Movie Review: Mary Poppins

by Lisa Oppenheimer
Average rating of 4.5/5. (6 Ratings)
My rating
  • I love it!
  • I like it a lot!
  • I like it.
  • Just okay.
  • Not for me.
mary poppins

  • Rated G for general audiences. (Bonus material not rated or subtitled)
  • Recommended for all ages.
  • Run Time: 139 minutes

'Poppins' Is One Classy -- And Classic -- Nanny

Dick Van Dyke called making it like duck soup. Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks) called it "so bloody cool."

The rest of us? Happy to go along for the ride. As spectators, we may only be able to experience Mary Poppins from this side of the screen. But, it's fair to say that we're having every bit as grand a time.

The 1964 movie about the magical nanny who literally floats into the Banks household and livens things up, ranks as practically perfect on almost any family movie list. It's the cornerstone of make-believe. We spend our childhoods trying to create imaginary worlds from cardboard boxes and blankets, and Walt Disney came along and made it all come to life. As charges of the quixotic governess Poppins, Jane and Michael got to jump into pictures, have tea parties on the ceiling, climb a stairway made of smoke. Lucky kids! And parents? Mary's a pleasant little reminder that while we may always have to be adults, we don't always need to act like grownups.

Stunning sets and special effects galore made the movie more than just a hit -- it was groundbreaking. Even the actors knew how lucky they were. "For a kid to be suspended up in the air?" Dotrice once said about her famous tea party scene. "That was fantastic!"

Maybe that -- the actors' shared thrill -- was part of the infectiousness. Or the turn-of-the-century gas-lit London that looked like it was plucked from our imaginations. Or maybe it's that delightful Sherman Brothers songbook ("Spoonful of Sugar," "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Supercalifragilistic"). Or maybe it's just the perfect storm of story, costumes, actors, and special effects that together translate into that oft-used term, "movie magic."

Whatever it is, it works. Near the end of the movie, Bert looks into the Banks' fireplace and observes wistfully that the chimney is "A doorway to a place of enchantment."

Ditto for the movie.

Kids Will Like:

Everything! Even 40 years later and competing with today's high-tech wizardry, Mary Poppins will have kids' eyes popping at every turn, whether it's Mary's magical carpetbag, the adventure in the animated chalk drawing or the tea party on the ceiling. Plus, it's every kid's wish to do what the Banks children do: slide down the banister, clean up their rooms in a snap, and even venture up the chimney. It's the kind of movie you'll wish you could see for the first time ... again.

Parents Will Like

Mary Poppins is that rare movie that entertains the whole family without a single objectionable aspect (though, Dick Van Dyke's attempts at a Cockney accent will at least make you smile). My personal favorite is the song, "Perfect Nanny."

Head's Up:

Not a blessed thing. Two-hours-plus goes by in a snap.

Own It?

Definitely! Widely considered one of the best movies ever, it's one you'll want to watch over and over.


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