This “Poppins” sequel has an entirely new score, with exactly none of the cherished songs from the great Julie Andrews movie. Once you accept that, you can move on — and enjoy the countless other joys this follow-up has to offer. It will be a jolly-er holiday with Mary Poppins Returns.
What’s strangest about this almost-comedy, though, isn’t its mish-mash of unlikely genres, but the earnest approach to them. “Apocalypse” begins as a “High School Musical” look-alike with poppy group numbers in cafeterias and hallways. One song, “Hollywood Ending,” is a dead ringer for “Stick to the Status Quo.”
The climactic scene, in both story concept and design, is too complicated and peculiar for my tastes. But until that short blip, co-directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore’s (“Zootopia”) film is supremely intelligent, and Reilly and Silverman once again give deep-feeling vocal performances.
With The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, directors Ethan and Joel Coen venture to the frontier once more, after “True Grit” and “No Country for Old Men.” But this time, there’s only a little grit in this very slow country.