Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Disney's timeless tale of a British Nanny who helped a father connect with his children, by bringing some much needed magic into their lives.
"Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious ... Yes, well done! You said it!"
Well I am coming into this review from the unique perspective of having seen Mary Poppins for the first time, the day after seeing the 2018 sequel. So comparing the two was definitely what dominated by thoughts while enjoy this classic family musical. While I really enjoyed the updated theatricality of sequel, I would say the original has a much better musical and thematic structure.
“Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way!”
While the songs in the sequel were good, they also felt endlessly packed with lyrics. But in the original it seemed like there were more songs, and most of them were simple and catchy which helped make them get stuck in your head. There is also this level of cohesion present by using small bits of 'Chim Chimney' and 'Step in Time' as a common musical thread throughout the movie. Also I think it is fair to say that 'Mary Poppins Returns' feels like it was trying to be Mary Poppins as hard as possible, while the original felt like it was effortlessly just being itself.
The two movies don't really share the same story, instead the musical set pieces are what act as the common link. For instance:
Spoon full of sugar = The bathtub song
Chim Chimney = London skies
I love to laugh = Topsy's shop
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious = A cover is not the book
Step in time = Trip a little light fantastic
Fly a kite = The balloon song
The sequel gets really bogged down in this conflict about saving the Bank's family house, while the original does not really have a conflict until the very end when the children embarrass Mr. Banks at work. There are two parts where the pacing during the original suffered for me including the feeding the birds part, and Banks' conflict with his bosses. Was it every really established what the Bankers were planning to do to him ... I guess fire him?
“There’s the whole world at your feet. And who gets to see it but the birds, the stars, and the chimney sweeps.”
The greatest strength of the original, is how the music helps drives the themes of the story. For example spoon full of sugar is all about looking on the bright side to help get work done. The laughing song, and fly a kite are all about not taking life so seriously. Toppins seemed to be about stopping to help those who are less fortunate. One song I was not expecting at all, was the fun women's rights tune the mom sings.
But by far Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is the best part for me, and gave me those good movie chills for the entire song. It was interesting to see how big of a role Dick Van Dyke had being the connective tissue throughout the story. His jolly mannerisms are over the top for sure, but strangely genuine at the same time. It was also neat to see that he plays the old banker character in both movies.
Towards the end it was a nice touch to slowly fade Mary Poppins out of the focus of story, as the father and children's bond strengthened, thus accomplishing Mary Poppins' mission. And as simply as she flew into their lives, she flew right back out to the clouds to wait for the next family in need.
Overall I think both Mary Poppins films are excellent companion pieces, but they are similar enough to where I would not recommend seeing them back to back. Now I guess it's about time that I finally check out 'Saving Mr. Banks'.
Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching .... SKOL!