I wasn't one of those kids who obsessively watched Mary Poppins every day. I saw it as a small child, probably more than once. In fact, I seem to remember loving Mary's red-and-white dress from the animated sequence in the chalk painting and wishing that whenever I went on a carousel the horses would take off on their own for a charming ride through the countryside. But the first actual memory I have of watching Mary Poppins was when I was about 12. My brother and I were sleeping over at my uncles' house, and we joked that the whole film was about a grifter who fed her charges some combination of psychedelic drugs to make them think they were going on magical journeys on the rooftops of London. (We cleverly renamed it Mary Poppin' Pills.) I mean... it's as valid an interpretation as any other I've heard, including this one about how Mary Poppins was Burt's nanny.
But sometime a couple years ago, my husband realized he had never seen it and that was probably an unfortunate omission. After all, it won five out of the 13 Academy Awards for which it was nominated, including Best Actress for the transcendent and flawless Julie Andrews. So we decided, yes, Mary Poppins was a thing that had to happen for us, even if our son wasn't interested. (He was two at the time and wasn't quite in a place where he was ready to sit for a feature-length film.)
Guys. This movie is awesome. It really is. It's not just cool "for a kids movie." It's a straight-up good movie. (This video by Nick Tierce breaks down some great reasons as to why, though I do have some minor quibbles with his assessment of Mrs. Banks.) It didn't win Best Picture (it lost to My Fair Lady, which it should have, because My Fair Lady is an incredible movie, though My Fair Lady definitely should have lost to Dr. Strangelove; 1964 was apparently an awesome year for movies), but it absolutely earned the nomination it received.
Now that my son is four and is really into movies (he hopes Santa brings him more DVDs) and my 17-month-old daughter is super-crazy into musicals (she will dance to any sound that even slightly resembles a tune), I cannot wait to show them Mary Poppins on our next weekly movie night. (That's right, the Kenneys have a weekly family movie night. Because we're adorable.) Here are 8 reasons it will be awesome.
Julie Andrews! Julie Andrews! Julie Andrews!
I mean, it's Julie.
She is practically perfect in every way. For Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music alone the woman should basically be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Song "Sister Sufragette"
Basically the best song ever, right? (And sung by the legendary Glynis Johns.) I could wake up with the lyrics tattooed on my forehead and be like, "I ain't even mad."
It Presents A World In Which The Natural Order Is Magic
Mary presents floating up on ceilings, jumping into sidewalk art, and traveling by umbrella as completely normal: it's the humdrum life of the Banks family before her arrival that's weird and unnatural. Mary's level-headed and practical approach only highlights that the world is, in actuality, full of beauty and wonder, we just need to see it.
Like All Good Children's Entertainment, There's A Darkness To Mary Poppins
The best kids' books and movies rely on darkness, at least along the edges. Harry Potter, anything by Roald Dahl, A Series of Unfortunate Events, anything Pixar has ever made, ever — none of them shy away from the tragic, violent, or macabre. As parents, we have our fair share of worries about our children, because we know how vulnerable they are. Even though, on the surface, kids believe themselves to be invincible, deep down they must have a sense of their own physically and psycho-social fragility, and that part of them connects with the more unpleasant details in children's entertainment. Mary Poppins is, first and foremost, a story about a broken family. Jane and Michael are ignored by their parents and act out as a result. The business world inhabited by George Banks is satirically creepy. The whole thing actually culminates with an old man laughing himself to death. Mary's departure from the family, of course, gives the ending a melancholy if hopeful air. This movie isn't all dancing on chimneys and floating tea parties. The whimsy is often juxtaposed with a rather cruel backdrop.
Dare We Dream It Will Inspire Our Children To Clean Their Rooms?
Mary tells the children "in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun," and that chores can be made into games. Maybe this will trick them. Wouldn't it be great?!
The Penguin Waiters Are Adorable
My kids already dig penguins because of Penguins of Madagascar (which I do not care for). I'm hoping these cute little dancing penguins will sway them away from that and get them on my Mary Poppins loving level.
It Encourages Tea Parties
Who doesn't love tea parties?! It's just good, old-fashioned fun. And I will finally get some use out of that tea set I got for my kids that they just aren't as interested in as I wish they were. (So I guess the answer to "Who doesn't love tea parties?" is "my children." But I'm hoping a viewing of Mary Poppins will change that.)
Dick Van Dyke Is Hot
If you and/or your partner are of the gentlemen-lovin' persuasion, I don't think you can deny the attractiveness of Dick Van Dyke. He just has that "1960s Leading Man Handsomeness." Your kids probably won't notice or care, so this isn't strictly speaking a reason for your kids to see it, but it's a nice little bonus for some moms and dads. Dick Van Dyke can sweep my chimney any day.
Image: Disney; Giphy (8); Tumblr (2)