What? I saw a lot of movies over the Christmas break. I deserved it. Remember my realignment post? And I’ve still had time to write these blogs, so take that judgers! This time I’ll be focusing on…
Mary Poppins Returns
Get ready for spoilers.
Just so you guys know, I do try my best to write these reviews without spoiling it for the viewers but it’s hard. Plus, I find it extremely difficult to write any sort of movie reviews without pointing out the story flaws and while
I am also trying to keep my Disney enthusiasm out of this post but it’s really hard; this movie is the second installment of a film we, as a non-unified group of people, didn’t know we needed. It reminded me of Christopher Robin which Disney also produced earlier this year.
Christopher Robin: I’m not the person I used to be.
Winnie The Pooh: You saved us. You’re a hero.
Christopher Robin: I’m not a hero, Pooh. The fact is, I’m lost.
Winnie The Pooh: But I found you.Christopher Robin (2018)
That scene. Hit me right in the feels. Just like the latest Mary Poppins movie. Backstory:
I’m the girl, and this has happened on more than one occasion, goes on the ride and comes out with such a smile that cast members often ask me if I want to ride again. Without waiting in line. Let me say that again for the people in the back. Without. Waiting. In. A. Disney. Queue. That is a ridiculous opportunity (that I never pass up) and of course it happens (to me) on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and not on Frozen, but whatever!
The trailers for Mary Poppins Returns hint at this emotion in the trailers (of course I can’t find proof of it now); when she initially returns to Cherry Tree Lane, she enters the domicile of the Banks children, prepared to care for them. But which ones need caring? The original ones, the adults, Jane and Michael Banks. The plot is simple and not mimicked, which is a relief as it’s not like the first installment. Both children have developed into these bohemian characters (akin to their mother fighting for women’s rights) incapable of navigating life without a life jacket (their realist father).
Or a straight jacket. Michael, having lost his never-seen wife (no pictures, no flashbacks, an interesting choice of imagining), must run a household with three children (who are better adults than he) but actually risks losing it because his wife was the one who take care of the mortgage (and presumably all technical aspects of adulthood). It’s a heart wrenching story but let’s be real–(real spoiler alert) as soon as the problem was told, we all knew they were going to win in the end.
I’m okay with this, don’t get me wrong. I like a predictable story and it’s proven to be a relaxing experience, allowing you to enjoy the tell-tale ‘twists’ and ‘turns’ with limited anxiety. This film was loaded with anxiety for me, why? I do my best to ignore the drama that leads up to a Disney film. Every one has an opinion (clearly, here’s mine) of what it should be like and what would Walt do? The company doesn’t belong to Walt any more (unless he really is cryogenically frozen somewhere), they have to adjust to the newer generations while maintaining the old guard.
I think Disney is playing with my generation. They’re winning the game, as they do since they know they’re playing a game in the first place, but I believe that’s because a lot of my generation haven’t picked up on it. These films, a lot of the second installments, are honing in on how to properly adult. Now, to me, Christopher Robin does a better job of explaining how an adult can be a real adult while maintaining their inner child. Mary Poppins Returns tries to do that, but it’s forced (especially with the Jack character).
I don’t like how the story wrapped up. The family finds the bank shares certificates (which is amazing and applaud worthy…not, pay attention to what you give your children and what they take), but doesn’t have enough time to make it to the bank by midnight (just a few minutes away from discovery). Thanks to Mary Poppins and Jack (along with hundreds of luminary friends), they turn back time on Big Ben. Granted, how they all accomplish it, excluding actual Mary Poppins who could’ve done it as soon as they arrived and not risked the lives of hundreds of men, is quite a feat to behold. I’d be interested to identify whether or not this scene is all CGI (I am exaggerating with the hundreds, I don’t know how many it is).
I am so happy Disney incorporated the old school drawing techniques for the narrative of the Music Hall and Big Bad Wolf; the foreshadowing was strong and albeit, extremely obvious, but I think that’s okay for what is essentially (supposed to be) a children movie. Speaking of which, there is one song, A Cover is Not the Book, that I find doubtful to be considered a song appropriate for children. Considering its me, who has an adult mind and carnal knowledge, as well as considering my childhood where I listened to Eminem before I reached the NC17 rating.
I loved the callbacks and easter eggs from the first installment. Here are the ones I saw:
- Ever true to herself, the first line Emily Blunt utters as Mary is directly lifted from the first movie
- Something else lifted from the first movie? Mary’s cane, her talking parrot–ever the most annoying, but he actually changes a scene quite nicely in this installment
- The ‘Votes for Women’ sash as the tail for the kite; I liked this detail, I didn’t know they did this at the end of the first installment and of course I started singing the song when I saw it.
- Those. Friggin. Penguins. SLAYED. ME. And the return to 2D animation? Perfect.
- I don’t know if this an Easter egg but I’m counting it as one; the callback to the way the opening credits are projected on painted stills of scenes (scenes you’ll see in the movie). Perfection.
- Dick Van Dyke playing Mr. Dawes Jr. Need I say more?
- How about the nod by Meryl Streep to Uncle Albert? Now, I liked the message behind this scene but I didn’t like it in general, it was busy and overly choreographed.
- The sidewalk drawings, did you see it? It’s either after the Music Hall scene or at the ending when Jack sings the closing song, but one of Bert’s drawings was there and I saw it.
How many did you notice? I saw a majority of them, but here are ones I definitely missed (which are confirmed by the director):
- Mary’s hat has a robin instead of flowers and fruit; a nod to Julie Andrews and her singing robin.
- The kite knocks off the bowler hat of Mr. Banks (a la the original father)
- Mary Poppins winks at her reflection then she walks away, but the reflection remains. I don’t know HOW I missed this, but here we are.
Regardless of everything I can recall, I am infallible, I’ll be seeing it again to confirm additional easter eggs I think I saw.
Overall, the music was my favorite, except for Michael’s songs–no one wants to hear you whine, I’m sorry you did this to yourself, sir. Lastly–I swear this is the last time I’ll complain about him–he didn’t learn a lesson! As soon as he obtained any type of security for his future and the future of his children, he went and continued on with his frivolity! I didn’t like the forced relationship between Jack and Jane, they could’ve just been friends–why did they need to include romance? There’s no kissing but he falls all over himself for a girl; that’s not what Bert did, for either Mary or Winnie, so did Jack?
These are the moments that stood out to me. I loved it, I’ll be adding it to my library, and I’ll be enjoying it over and over again. ‘Til next time.