Now, how does this happen? Was I a little genius? No. The songs were just so good that they had sticking power -- especially for a young uncluttered mind. Add to that how magical the movie was, and how could it not impress a little nine year old girl who loved nothing more than to sing?
I went to see "Mary Poppins Returns" with anticipation that the magic would happen all over again. It was a beautiful and magical production and the songs were entertaining and produced very well. I really tried to go out singing "There's No Where to Go But Up" but it implied that we all had really hit a low point. Something was lacking. Sure, you say, I am no longer an innocent child with an uncluttered mind. But even that being the case, I felt a darkness and sadness in the movie that was never really resolved. The story portrayed real loss and had the children needing to grow up and take on adult responsibilities too soon. That was sad and dark and depressing and only amplified by the darkness in the London streets. Michael and Jane were having difficulties as adults. Mary Poppins came to help them in their time of crisis. I get that. But it was still dark and sad. The brightest performance in the whole show was Lin-Manuel Miranda whose energy helped pierce the darkness of the London fog.
It would be very hard to top Julie Andrew's performance as "Mary Poppins" and yet I had hoped that Emily Blunt could rise to the occasion. But there was a sense of worldliness and darkness that put me off in her portrayal. Maybe it was because she had just come off from playing a drug addict in another film. Maybe it was because she had a lower voice quality. Not sure. Julie Andrews brought inner joy, beauty, and just a hint of mischief. And she sang soprano! I loved her beautiful clear voice and wanted to grow up to sing like her.
For me, the songs in "Mary Poppins" were simply constructed and easy to remember but carried such power in what they represented but did not say. "Feed the Birds" has many layers and meanings although the words are simple and few. "Spoon Full of Sugar" encourages work and taking responsibility in a most delightful way -- but never says it. "Let's Go Fly a Kite" is an anthem that puts a family back together.
I think "Mary Poppins" was the last and most enduring gift in Walt Disney's vast legacy. He may have had a tug of war with P.L. Travers about interpretation of her books, but I loved his interpretation. "Mary Poppins" will always occupy a fond place in my heart as a metaphor for how to heal a broken family.