Last month, Claire Foy appeared on Vogue to promote her role as Lisbeth Salander… looking, uncreatively, a whole lot like Lisbeth Salander. And now here we have Emily Blunt fronting the December issue, not as herself, but as Mary Poppins, in a cover story entirely devoted to how she and Lin-Manuel Miranda got involved with Mary Poppins Returns. My question to you is this: When did Vogue decide to become Entertainment Weekly?
And as a brief sidebar, how did U.S. Vogue – the Queen Bee — end up with the mouthful @voguemagazine as its Instagram handle, while plain old @vogue belongs to Vogue International? Is that because Anna fell asleep at the social media switch, or something? Regardless, here is the full cover:
Anyway: To be clear, this is Vogue’s own take on how Mary could look and not (to my knowledge) a costume from the movie. But it doesn’t change my opinion that this isn’t a particularly Vogue piece and it’s certainly not a Vogue cover. Perhaps Anna really is letting the interns run the asylum. If this were The Devil Wears Prada, I would assume our Miranda Priestley had gotten wind that she was expected to step down in favor of a younger, hipper archrival — in this case, let’s say the lauded and buzzy Edward Enninful of Vogue UK, who is only a year into his tenure but has already made it more interesting — and that she chose to handle it by jealously running the beast into the ground so that it would DIE before being handed off to anyone else. Of course, then the eventual epitaph reads, “She Ran Vogue, Until She Killed Vogue,” so maybe not. But this is just embarrassing to me on that one level. It’s so literal, and the story is so surface. It all feels, frankly, like this space was for sale and Disney paid up.
Worse, the photos of Emily are terrible. I appreciate the attempts to put several spins on Mary’s signature look so that it FEELS like An Important Fashion Spread, but it’s gimmicky nonetheless and it doesn’t change the fact that the leading lady does not look very good in any of the final shots. She’s very sleepy-eyed on the cover, like Mary was late for work. Much is made in the story about how Mary Poppins believed herself to be Practically Perfect In Every Way, and in that vein, she would cut off her own head before wearing that windswept hair out of the house (or castle in the clouds, or wherever she lives when she’s not dealing with children). Emily looks even messier in this one, which also appears as if she’s about to spit up all over Lin; it’s basically Mary Poppins drunk-biking. This one is even sloppier and equally sleepy. Here, we have a side-by-side case study in how to pose and give fierce eyes while dancing (Lin) and how to look tense and weird (Emily). I do not even know what the hell is going on here. And the finale? Lin looks goofy and awake, and Emily looks… yes, tired, and only half-present. What happened? I think LMM was summoning his theatre play-to-the-rafters background, and it ends up making her look even more limp by comparison, but… Were these really the best available? Even if he is present in the story, she is your cover star, and it behooves you to service them both, Vogue.
I don’t know. To me, this is the worst batch Anna has put out in a while. It also annoys me that her foot is cut off. Am I just cranky? I did spend a lot of the weekend barfing. (I’m fine.)(And not pregnant.)(It was food poisoning.)
“She’s a superhero,” says Emily Blunt without hesitation. “You could say she’s some sort of angel. She recognizes what people need, and she gives it to them, yet they discover something about themselves in the process.”
But… is she? I love Julie Andrews deeply — SHE is a superhero — and I remember adoring Mary Poppins as a kid. But when I revisited it with my own beans, Mary comes off as more of a jerk in fancy makeup. Not as harsh as she is the books, of course, but nostalgia tells us all Mary is this benevolent bravura being, when she actually kind of jerked those kids’ emotional chains a lot. She introduced Jane and Michael to a load of magic, and then usually scolded or tsked at them the second they tried to enjoy it or hoped for more. She’s just so cross at having to jump into a sidewalk painting. So annoyed that they’re having a race on carousel horses in this funky animated world that she took them to see. So irritated when they dare to get a kick out of a dude SHE BROUGHT THEM TO who laughs himself up to his own ceiling. Doesn’t she even roll her eyes at the little cartoon penguins once? Like, all is well and cheerful when she wants to flirt with Bert and listen to him sing at her about how awesome she is, but God forbid anyone else try to enjoy themselves. And then Dick Van Dyke hijacks the whole second half of the movie with his INTERMINABLE shenanigans as the old man who owns the bank, and the chimney sweeps dance for what feels like four hours… I just don’t know. My adult eyes couldn’t overlook some of that and see Mary Poppins with the same yippee-skippy glee that I did when I was a kid, although in fairness, even then I still fast-forwarded past Dick Van Dyke’s solo stuff.
No surprise then, that the Mary Poppins that emerged from Blunt’s preparations is more tart, clipped, and expressly comic than Andrews’s—“closer to Dorothy Parker, or Katharine Hepburn in those thirties screwball movies, with a bit of Gene Wilder’s Wonka in there,” as Miranda puts it.
I can’t totally parse all of that. It starts to become word vomit. And:
“We got to tailor the songs for Emily and Lin, make them bespoke,” Wittman says. For instance: The songwriters came up with a comic duet titled “A Cover Is Not the Book” that gives Miranda an extended moment to spit rhymes in the breakneck style for which he is known—“For it’s not so cut and dried/Well, unless it’s Dr. Jekyll/Then you better hide, petrified!”—albeit not, thankfully, in the form of an anachronistic rap.
Oof, those lyrics. I have concerns. Let’s talk it out, shall we?