The Magic of Mary Poppins … Some Thoughts On “Mary Poppins” and “Mary Poppins Returns”

This lovely poster was bought from the Etsy shop, Heart 2 Heart By Helen

I’ve loved Mary Poppins since I was a little girl. That movie was the first one we went to a drive in for. After that, my mom bought us the Mary Poppins’ album. We listened to it over and over, Those songs became our beloved friends.

Mary Poppins’ Album

Mary Poppins is my favorite Disney movie of all time. Walt Disney did a masterful job in story, music and casting. There is so much to love and be enchanted by in it. The Sherman Brothers music was at its finest…songs like A Spoonful of Sugar and Feed the Birds (rumored to be Walt’s favorite song) captured the mood and gave us all the feels. The singing and dancing was spectacular. The casting was genius on so many levels. Julie Andrews was a wonderful singer and brought the perfect combination of proper English nanny with a twinkle and sprinkle of playfulness in her spirit, too. Dick Van Dyke’s portrayal of Bert made us all instantly love him. He’s the kind of guy you want as your friend. Someone who knows how to seize the moment and enjoy the journey of life. Full of talents from playing instruments to chalk drawing to chimney sweeping to selling kites, he’s a master of many trades yet knows how to play. And oh, how he can dance! I just love his dancing with Mary and the penguins. His chimney dance with the number Chim Chim Cher-ee was also incredible. The supporting cast was wonderful, too. The scenery was so pretty. Didn’t we all want to live on Cherry Tree Lane, too?

Dick Van Dyke graciously answered an autograph request from me…he even personalized it with his character’s name of Bert

I’ve collected many Mary Poppins items. Silhouettes of her and Bert, figurines, a light box, and other treasures grace my home. I have a few Mary Poppins purses, a bracelet and scarf. I love having these bits of her to remind me of her magic.

Some of my Mary Poppins collection

I’ve hosted several Mary Poppins themed parties. One was as recent as last spring. A tea party I got to have with one of my girls. Each time I do the theme it feels magical. If you’d like to read more about this Mary Poppins themed tea party… go to Mary Poppins’ Tea Party For Two…Part 1: The Decor & Activities & Mary Poppins’ Tea Party For Two…Part 2: Food and Table Scape

Some of the recent Mary themed tea

I feel a kinship to Mary. I’ve always loved kids. I’ve always felt quite at home with them. Before I was even a teacher, I felt this and loved to babysit, hang out with my younger brothers and candy stripe in the Pediatrics wing. When I taught school, it was a joy to create fun ways to learn, be creative with the kids, encourage their imaginations and nurture their growth. Mary Poppins and I had a lot in common. There is a scene that really captures some of that kinship. The scene is when Mary leaves. It’s between Mary and her umbrella:

Her parrot umbrella almost scoldingly says, “That’s gratitude for you. Didn’t even say goodbye.”

Mary answers, “No, they didn’t.”

The bird continues, “They think more of their father then they do of you.”

She replies, “That’s how it should be.”

He says, “Well, don’t you care?”

She answers, “Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking.”

The parrot is on to her, and says, ” Is that so? Well, I’ll tell you one thing, Mary Poppins, you don’t fool me a bit.”

She says, ” Oh, really?”

The bird replies, ” Oh, yes, really, I know exactly how you feel about these children and if you think I’m going to keep my mouth shut any longer…”

She promptly shuts his mouth and says, “That will be quite enough of that, thank you.”

She then flies off. The only one who notices she has left is Bert. This scene has meant so much to me as I really relate to it. I love with all my being. I loved each class I taught all out and it was painful to let them go. I was thankful for the role I played, I knew it had to happen, yet when you love that deeply they become a part of your heart. I knew from this scene Mary understood that and felt the same.

A long prelude to say the original movie is very special to me. When I heard about this sequel, I thought I really can’t compare the two. Yet how can you help not comparing? I think you can do both. I’m no professional movie reviewer. These are just my thoughts. As a lover of movies, I know what one loves can be very subjective and vary from person to person. Please know that everyone has a right to their own feelings and perspective that are equally as valid as mine. I’m sharing how I felt and what I thought. SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read any further if you don’t want key pieces of plot revealed. My review is very specific and will share a lot of the plot.

I like to wear the theme when I can….I took these purses and a Mary themed scarf…Lady, sadly, had to stay home, but I did tell her all about Willoughby ( another nod to original with Miss Lark and her dog Andrew and now dog Willoughby ) The Practically perfect purse was bought at Disneyland. the beautiful crocheted one is from an Etsy shop called Two Girlies Handmade

I will begin with some of the things I loved about Mary Poppins Returns. The very first scene drew me in. It was moody and soulful, it took us through a little narrative by song and introduced us to the character of Jack. Which brings me to another thing I mostly liked about this movie. They used a lot of characters that seemed to be related to the originals ones. Jack was the modern Bert. He has a different job. He lights the lamps in the city, yet the movie did a good job capturing similar feelings we felt about the chimney sweeps. Jack is a bit lower key then Bert. He doesn’t do as many jobs, but he’s quite familiar with the neighborhood and its occupants. Especially the grown up Jane with whom he has a little crush.

He knows who Mary and Bert both are and is overjoyed at her appearing. While his temperament is a little different then Bert’s, he is a faithful friend to the children and Mary through the movie. There are other characters that remind you of original characters like Meryl Streep’s Topsy…she is the family of Mary’s now like Uncle Albert was then. Then there are characters they have aged like the admiral, who still blasts off his cannon on the hour. While I might be fonder of some of the original movies counterparts. I loved the way they used these to bring instant familiarity and continuity.

They did the same thing in other ways. The original had an animation sequence and this one had two. I liked the first one the best. Mary is giving the children a bath and suddenly they are in a sea of bubbles with dolphins dancing, large rubber duckies, and even pirates. I also liked the song in this sequence, Can You Imagine That. Another parallel stand out was the lamp lighters dance that was a nod to the chimney sweep one in the original.

The Mary Poppins figurine I got at Disneyland. The Spoonful of sugar sign I got from a great Etsy shop called Farmmouse Signs

I also loved the cameos. Karen Dotrice ( the original Jane) does a brief one asking directions of the now Jane and Jack. When she thanks them for their help, she makes a reference to Jane and Michael’s letter looking for a nanny by saying, “Many thanks, sincerely.” I LOVED that! Angela Lansbury’s part as the balloon lady was wonderful. She was perfect for it. That scene was very well done. It was one of the parts that truly reminded me of the original in all its childlike exuberance. It was another one of those parallel scenes reminding one of the Let’s Go Fly A Kite part in the original. Dick Van Dyke’s cameo made the movie for me. Don’t we just love him? I hope he is the longest lived man in this generation. The joy and playfulness he has for life. The message he shared in that scene is one we all need to remember. Having walked the road of the last years with my dear daddy and his leaving this world, his message meant so much. He plays an old Mr. Dawes Junior. It reminds you of the old Mr. Dawes he played in the original. He begins by saying he may be circling the drain, but he still has a few steps left in him. It’s a message I hope all who see the movie take to heart. We matter from birth to death. Each day matters. We need to live all out each day. On a personal note, my dad’s spirit in his last days reminded me of Dick’s portrayal. He was full of joy and laughter. He lived all his days all out. I hope I can follow his lead when it gets to be my time to do so. Back to the scene, Dick did a lovely little dance in it that just made me so happy. For me, it was the best scene in the movie. It reminded me of another favorite of mine in the original where Bert ( played by Dick Van Dyke) sings a song about priorities to Mr. Banks. I love that scene and how it begins Mr. Bank’s awakening.

I liked the little lessons interwoven in the movie, The worth of the individual no matter how young or old they were. From little Georgie, who knew the value of the kite before anyone else did to Mr Dawes Junior who not only danced and showed he had a few steps left, but also saved the day by living to a code of honor in the trust people placed in the bank. I also liked the theme of the right perspective being illustrated through Topsy’s scene, the scene where Michael realizes his children had the right one, and when Mary gave the kids comfort through the new perspective that their mother wasn’t lost forever and still with them.

Other things I loved in Mary Poppins Returns were that we got to see the continuing story of the Banks kids. They still were in the same house which with a few changes still felt like it. The art work in the beginning credits was beautiful and worth really watching. The whole tone and mood of the setting was very well done. I liked several of the songs, but I think my favorite one and the one that was the most meaningful to me having a son and now a daddy in heaven was The Place Where The Lost Things Go. I loved the kids who played the Banks children. They were perfect and did an incredible job playing such vast emotions through the scenes.

Emily Blunt did a wonderful job. I loved that Mary still flew up the bannister, had a carpetbag full of things, had the parrot umbrella that talks ( he was one of my favorite characters in the movie). She sang beautifully. I think she did a good job especially playing the proper and sometimes exasperated Mary. There were several scenes where she had such a joyful expression. I wish there had a been a few more of those. Michael’s children, who are now under her charge, have had a rough time with the loss of their mother and I liked the scenes where she shows a softness for them in that.

The first time I saw the movie, I didn’t like it as much as the second time. I think it took me the second time to distance myself enough from comparing it to the original. I could view it in it’s own right. My only things I didn’t like were that I wish there was more interaction between Jane, Michael and Mary. I feel, also in the original, Bert helped us see the softer side of Mary. While we did see some of her playfulness come out in the animation scenes, I’d have liked to see more of the softness. Blunts’ Mary felt more distant to me, more prim. I think some of that was the way she was written, While I liked the music of this one. I have to say I loved the original score more. Of course, I’ve had years for it to become beloved. Lastly, I didn’t like seeing Colin Firth as a bad guy, but that is just a personal thing …he is always Mr. Darcy to me and I felt disappointed in him…lol.

If you are a lover of the original Mary Poppins, like I am, I think it’s important to allow this movie to shine in its own right, It definitely has its own gifts to bring. It still reminds us what matters and what doesn’t. It also calls us to go fly a kite or buy a balloon and play and how truly important it is to do so. I think Mary Poppins was close to Walt Disney’s heart because he believed so strongly in its message. A message that is timeless. We must always be in touch with the wonder, imagination, play of childhood that is something we should never grow up from. Mary Poppins Returns reminds us once again the value of that truth.

My husband and I do Disney themed Christmas cards every year. One year we did a Mary Poppins themed one. He was Bert, I’m Mary and our Mickey was Mr. Banks.