Yesterday, on day one 2019, I took a leap of faith and went to see the movie, Mary Poppins Returns. The leap for me is that in the not-too-distant past, the bright flashing lights on screen and sporadic loud bursts of noise due to the showing of multiple movie previews, have triggered migraines. This time I came prepared with eye shades for 30 minutes of coming attractions and it worked–no headache. It was the first movie, in a theatre, that I have been to in ten years because of the migraines. Thus it was a “new year event” and trial for me. The movie was playing in a very comfortably posh yet cold and charmless uptown theatre. Posh in the sense that the seats were puffy leather recliners with enough space between them to accommodate serious snoring without disturbing the person next to you or a great lateral position for watching a meteor shower. Cold in the sense of “artless.”
The real headache or heartache in this instance is my disappointment in the movie. Somehow I missed this review that appeared in the New York Times:
“Bathed in nostalgia, “Mary Poppins Returns” is being framed as a homage, and there’s clearly some love here. Mostly, it is a modest update, one that has brushed off the story, making it louder, harsher, more aggressively smiley… no, what’s odd here is how closely the new movie follows the original’s arc without ever capturing its bliss or tapping into its touching delicacy of feeling… (or) the songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman — who have done memorable work elsewhere — are the gravest disappointment.”
“A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Jolly Holiday,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” and of course “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” — these are songs that get in your head, body, memory, and there’s nothing here with comparable melodic or lyrical staying power.”
I could not say it better or express my totally unexpected disappointment any stronger. I was eleven years old in 1964 when the original Mary Poppins appeared on the large screen with her umbrella and carpet bag filled with magical and musical possibilities. However, my parents and all other adults were equally as charmed and buoyed by the story and songs at the time, That is why I (maybe too nostalgically) had such high hopes going into this theatre–that despite my social security-collecting age–I could still trip along the cobble-stoned streets with all the delight of an ageless child. Indeed, I was hoping for a couple of hours of magic to start off the new year. The closest I came to it was when I hit the seat’s recline button by mistake and thought the movement was part of the story magic. (Yes, I can be easily swept away under the right illusions).
It was not my original intention to write a bad review, however I feel sad that the new movie is so heavy on proselytizing and light on sweetness. Speaking of light–the day was very bright and Spring-like. I also had my own dance with tripping lights (please read the previous post) that turn themselves on and off at whim in my house, but that for another post.
In all fairness, the acting was fine if a bit heavy at times, and Dick Van Dyke’s tap- dancing on a desk at age 90-something was special. Meryl Streep played her character with a heavy-hand, however Angela Lansbury showed up at the end with the right touch of British charm.
Re-makes or sequels can be creative and work to enhance the original yet stay true to their own vision. Just not here.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious–the Super Bowl of haiku syllable counting