I. A Reflection
When I was little, it seems that there were a few shows that merited an annual viewing at my house. They were events. We popped popcorn and drank Cokes from glass bottles and I got to stay up late. The Sound of Music. The Wizard of Oz. Mary Poppins.
While my friends wished they could have the nanny as their own, I wished I was her. Eventually my dreams of flying in on an umbrella and riding the bannister up stairs faded - partially due to my family’s lack of a bannister - but the dream merely took another form.
I didn’t need to possess Mary Poppins’ magic; what I wanted was the magic of Mary Poppins. No, those are not the same.
I wanted to be mythically strange and legendarily rumored. I wanted to swoop in and do unbelievable things that those around were never quite sure were real. I wanted to be the stuff of stories told in adulthood, reminiscing with friends who also took part in those impossible things.
And in order for any of this to happen, I wanted to be wholly temporary. I wanted to leave while attention was elsewhere, adding mystery to the legend.
Basically, I wanted to be a teacher.
I have crafted my career after that. I am a force of surprise on day one. I try to keep my classroom full of the unexpected that reveals truth. I try to share the lessons of life in ways that my students can grasp them before they are expected to. And...after four years...while attention is diverted through great pomp and circumstance...I fly away to the next calling.
And, as Mary Poppins, every once in a while...when the wind is right, I return to children - now adults - who need me.
When a film chooses to return to beloved land, I am skeptical. Most remakes and sequels are entirely unnecessary. As such, they tend to disappoint and, possibly, reduce the value of the original art piece.
As you might already guess, I was not sold on Mary Poppins Returns from the start. Why now? What more? Who would we see? How could this possibly match…?
My doubt lasted approximately 10 seconds. That is because the first name I heard attached was Lin-Manuel Miranda, consummate fan and brilliant artistic mind. There are few artists I blindly trust. Lin is one, and he has yet to fail me. Today’s viewing continued that trajectory.
The film is beautiful. There are enough call-backs to the original film without seeming to apologize for the present one. I was delighted to hear an actual overture to introduce the music that would come, several pieces of which will likely enter karaoke territory for viewers immediately. The titular role as embodied by Emily Blunt is practically perfect. Her voice is, of course, lovely, but her ability to be just enough like Julie Andrews without seeming mimicky is a fine line that she managed to navigate with seeming ease. Miranda’s Jack as her London-bound, lamp-lighting long-time friend is delightful and childlike while offering a knowing grin that acknowledges his history with Mary’s whimsy. The children were all three delightful - and I often find children in comedies a bit...ummm...not delightful. I am a fan of Emily Mortimer, so I enjoyed her Jane immensely.
I laughed. I cried. And my face is a bit sore from smiling. I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head that didn’t ring true. And I’m going to be humming “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” forever.
An immediate check of IMDB.com proves my sneaking suspicion that not just Wilkins, but Gooding and Frye are double cast with animated co-parts, and I love that overlap between the animated sequence and reality. Meryl Streep...sigh. I am willing to overlook how useless that scene is in the same way I was willing to overlook its original counterpart. It is fun, though I honestly think it could have gone farther with the upside-down-ness. *shrug* I thoroughly enjoy that Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury are originally credited with anagrams. I know that Julie Andrews turned down a cameo as to graciously not step on Blunt’s upward pointed shoes, but the presence of Van Dyke proved this to be wholly unneeded. He did not steal any spotlight form the main cast and central plot. His inclusion was a nod to the parents in the crowd, but not a distraction.
And Lin got to rap.
What more could I want?