I feel like Disney is on a mission to make us feel nostalgic with all the remakes and sequels on their calendar.
Mary Poppins Returns definitely brought back memories of the nanny who once brought magic and fun in the house down Cherry Tree Lane.
When Mary Poppins was released in 1964, I wasn’t even born yet. My mom was still a pre-teen when she saw it with her parents. I guess she loved it too much that when it was her turn to be a parent 25-ish years after, she introduced the movie to me.
I don’t remember much about that moment anymore, save for a few bits and pieces from the movie like chimney sweeps’ dance, Mary Poppins pulling out random stuff from her bag, and the bird lady. But I didn’t forget the songs. Besides who could ever forget Supercalifragelisticexpialidocious? We all felt smart because we knew a long word.
Fast forward to another 20 or so years. Mary Poppins returned with a new movie. A wave of nostalgia hit us all. We suddenly remembered the feeling when we watched the first movie.
We received our second wave of nostalgia when we rewatched the first movie. It has been a habit in our family to rewatch prequels to remind us of what happened to make sure that we wouldn’t miss any references in the new movie. It was two hours and twenty minutes of flashbacks and hella catchy songs. “A Spoonful of Sugar” is still stuck in my head.
I was excited to watch Mary Poppins Returns and oh boy, it was such a delight.
I love how they combined elements from the old movie with the new story. It had a familiar feel to it but it didn’t look like it was a repeat of the first movie.
The movie was generous on everything — the set (my golly, the set), the production, the actors, the performances, the songs, and the time. They let the movie run for two hours and ten minutes. It’s ten minutes shorter than the first one, but they definitely didn’t skimp on all the other aspects.
The sets were impressive. I watched the behind the scenes compilation on YouTube and it showed how they built most of their sets from scratch. Cherry Tree Lane was a set! Everyone was so amazed at the detail when the whole thing was constructed. It looked exactly like how it was in the first movie.
My favorite part was the big production number of Lin Manuel-Miranda with his fellow lamplighters or leeries. When I was a kid, I used to love watching the movie musicals from the 1960s because of the big song and dance numbers (e.g. West Side Story, Singing in the Rain, Oliver). They rarely do that nowadays and the big song and dance number are only seen in cartoon movies. Seeing that same vibe in an 8-minute production with actual dancing and actual singing (and bike stunts!) made my heart leap with them. The best part is that the main characters did the dancing and singing themselves.
I never knew LMM could dance!
Of course, a Disney movie would not be a Disney movie without tugging on our heartstrings.
“Memories you’ve shared, gone for good you feared
They’re all around you still though they’ve disappeared
Nothing’s really left or lost without a trace
Nothing’s gone forever, only out of place”
– The Place Where the Lost Things Go
Remember the line from the first movie when Mary Poppins said that she was there for the children? She repeated the line in the second movie. She was still referring to Jane and Michael Banks, the were-once-kids and now adults who have to have lost their spark due to too much adulting. But she was also there for the three Banks’ kids too — John, Annabel, and Georgie — who were maturing so fast to be able to keep the family afloat from a loss of a loved one.
“These rooms were always full of magic
That’s vanished since you went away”
– A Conversation
That spoke a lot to me. We’ve all been caught in the adulting world. We work too much and stress about everything. There’s nothing wrong with working hard, but being engrossed with trying to solve everything makes us lose our touch with reality. We forget to take a break, breathe, look at a different perspective, and see the light in a foggy world.
I love how the scenes were like mini-lessons on how we could face the challenges of the real world.
The animated scenes (a nod to Bert’s chalk drawings!) gave a glimpse and a kid-version explanation to Michael’s problem with the house. The bathtub scene brought back the imagination and child-like wonder to the three Banks’ kids.
The leeries’ big number (much similar to the Step in Time song of the chimneysweeps) taught us to choose joy in the midst of darkness. Topsy learned that changing your perspective is the key to finding solutions.
“When you change the view from where you stood
The things you view will change for good”
– Turning Turtle
“If a spark can start inside your heart
Then you can always find the way”
– Trip a Little Light Fantastic
The kids realized that there are people who come and go, but it doesn’t mean they are forever gone or should be forgotten. The balloon lady asked who we are and what would we put in a balloon to lift us up. And finally, that storytime scene with Mary Poppins and Jack (and the four penguins!) taught us that there are people who aren’t what they seem. Oh, and read the book to understand the story and not just judge the blurb on the cover.
“Life’s a balloon that tumbles or rises
Depending on what is inside
Fill it with hope
If you see your reflection, your heart will take flight
If you pick the right string then your heart will take wing
And there’s nowhere to go but up!”
– Nowhere to Go but Up
Mary Poppins returned at the perfect time because she returned not only for the kids but for the adult audience as well. I needed that movie because I’ve been a worry wart lately. It’s probably from overthinking and stressing over trying to accomplish many deadlines all at once. I just need to calm down, stop following everything to a T, take a little detour to change my perspective, and enjoy the ride.