Mary Poppins Returns

Get you sh*t together, Michael

In Mary Poppins Returns we re-encounter the Banks children, now grown, the year Michael’s wife passed away leaving him as a single parent of three children. Clearly Michael never read the mental load comic, and is about to lose the family’s house because he forgot to make loan payments and can’t find any financial documents.  Mary Poppins shows up to help by having magical adventures with the children that include them cutting up the documents Michael needed and pissing off the bank manager. Eventually the day is saved by ***** spoiler ****** a bank account Micheal apparently didn’t remember he had. Once they return to their home, Mary Poppins flies off to whence she came, leaving the children in their father’s obviously capable hands…

Mary Poppins Returns aims to have a lot for fans of the original. It achieves that, but frankly not much else. Many of the characters return, Jane takes her mother’s place as an activist, there’s a lot of goings on with a kite. The songs obviously intend to parallel those in the original, one involving a magical cartoon land, another taking place on an eccentric relative’s ceiling, and so on. Unlike in the original film, none of these songs are memorable. In fact nothing in the film is particularly memorable.

It’s entertaining for young kids, and fun for anyone who is really into Mary Poppins. I’d definitely watch the original before going if you or your kids haven’t seen it. My kids love the original, and they enjoyed it, so it was worth going as an afternoon activity but neither my husband nor I found it very entertaining.

Content Warnings

There is also a lot of talk about the mother’s death and about losing the house to the bank. Sensitive kids are likely to have issues with this, particularly ones prone to worry. There is, however, a sweet song about how their mother is always with them, which could be helpful if your family is dealing with a loss.

Discussion Topics

The mental load: The Banks aren’t about to lose their house because they don’t have enough money; they are about to lose their house because Michael’s wife died and he had no idea how to run a household, including when to pay what bills and how to access their assets. He continues to be a bumbling idiot throughout, requiring the help of his far more capable sister and, of course, Mary Poppins. Check out the comic linked above for more on the mental load.  Ask your kids whether they think the Banks’ apparent division of responsibilities was fair or smart. What could they have done differently?

Death: There is a lovely song in the movie about how loved ones who die are not really gone because a piece of them is always with us. This movie is a great opportunity to discuss what your family believes about death.

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