December 5, 2023
Mary Poppins Returns

As a 48-year-old man about to marry into a family with a 10-year-old girl, I have realized quickly just how little Disney I’ve ever watched.

I totally get what Mary Poppins was all about, and I loved her magic bag and its goodies, or at least the concept of it. I call my fiance’s bag a “Mary Poppins bag.” But I speak as a practicing admirer. If you’ve ever seen me pack my backpack, you’ll quickly learn that I take that stuff seriously. Always prepared.

However, I have never seen the 1964 movie with Julie Andrews.

I’ve never seen a lot of movies, and (squirrel) the Starbucks at which I’m typing this and sipping a caramel macchiato has George Strait’s “Fool Hearted Memory” playing on the sound system, and I can’t begin to tell you how awesome that is. What a fantastic 1980s country song.

Anyway, Kristi and I went with young O to see “Mary Poppins Returns” on Christmas Day. I knew Emily Mortimer was in the movie, and I know her from “The Newsroom,” an Aaron Sorkin TV show that I adore from a few years back. I’m not that big a fan of hers because, like many actors, I feel like she’s mostly playing the role of “Emily Mortimer.”

And I saw that the “Hamilton” guy was in the movie. Yes, I’m talking about Lin-Manuel Miranda. He plays Jack, who serves as a bicycle-riding narrator of our little story. I presume there was a similar character in the 1964 version of this movie.

Forgive me; I’m a newbie to all-things-Poppins.

He and Emily Blunt, who very capably played the title character, appeared on screen before the movie to welcome audiences to it, a nice touch.

While I’m not a cynic by nature, I was quite cynical about Miranda’s appearance in the movie, thinking it was more about his clout inside the industry as a guy who turned a Broadway show into a national phenomenon as opposed to on-screen talent.

Boy, was I wrong. Holy moly was I ever. I suspect the man is a national treasure, and most of us in America haven’t recognized it yet. Sure, the Broadway elite have, but Miranda reminds me of Tom Hanks and John Ritter, two of the most likable on-screen actors of the past 50 years.

My cynicism was turned into Lin-Manuel Miranda evangelism quickly enough.

And, even Emily Mortimer won me over enough to make me forget she’s actually MacKenzie McHale.

But I had no doubt for a moment that Emily Blunt wasn’t born to be Mary Poppins. She was fantastic, and I came away convinced that, in this political climate, Mary Poppins should just run for president.

Because that woman gets things done.

Thoroughly enjoyed it. 4 out of 5 stars.

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