Mary Poppins Returns Parent Guide
This film ticks all the boxes for a pleasant family viewing experience but it feels like the "spoonful of sugar" was left out.
Parent Movie Review
“I was flying a kite and it got caught on a nanny,” announces an excited Georgie Banks (Joel Dawson) to his father, Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Aunt Jane (Emily Mortimer), who are in the middle of a discussion concerning Michael’s dire financial situation. Luckily for everyone, the nanny Georgie caught is none other than the inimitable Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt).
Mary Poppins’ special talents are badly needed because the Banks family is facing a crisis. Michael, recently widowed after the premature death of his wife, is floundering under the debts he assumed to cover the costs of her medical care. Jane is horrified to discover that unless Michael can pay back the loan – which is bigger than his annual income – he will lose the house in five days. Michael is an artist and part-time bank teller, and in Depression-era England, there is little chance of finding better employment. Their only hope is selling the bank shares bequeathed to them by their father, but neither Jane nor Michael know where the share certificates are, so they undertake a frantic search of the house.
In the meantime, Mary Poppins takes the children in hand. Unlike the original Mary Poppins movie, where Jane and Michael had to be trained out of being lazy, selfish, and argumentative, the younger generation of Banks children are generally earnest, helpful, responsible, and desperate to help their father and save their home. In this film, Mary Poppins is much less didactic and teaches the children gentle lessons, almost entirely through song. “A Cover Is Not the Book” warns the kids against judging based on appearances; “The Place Where Lost Things Go” comforts the mourning youngsters; “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” urges them to find light in dark places….and so on.
Audiences will not be surprised by the direction the plot takes. A happy ending is expected and is provided. But as with any Disney production, the joy is in the journey. Mary Poppins Returns dishes out a pleasant viewing experience, with top quality acting talent (Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke), catchy tunes, energetic choreography, cohesive visual design, an almost total lack of negative content, and outstanding CGI and animation. This is a good family movie and the audience at the screening I attended clapped and cheered at the end.
I feel a little churlish at admitting to a touch of disappointment with this production. It may simply be that because the original Mary Poppins was my favorite childhood film, nothing else will measure up to a movie that is “practically perfect in every way”. Still, this sequel does come with a few flaws. The music is appealing but the soundtrack isn’t nearly as memorable as that of the original film. One of the musical set pieces is centered around a china bowl, and the manufacturer’s name – Royal Doulton – is referred to so often in speech and song that it begins to feel like a product placement. And, finally and most seriously, the movie doesn’t draw viewers in. I felt like I was watching actors on a stage; not like I had been swept into another world, which is the hallmark of any great movie. Maybe the pixie dust was left out or maybe it just needed a “spoonful of sugar”. Whatever the reason, Mary Poppins Returns will provide a pleasant viewing experience for families, but it likely won’t be “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”Directed by Rob Marshall. Starring Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Dic. Running time: 130 minutes. Theatrical release December 19, 2018. Updated March 19, 2019
Watch the trailer for Mary Poppins Returns
Mary Poppins Returns
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mary Poppins Returns rated PG? Mary Poppins Returns is rated PG by the MPAA for some mild thematic elements and brief action
Violence: Children argue and tussle over a china bowl, which they drop. A young boy is abducted by cartoon creatures. A chase scene follows and there are scenes of peril as his siblings try to rescue him. The vehicles fall into a void and the children wake up, unsure if the experience was real or a dream. There are moments of peril as men climb a clock tower.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Song lyrics make a coded reference to someone being drunk.
Page last updated March 19, 2019
Mary Poppins Returns Parents' Guide
Mary Poppins arranges to “turn back time” (change the clock) to give Michael more time to reach the bank. Do you think this is honest? The banker’s behavior is clearly unethical. Do two wrongs make a right?
When Mary Poppins takes the kids to visit her cousin Topsy, on an upside-down day, they discover that changing your perspective can change the way you feel about your situation. Have you ever discovered that changing your attitude can change the way you feel about a problem? How do you go about making an attitude change?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
P L Travers wrote four novels featuring Mary Poppins. If your child loves the movie, take a good look at the books. Christianna Brand wrote a classic series of novels about Nurse Matilda, another famous fictional nanny.
In The Adventures of Nanny Piggins, R A Spratt has created a modern classic about three children who are cared for by a pig. These rollicking stories are sure to entertain children looking for fun and adventure with a side order of laughter.
For a twist on nanny stories, your child might enjoy Monster Nanny by Tuutikki Tolonen. This story from Finland is an intriguing mystery involving a monster nanny.
News About "Mary Poppins Returns"
This movie is based on the books of PL Travers. From the Studio: In Disney's "Mary Poppins Returns," an all new sequel with a fresh sensibility that celebrates the spirit of the original, Mary Poppins is back to help the next generation of the Banks family find the joy and wonder missing in their lives. Emily Blunt ("The Girl on the Train," "Into the Woods") stars as the practically-perfect nanny with unique magical skills who can turn any task into an unforgettable, fantastic adventure and Lin-Manuel Miranda ("Hamilton," "Moana") plays her friend Jack, an optimistic street lamplighter who helps bring light-and life-to the streets of London. "Mary Poppins Returns" is directed by Rob Marshall ("Into the Woods," "Chicago"). The screenplay is by David Magee ("Life of Pi") and the screen story is by Magee & Marshall & John DeLuca ("Into the Woods") based upon The Mary Poppins Stories by PL Travers. The producers are Marshall, DeLuca and Marc Platt ("La La Land") with Callum McDougall serving as executive producer and the music is by Marc Shaiman ("Hairspray") with songs by Shaiman and Scott Wittman ("Hairspray"). The film also stars Ben Whishaw ("Spectre") as Michael Banks; Emily Mortimer ("Hugo") as Jane Banks; Julie Walters ("Harry Potter" films) as the Banks' housekeeper Ellen; with Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") as Fidelity Fiduciary Bank's William Weatherall Wilkins; and Meryl Streep ("Florence Foster Jenkins") as Mary's eccentric cousin, Topsy and introduces three new Banks' children played by Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and newcomer Joel Dawson. Angela Lansbury appears as the Balloon Lady, a treasured character from the PL Travers books and Dick Van Dyke is Mr. Dawes Jr., the retired chairman of the bank now run by Firth's character. PL Travers first introduced the world to the no-nonsense nanny in her 1934 children's book "Mary Poppins." However, the subsequent adventures of Mary Poppins remained only on the pages of the seven other PL Travers' books…until now. "Mary Poppins Returns" is drawn from the wealth of material in these additional books. The film takes place in 1930s Depression-era London 24 years after the original film was set. Michael Banks works for the same financial institution that employed his father and still lives at 17 Cherry Tree Lane with his three children, Annabel, John and Georgie and their housekeeper Ellen. Carrying on in her mother's tradition, Jane Banks campaigns for workers' rights and provides a helping hand to Michael's family. When the family suffers a personal loss, Mary Poppins magically re-enters their lives and with Jack's help, brings joy and wonder back into their home.