ONE CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY PARENTS in life, for each one brings a different version of love. There are some people who have an abundance of love that they share with children, besides their own. They may not be there when you fall and scrape your knee or when you ride your bicycle for the first time without training wheels; but, they leave their handprints on your heart. I feel fortunate that I grew up with a few extra mothers in my life. You may have had one or two yourself or just as easily an extra dad since either gender provides equal amounts of love. One of my extra mothers was a neighbor who lived in our building. She lived a couple of floors below us which resulted in me learning how to get down flights of stairs earlier than other kids. Before I could walk I would crawl to the edge of the staircase, turn myself around on the edge and begin crawling down backwards. After navigating the two flights of stairs I would crawl to the door of her apartment and pat my palm on it. I never knew how she always heard me when I thought about this years later, but she would open the door every time with a big smile on her face. She always had time to play with me and for those times she didn’t, she would sing to me. THERE WAS ANOTHER WOMAN WHO WAS like an extra mother to me. She was a friend of the family who had grown up with one of my parents. She was quick to give me a deep hug that made me feel protected and safe. Though she did not know how to bowl, she loved coming to the bowling alley, taking pleasure in simply watching us try to get a strike. Her house always had the exact types of food you craved on any particular day; for example, if you wanted something sweet she had cookies or if you wanted something salty she would have pretzels. When I was little she would always write an amusing poem inside my birthday cards. Despite decades having past I still have vivid, fond memories of these women who were prominent in my life. They each had their own families; yet, I was treated as part of the family because that was the type of love they each had inside. And to a child, having that type of extra love is like a fresh coat of paint on the walls of their heart. WITH THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE and jobs scarce during the depression Michael Banks, played by Ben Whishaw (I’m Not Here, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), had little time to watch over his children. Though things looked bleak, there was an opportunity for someone special to step in and help; that someone was Mary Poppins, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place, Into the Woods). This comedic family fantasy also starred Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Looking for Maria Sanchez) as Jack, Emily Mortimer (The Bookshop, Harry Brown) as Jane Banks and Julie Waters (Billy Elliot, Harry Potter franchise) as Ellen. Taking the original movie and moving the characters thirty years forward allowed for a whole new generation of characters to populate this theatrical musical film. I thought the acting was excellent, though Emily’s version of Mary Poppins seemed to have more of an edge to her. This picture was fun to watch but I feel those not into theater may think it is over the top. For me this updated story did not have the magic of the first movie; but part of my warm feelings came from the nostalgic aspect I have towards the original film. Besides, having another encounter with Mary Poppins is always a welcome visit.
As children there usually was one adult figure who provided us a sense of wonder and magic. For me it was an uncle who had a garage full of samples to new, soon to be released toys and gadgets. Anytime my family and I visited my aunt and uncle, he would let me go exploring in his garage. Sometimes he would even let me keep one of the items. For every new school year my uncle always had the best school supplies ready to give to me and my cousins. The magic adult in this warm fuzzy fantasy was certainly Caractacus Potts, played by Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins, The Dick Van Dyke Show-TV). Caractacus was a struggling inventor of little means. But what he had in abundance was a good heart and love for his two children. When there was an opportunity for Caractacus to buy the old automobile the kids loved playing on, he found a way to get the money and purchased the car for them. Of course being an inventor, he had something in mind to make the jalopy extra special. Working diligently, Caractacus turned the comatose vehicle into a magical car. It was christened Chitty Chitty Bang Bang due to the sounds that came out of the engine. But when news of a flying car made its way to the kingdom of Vulgaria (great name!), the dictator Baron Bomburst was determined to use whatever means to get his hands on the special vehicle. This was a wonderful movie from a different era. So what if some of the songs were a little goofy or mushy; I have to say it was refreshing to witness that sense of wonder and excitement again. There was a simple innocence throughout the movie. It goes without saying, Dick Van Dyke was incredible in this role; getting an additional boost from Sally Ann Howes (Dead of Night, Brigadoon) as the character Truly Scrumptious and Lionel Jeffries (Camelot, Cream in My Coffee) as Grandpa Potts. A great film where you get to unplug from the present world, sit back and let a smile spread across your face.
3 stars — DVD