What would the real Walt Disney say, I wonder, about the sequel to his beloved 1964 live action/ animation movie Mary Poppins which was nominated for no less than 13 Oscars, including Best Picture and won Julie Andrews the Best Actress gong for her screen debut? Are they mad to even attempt to follow on from a movie that is ‘practically perfect in every way’ with Emily Blunt, surprise surprise, hamming up this sacred role.
Surely there’s only one Mary Poppins, even if the book’s author Pamela L Travers famously disapproved of Disney’s adaptation of her central character.
In hindsight, Walt got it right, softening her edges and adding all that singing and dancing, so beautifully executed by the mighty talent of Julie Andrews.
Disney understood the magic of childhood like no other and his take on Mary Poppins certainly gave my formative years a sprinkling of fairy dust never to be forgotten.
I’m rather miffed there’s an interloper floating in on her umbrella, carpet bag in hand, turned out boots not quite how you remember. As Bert (Dick Van Dyke) says in the opening scenes of the original, ‘Winds in the east, mist coming in, / Like somethin’ is brewin’ and ’bout to begin. / Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, / But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
So before my golden memories are forever stained by a generation who will probably never watch the predecessor, here are a few lessons the Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins taught us about life and family:
PRESENCE OVER PRESENTS
A timely reminder this Christmas to put the smartphone down and channel your inner Mary Poppins by truly listening to your kids and spending some time, not screen time, with them. The movie won’t be enough, you’ll have to put in a bit of effort. Maybe, um, go fly a kite and send it soaring..without any Instagram evidence.
CELEBRATE YOUR IMAGINATION
Nothing was too fantastical for Mary Poppins from jumping into a footpath chalk drawing for a sing and a dance to talking to her umbrella or a robin redbreast or tortoises for that matter. That sense of adventure and sponteneity meant she was fun to be around, firm but fair and always kind to Jane and Michael Banks who so desperately yearned for their parents’ attention.
LEAN TOWARDS JOY
Mary Poppins was no social climber. She understood the best relationships are based on having a laugh and Bert, the humble chimney sweep certainly knew how to make those pearly whites dazzle. The on-screen chemistry between the pair reminds us to stop being so serious with this adulting mularkey and enjoy the craic while we can.
SHOW UP WITH INTENTION
Expect to see the Mary Poppins effect in fashion from sharp tailoring to tilted hats, this supernanny understood the power of clothes to express how you wish to be perceived. The Mary Poppins silhouette offers the perfect antidote to the athleisure trend for those who like to dress up, turn up and add a bit of personal quirkiness to their look.
It may take more than a spoonful of sugar to help the new movie go down, but as Mary Poppins would say, ‘Practically perfect people never permit sentiment to muddle their thinking’.