Let's talk about Disney's 'Mary Poppins' reboot, because we have feelings
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-what. Continuing their trend of live-action reboots, Disney is doing something a little bit different for their next film. You might say that the winds have changed. Instead of turning a cartoon into a reality, Disney has decided to revamp one of its classics — if not THE classic Disney movie — Mary Poppins.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Disney is in the middle of developing “a new original live-action musical film featuring the beloved magical nanny.” Set to be directed by Rob Marshall (from Disney’s live-action Into The Woods musical) the story will pick up 20 years after the events of the first movie, and will be loosely based on the existing stories of Mary Poppins, written by author P.L. Travers, and “explore Mary’s further adventures with the Banks family and beyond.”
On one hand, this sound awesome, because who doesn’t want another spoonful of sugar? On the other hand, we’ve got something that is already perfect in every way, so why mess with that?
The Mary Poppins we know and love today premiered in 1964 and stars the downright delightful Dame Julie Andrews as the titular Mary, alongside Dick Van Dyke, who will forever be a singing-and-dancing dreamboat. Andrews won an Oscar for her role. Composers Richard and Robert Sherman also won Oscars for Best Original Score, along with Best Original Song for “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” In all, Mary Poppins took home five Oscars, after being nominated for thirteen. For perspective, no other Disney movie has ever been nominated for that many Academy Awards before.
A lot of the magic surrounding Mary Poppins also had to do with the fact that when it premiered, it was a film unlike anything seen before. The movie seamlessly combined live-action and animation, set to a period backdrop — don’t forget Mrs. Banks is a suffragette in 1910, London! The special effects! The singing and dancing! The costumes! This was cutting edge Disney at the time, and it still boggles the mind to see animated characters in live-action musical numbers.
For any big Disney history buff, Mary Poppins holds extra special importance, too. It was one of the last live-action movies Walt Disney himself had a hand in, and Walt was known for being super critical of all his movies. But, with Mary Poppins, he really did think it was perfect. Walt’s favorite song was from Mary Poppins, too. After long days at the studio — and we saw the difficult making-of Mary Poppins in Saving Mr. Banks — Walt used to ask the Sherman Brothers to play “Feed The Birds” for him.
All this is to say, while it’s a cool idea to revive the story of Mary Poppins, this is NOT a story to be taken lightly. This movie is a classic and messing with the formula, especially when it comes to new-fangled technology, could take away from the magic the original so perfectly captured.
There’s something to be said about the simplicity of the OG film, and how it still holds up today. Back in 1964, there was no CGI, so when we see Mary flying, she’s really flying via MAGIC (and, OK, maybe some wires and pulleys). Old-school film tricks like that are unheard of today. And there’s no such thing as as a simple movie-musical anymore, even if there are dancing penguins involved. Movies today need to be layered with deeper meanings and insane fight scenes; no one is looking to see a movie where some kids fly a kite and everyone learns the importance of laughter.
But maybe that’s why we need a Mary Poppins reboot—to remind us of the simple, beautiful things in life we so often forget.
There’s no timetable for when the movie will go into production and start shooting, and considering that Disney’s already got a huge, full slate of upcoming live-action movies ahead, it could be a while. But it’s coming. As soon as those winds change again, Mary is going to arrive on our doorstep. We best be ready for her.
(Images via Disney and Giphy)