(Editor’s note: This article uses affiliate links. If you click on a link and it takes you to an Amazon page, you may purchase the book or song there. It won’t cost you any more than going directly to Amazon, and it will help our blog prosper. Thank you.) According to Robert Sherman, as recounted in “The Musical World of Walt Disney,” Walt Disney’s favorite song was the ballad “Feed the Birds.” Walt would invite the Sherman Brothers to his office for a scotch and a chat, then he would ask Richard Sherman to play the song that he would later call “the most beautiful song written for me.”
Mary Poppins sings “Feed the Birds” to the children as she puts them to bed, the evening before they are supposed to go with their father to the bank.
The original “Mary Poppins” is a ground-breaking cinematic achievement that is as magical today as it was in 1964. There’s no way a sequel could match it, and if this is the reason some people don’t like “Mary Poppins Returns,” they’re missing out on a story that this world, at this time, desperately needs and will probably fail to hear. “Mary Poppins Returns” isn’t about saving the children or saving the father; it’s about saving ourselves.
“Mary Poppins Returns” is similar to the 1964 “Mary Poppins” that it’s a sequel to. There are songs, hand-drawn animation combined with live action, a bunch of working-class men doing dancing in the most preposterous of ways, a female character fighting for a cause, a weird relation who’s facing an impossible affliction and a father whose situation has caused him to forget all of the things he learned as a child when Mary Poppins was his nanny.
From a time before the film was released, it was clear:
Emily Blunt is no Julie Andrews.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is no Dick Van Dyke.
Meryl Streep is no Ed Wynn, but you might not
recognize her either.
Marc Shaiman is no Sherman Brothers.
I should probably repeat that last statement. There isn’t a
tune that I was humming at the end of the movie. “Mary Poppins” gave us “A Spoonful
of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious,” “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” “Feed
the Birds,” “Step in Time,” and “Chim-Chim-Cheree,” which won the academy
award. “Mary Poppins Returns” gives us…
Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, go see “Mary Poppins Returns.”
It’s grown up a little while keeping most of its innocence intact. (The “Book
by It’s Cover” Sequence is a bawdy vaudeville style song.)