Mary Poppins Is A Classic You Need To Revisit

This past weekend my wife and I took the time to go and see Mary Poppins Returns. When I first saw the trailer, I was deeply saddened: too many badly done remakes already. I was sure they would ruin one of my most cherished childhood memories.

That didn’t last long, because before the trailer was even twenty seconds old it was clear that this was a continuation of the story, much as P.L. Travers wrote a series of eight books about the best nanny in the world: Mary Poppins.

This movie is deeply appealing to two groups: children under eight who will love this new classic, and adults over fifty who grew up with the original Mary Poppins.

When we got to the theater, I looked at all of the gray heads in the room and asked how many were there because they loved the original. Smiles of pure joy greeted the question. Many of these people had grandchildren, or great-grandchildren with them. Others were perhaps old enough to be my mother’s age, and had taken their children to see the original in 1964.

I don’t think any of us were disappointed by what we saw on Saturday afternoon. Whimsical, colorful, great effects, beautiful music, and a non-stop action that would engage children of any age. I would suspect that teenagers would not be fans because it’s a bit too young for them, and they have no strong memories of the original – that’s a television thing for them at best. I know my Goddaughter wasn’t impressed, and I fully understand that given the above.

As I watched the movie, I was floored with the way it dovetailed with my memories of the original. Mind you, I hadn’t seen the movie in about 50 years, so the memories were questionable. But I found myself choked up watching this modern movie for the first time.

Why? I was blown away by the artistic similarities to what I watched as a little boy. The spirit of the thing was also very close. The music, the references to the original, and the sheer joy of the story tapped into the little boy who grew up on the East Side of Saint Paul, and probably watched the original in one of the remaining movie palaces in downtown in a much more simple time in his life. No work, no bills, just an afternoon with my mom and siblings in a theater eating popcorn and SnoCaps.

When the movie was over, I started questioning those memories and had to know: was the original as magnificent as I’d remembered it to be? Amazon Prime answered that question for me on Sunday afternoon.

The answer is a resounding YES!! I knew every word to every song. I laughed and cheered watching the antics. I teared up more now than I would have in 1964 to be sure, as there are some terribly important messages to adults in that movie. (I plan to read all the Mary Poppins books next fall to make sure the message sticks with me.)

We all forget what magic there is in childhood. I think the movie took its deepest roots in me due to the soundtrack. Mind you, for the young people in the readership, people didn’t buy a lot of records in that era who were raising 4 kids on a teacher’s salary (or guidance counseler) with a stay-at-home mom. So the records you purchased had to have some impact and staying power. That soundtrack album from Mary Poppins, with the cover art depicted below, was a huge part of my childhood listening. The other records, to help explain how I wound up twisted like this, were The Ballad of the Green Berets, Johnny Horton’s Greatest Hits, The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters, and Bob Newhart: The Button Down Mind Strikes Back! The Partridge Family came along a bit later, but those first five created what you have today.

My point is simple: go and see the movie. If you have the ability to do so before it leaves the theater, stream the original before you go. Both are beautiful.

I truly consider it a blessing to have enjoyed both this weekend. I hope you find the same.

Be blessed, and remember “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

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My second novel, Nicholas of Haiti, is now available. Go fetch your credit card for the Kindle, print, and audio book versions. This is not a sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes, but a unique book in the speculative Christian fiction world.

Audio book cover on the left, Kindle cover on the right.

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