill businesses in the long term because they scare off potential customers and destroy goodwill with the current ones. No one in their right mind wants to do business with a bank if they know it's looking to rip them off.
- Timeshifted Actor:
- The grown up Banks children are played by Emily Mortimer and Ben Whishaw.
- Dawes Jr. is now an elderly gentleman played by Dick Van Dyke.
- Token Good Teammate: Mr. Frye, one of the two bank lawyers working under Wilkins, who feels for the Banks family and their situation and wants to give them every possible chance to avoid foreclosure. His fellow lawyer Mr. Gooding outright tells him he's unsuited for his job due to his empathetic nature. At the end of the film, he decides to do the right thing by letting Michael in against Wilkins's wishes, and happily obeys Mr. Dawes Jr.'s request to escort Wilkins to the door after he was fired.
- Trailers Always Spoil: The second trailer made a big deal out of Dick Van Dyke's cameo as Dawes Jr., something which is treated as a big surprise in the film.
- Truer to the Text: Like Return to Oz (which was also made by Disney) was to The Wizard of Oz, this sequel aspires to be truer to the source material than the original film, relatively speaking. In addition to setting the film in the 1930s when the books take place (and the first ones were written), Blunt's version of Mary Poppins is more like her literary counterpart — stern, prickly, vain, and not openly affectionate.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: As Mary is sliding up the banister and along to the nursery after reappearing in the Banks household for the first time in decades, Ellen passes by with a perfectly nonchalant "Hello Mary Poppins." Then again, Ellen did see it happen the second time and was gleeful about it.
- Wham Shot: William Weatherall Wilkins being revealed to be lying about not finding a record of the Banks shares in the bank, followed immediately after by him ripping the relevant page out of his records and burning it in his fireplace. Up until then, he was seen as a Reasonable Authority Figure, but that moment shows him as the Morally Bankrupt Banker he truly is.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The broken ceramic bowl gets forgotten about after it's left with Mary Poppins's cousin Topsy. We never even find out if she actually fixed it.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?:
- Subverted. Lin-Manuel Miranda stated that his goal was to sound like "someone who comes from a different planet entirely," but worked with a dialect coach to have Jack's accent sound a bit more authentic than Bert's.
- Lampshaded In-Universe with Topsy, whose accent is ambiguously Eastern European, but never revealed what part. Mary Poppins says, "We have no idea." Topsy is just about to explain it but Mary cuts her off mid-sentence, apparently not wanting to learn the answer.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve:
- The deadline for saving the Bankses' house is midnight, of course. Knowing that everybody in London takes Big Ben's "word" as law, Mary and Jack reset it to buy the Bankses a few extra minutes to get to the bank. When Mr. Wilkins says it's midnight but the clock doesn't chime, he's told that his watch must be fast.
- The only one in London that questions Big Ben is Admiral Boom; in the first movie, Bert said, "The whole world takes its time from Greenwich. But Greenwich, they say, takes its time from Admiral Boom." Turns out the Admiral was right all along.
- World of Funny Animals: The Royal Doulton Bowl sequence takes place in a world that's populated by Funny Animals who wear clothing.
- Jack: I won't forget, Mary Poppins. Promise.
So hold on tight to those you love
And maybe soon from up above
You'll be blessed so keep on looking high
While you're underneath the lovely London sky.