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Mary Poppins
3 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Robert Stevenson

Cast:
Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Ed Wynn, Hermione Baddeley, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber

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Mary Poppins (1964)
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Movie Review by Tim
December 6th, 2007

You Only THINK it's a Children's Movie

Although I loved this film upon first seeing it at the theater in '64, it wasn't until I was an adult that I began to appreciate and be amazed by the sophistication of the writing. Sure, the special effects and the music and the visuals are what grab the attention, but the script itself and the lyrics offer just as much brilliance. I would even assert that this isn't a "children's film" at all, but a film aimed at adults under the guise of a kids' film. And that type of subversion is exactly what you'd expect from Mary Poppins. Her method from day one is to use reverse psychology and compliments on anyone she is trying to manipulate--in a good sense, of course. She teaches the children to give money to the poor by suggesting they "feed the birds". She gets them to fall asleep by sweetly singing "Stay Awake". She gets Mr. Banks to take the kids with him to work by acting as if it was his idea, and complimenting him for thinking of it. (A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.)

The film's main character, dramatically speaking, is not Mary, nor the children. It is the father, George Banks. After all, he is the one who makes the film's primary transformation brought about by the presence of Mary Poppins. She is there to show him that his children are more important than money or his job, and once she has completed her task, she moves on. And that is the sort of message that the adults in the audience need to learn, not the children.

As further evidence that this is a film aimed at adults, take a look at these eloquent lines from "Jolly Holiday", when Mary sings to Bert:

"You'd never think of pressing your advantage. Forbearance is the hallmark of your creed. A lady needn't fear when you are near. Your sweet gentility is crystal clear!"

In these days when studios tend to pander to young audiences, desperate not to add anything that might bore them or be over their heads, it's refreshing to see films like "Mary Poppins" -- films that trusted in the integrity of its material and the intelligence of its audience.

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