When I was a kid, Mary Poppins was one of the “Christmas Break Movie” teachers played during that last week of school before the holidays. In fact, it was always the “Christmas Break Movie”. Six years in a row. I grew to hate Mary Poppins.
Enough time, therapy, and alcohol have passed to give Mary Poppins a fresh start. It’s obviously a classic. Even without the childhood torture, I’m sure I would still know the lyrics to “A Spoonful of Sugar” or “Chim Chim Cheree.” I’m a little surprised Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious isn’t in Autocorrect. Though I did get that right on my first try. So thank you elementary education.
As a movie from 1964, how does it work as a movie for today’s children? In our sample size of one, it still holds up well, if a little long, for today’s kiddos. The music is still catchy and the mix of animation and live action still looks magical.
As an adult in today’s world, there’s some obvious cultural rough spots. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Mary Poppins has come under the microscope for the chimney sweep scene. It isn’t really necessary to debate the blackface controversy as that scene starts with the black man in a dark alley trope and ends with the crew being mistaken for hottentots, a racist term for African tribesmen.
As a parent, I treat Mary Poppins much like other movies from the era. Most of the troublesome issues fly over the head of our daughter who can still enjoy the magic and music. So long as we, the parents remain aware of the issues, we can hope that our children won’t have to relearn those lessons in loving others that we had to.