Emily Blunt is Mary Poppins in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventures with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.

Mary Poppins Returns faces the unenviable task of following up on Disney’s untouchable, 54-year-old classic. Delivering a sequel that satisfies in the face of moviegoer reverence that’s been passed down for generations is a daunting task. Director Rob Marshall successfully answers the call, though his own affection for the original holds this charming musical back from being something truly special.

The Banks children are all grown up as Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) visits 17 Cherry Tree Lane for the second time. Michael (Ben Whishaw) is a widower with children of his own. The medical expenses from his wife’s terminal illness forced him to take a loan against the house he grew up in and now Fidelity Fiduciary Bank is threatening to foreclose. Jane (Emily Mortimer) is doing all she can to help Michael through this crisis, but they’re running out of time.

As soon as she floats down from the cloudy London sky, Emily Blunt proves worthy of being handed the umbrella made famous by Julie Andrews. Blunt undoubtedly worked very hard on her portrayal of P.L. Travers’ Poppins, but the charisma with which she imbues the role looks and feels effortless. It is remarkable just how natural Blunt is in a role that most actors would wisely never touch. This movie can only exist because of the wonders Blunt works.

The supporting cast is also terrific. Lin-Manuel Miranda gives the film a jolt of energy as Jack, especially in the musical numbers. Ben Whishaw, an actor we should all pay more attention to, is really great as a father who tries to act strong for his kids before breaking down in front of them and learning/teaching that true strength also includes a willingness to be vulnerable. Emily Mortimer is a powerful source of unrelenting optimism in the face of adversity, though her character could have used more of her own story in this film.

Aside from Blunt, the biggest star of Mary Poppins Returns has to be its practically perfect production craft. The costumes are stunning. The sets are fantastic. The visual effects are seamless, including the much-anticipated return of 2D animation sequences. Every frame of this film is its own spoonful of sugar for the eyes. This movie is gorgeous and is sure to be nominated in multiple craft categories at the Oscars®.

The songs are not going to challenge those of the original for sing-along supremacy, but they are very good. Each track serves its purpose in the narrative and the larger musical numbers are a lot of fun. “The Place Where Lost Things Go” tugs at the heartstrings while “A Cover Is Not the Book” gives the film a little something to say about the state of the world.

Mary Poppins Returns always should have been faithful to the spirit of the original, and it is, but it is too faithful to the structure. So many beats in this film can be traced back to similar beats in its predecessor that happened at roughly the same point in the story. Marshall’s reverence for Mary Poppins served him well in many respects, but it also took away the ambition to give this sequel more of its own identity.

Missing the opportunity to break new ground stops the film short of being great all on its own, but Mary Poppins Returns is still a very enjoyable film. Audiences will be delighted to take a nostalgic trip down Cherry Tree Lane and see more of what made them fall in love with the original, all dressed up with modern effects, and led by an Oscar®-caliber performance from Blunt.