Angela Lansbury's 'Mary Poppins Returns' Cameo Will Take You To New Heights
The cast of Mary Poppins Returns is stacked to the gills with talent, starting with Emily Blunt in the title role, Lin-Manuel Miranda as lamplighter Jack, Emily Mortimer as the adult Jane Banks, and Ben Whishaw as her brother Michael. But that's only the beginning. The movie imports an entire segment of the Mamma Mia cast, with Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, and Julie Walters all in key roles. Dick Van Dyke rolls up and shows off dance moves most 91-year-olds could never manage. But it's Angela Lansbury's Mary Poppins Returns cameo that brings the most joy to the film.
Angela Lansbury plays the Balloon Lady. She doesn't show up until the very end of the film, but her role is an important one. Her character first appears in Mary Poppins Comes Back, the 1935 sequel to P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins novel. (There are actually eight books in the series, all written by Travers between 1934-1988.) She also appears in Mary Poppins Opens The Door, the third book in the series. Her balloons are magic, and she entices those who would take one to choose wisely. When a character picks a balloon, a name appears on it, so one has to be sure it's their balloon before choosing.
In the film, the Balloon Lady's magic is a little more powerful. Check out Lansbury's song.
This number is the equivalent of the original Mary Poppins song "Let's Go Fly A Kite." Mary Poppins is still in residences, but she knows the door is about to open, and she is about to no longer be needed once again by the Banks family. Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) has saved his house with the help of his children (and a little bit of time turning by Mary Poppins). Jane Banks has met cute with Jack the Lamplighter, and the two of them might have found the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
As each balloon takes off, raising the characters above the London skyline, the world has righted itself. There's nowhere for anyone to go but up. Well, for nearly all the characters. Colin Firth's evil banker, now unemployed, is too quick in his balloon selection. In the end, not everyone can pick correctly.
"Nowhere To Go But Up" is one of the best songs on the new Mary Poppins Returns soundtrack. Like the best songs in the original movie ("Feed The Birds," ""Stay Awake," "I Love To Laugh," etc.), it's simple in its message and simple in its lyrics, which makes it easy to become an earworm for anyone walking out of the theater.
One of the general complaints in reviews for the new film is the songs are forgettable. It's not the songs are easy to forget as much as the lyrics don't stick in your head in the first place. The writers work hard to match the nimbleness of the elaborate Poppins tunes like “Super‐cali‐fragil‐istic‐expi‐ali‐docious.” But this forgets the verses aren’t what people remember. They remember the childlike, nonsense word and the earwormy “Um-dittle-ittl-um-dittle-I.”
The song "Nowhere To Go But Up" nails the simplicity that makes the original Mary Poppins a classic. It's only right then someone of Angela Lansbury's standing is the one to sing it.