Chaos Attraction

Mary Poppins Returns

2018-12-28, 9:22 a.m.

So we finally had Christmas at my house. Mom seemed to be okay with most of her gifts, liking the Sally Field book best. She seemed quite “meh” on the knitting loom thing I got her, which makes me think all this “I want to learn to knit” thing is once again bunk. But I figured as much.

I got the following:
Books: Leadership in Turbulent Times, Calypso, Okay, Fine, Whatever.
3 pairs of slippers
A sparkly soft pink-purple scarf made from wood shavings--you would NEVER tell this, it’s amazing.
Star Wars crochet kit, which I started in on immediately
Ball of yarn and fancy needles from Drama Pat*, a yarn bowl from my cousin Linda
Clothes, mostly warm stuff
Fancy wood shavings scarf
Some random things like fancy corn cob holders and a conversation game
Fun stuff from Jackie, including a “Stay Weird” poster, Aggretsuko pins, a patch, a drink warmer, a Christmas tree and lights that I wish I could put up here.

* The note on Drama Pat's gift was "Thanks for coming to my son's funeral," which was several years ago. I'm told that the gift she gave to Mom was to cover "Christmas, birthday, and retirement." Whaaaaaaaaaaat? Drama Pat is in a snit at Mom for having a boyfriend and thus not being there every time she calls.

I have also finished all of the Yummy Crochet foods as requested, so now I am on to Star Wars and finished Yoda!

In the afternoon we went with Mauricio (family friend) to the bookstore (where I got another crochet kit for Disney Princesses, this seems to be a thing with me of late) and then to see Mary Poppins Returns, which I’ll review farther down. After that, we went to dinner and ah, discussed how Mom’s hoarding is actively kinda life hazardous in various ways at this point. I did not say “I threw out a bunch of papers you will not miss yesterday while taking out the trash,” but I wanted to when Mauricio pointed out that I could do that easily. Also because at some point she was all, “where are all my papers to shred?” and I was all “I had to move things around to find a lost bag” and she didn’t think about it. I literally threw as many useless papers, old tickets, old magazines, etc. as I could into the almost-full recycling bin before the recycling pickup came while she was asleep.

She went on about how she really really really wants me to just sit there for her ENTIRE CLOSET(s) and tell her what to get rid of. I said “Yes, we’ve done that before,” and she got a bit snitty because it has never been 100% all done. Uh-huh. I personally said I’d rather she start in on the kitchen so (a) we can have some table space at all and (b) it might help to deal with her ants issue if she had the ability to put some food away, but...noooooo, she wants the clothes. So theoretically that is a thing that might happen tomorrow. But I doubt it. Mauricio has offered to come over and clean on Sundays and just get rid of the useless/expired/broken shit, and Mom was all “but that’s my day with Roger,” and I was all, “great, you leave the house and let M take care of it all, because we could get rid of a lot of shit that you’d never even notice was gone.” So...probably nothing will come of it, as usual. We are also theoretically going to get together with M again tomorrow, but we’ll see on that too since he’s about 50% flaky.

After that as per usual, Mom tried to find a reason to not have to go home and we looked at a few Christmas lights, but she got cranky and so we had to go home early. We drove by a Santa-in-the-outhouse on the way home and I mentioned the existence of caganers and she immediately called Mauricio to see if he’d heard of it--answer: he saw something like that in a museum once, but that is a weird European tradition and he’s South American. At one point he said, “Poop is a very special thing that we do.” Bwahahahah. Oh, and his wife got on the phone to say how much she loved that musical doormat and “That was the best $3 ever!”

And now, on to the Mary Poppins Returns review, should anyone care about spoiling this for any reason.

This is pretty much a rehash of the first one except it’s about 20(?) ish years later, the “Great Slump” is on and the Banks kids are now adults. Michael is a new widower with three kids who are pretty well adult at this point, impressively so. He’s an artist who’s forced to work as a part-time teller at his dad’s old bank and the family house is all that’s left and that seems to be falling apart given the disastrous water issues going on at the start. Jane is a spinster political activist who seems pretty cheerful overall about that, so good for her, at least. Anyway, the movie starts out with Michael being told that the bank is foreclosing on his house in five days if he can’t come up with ALL the money. Two lawyers break the news to him: one cold white guy and one nice black guy who clearly sympathizes with the Banks family (his coworker tells him he’s in the wrong field and I agree). Michael is, of course, broke--but what about that old bank stock Dad had? Could we trade that in for the house? Sure, if you can find proof of that anywhere.

Unfortunately for the Bankses, (a) they go through all the papers in the house and can’t find shit, and (b) when they go to the bank and ask the head of the bank to look at their records, the head of the bank is all “Hm, nope, no records here of that,” and chucks them all into the fire once the siblings leave. Apparently the reason why the bank is doing so well in The Great Slump is that they are foreclosing on homes left and right and fuck employee loyalty in this case. Michael is given until the stroke of midnight of Big Ben to try to save the house, but good luck with that.

You know what would help the family finances? Paying a MAGICAL NANNY with money you don’t have, because Mary Poppins is literally dragged in on the Banks family kite, now in a sad state but young George Banks tries to fly it anyway. Anyway, Mary drops on in and the now adult kids recognize her but have rationalized away the stuff she did back then and Mary of course doesn’t really address any issues with her appearance of still looking young (and uh, different person). Mary of course knows all the Bankses and gives the kids a magical bath.

When the kids break their dead mom’s favorite bowl, she takes them on a magical animated journey within the bowl, which has some fun moments of Mary and Jack the lamplighter* doing a vaudeville act about how “The Cover Is Not The Book.” However, that bleeds into reality when young George stumbles across some evil cartoon characters stealing all the family stuff and ominously swinging a pocket watch like the real life bank villain does. The kids wake up and think it’s all a mutual nightmare, but then the next day they all go to the bank and find out it’s all real. They also visit Mary’s cousin Topsy, a professional fixer whose life turns upside down every second Wednesday for whatever reason--so you might as well enjoy the view. They never do bother to get the bowl back.

* Why is he here? To be Bert Part Two, essentially, and have a crush on Jane, and to be all “Remember the new guy.” I love me some Lin-Manuel Miranda and he is basically why I am consenting to watch this, but it’s not exactly a part with a lot of depth here. I guess it was probably all fun and games after Hamilton for him, though?

You really feel for poor Michael in this one, he’s such a sad sack. Every time he yells at the kids you wince, but you know exactly what he is dealing with and where he is coming from and after awhile you just can’t lie any longer that you’re going to save the house for them.

Anyway, the day is not going to be saved until someone realizes about ten minutes before midnight that (a) Michael apparently DREW ON THE BACK OF THE STOCK CERTIFICATES and (b) George CUT UP THE STOCK CERTIFICATES to patch up the kite.

This is where the move goes into whopping deus ex machina/ridiculousness for me, at least, even though I know Mary Poppins is to some degree all about that ridiculousness.

(a) If I could turn back time (I kept thinking of Cyndi Lauper singing “If I Could Turn Back Time” last night on the Kennedy Center Honors): Hey, Mary, can we turn back time? Oh, sure, why not. No, she doesn’t use any magic--Jack and the other lamplighters climb Big Ben to go and wind the clock back by a few minutes while the Bankses drive to the bank. You might be thinking, as I was, “Hey, shouldn’t we send the magical flying nanny up there to take care of this?” and eventually the movie actually decides to do that.

(b) Let’s go fly a kite: The evil bank manager refuses to let the Bankses in, so they literally fly the kite in his window’s direction until the kite BREAKS INTO THE ROOM.

(c) Remember how the stock certificate has been cut into pieces by George? The nice lawyer is all “oh, we’ll accept the stock as long as you have all of the pieces.” I totally think the evil bank manager would be able to call this on a technicality and say “Nope, you destroyed them, DEAL’S OFF, HOUSE IS MINE.” But no, he doesn’t say shit on this and instead, we just find out that George lost the last piece, so OH WELL, YOU LOSE, FAM.

(Note: Mary just stands around during so many scenes with these lost certificates, I really just wanted her to work some damn magic about any of it: finding it, putting it together, something.)

(d) AND THEN Dick Van Dyke, now playing the former bank manager/new bank manager’s uncle, comes in and is all, “I do not appreciate you telling everyone that I’m potty,” and throws his nephew out of the bank. Then he literally dances down the room and dances on the desk, because Dick Van Dyke is in it to win it and fuck aging, y’all, he’s awesome.

Anyway, DVD says, “Hey, remember that tuppence you put in the bank yonks ago? It made whopping interest and that will pay off your bank loan!” I can’t help but think stuff like “if you work at a bank, maybe that is something you could have found out earlier,” and “seriously, I make like no interest on my account, how the hell much did he MAKE on tuppence for 20 years in the 30’s?” See what I mean about deus ex machina?

Anyway, the Bankses can move back in, everyone goes for a float off balloons, Angela Lansbury hands them out in the “we saved this cameo for Julie Andrews but OH WELL” cameo role, and then Mary bugs off into the sky without so much as a farewell. Fin.

Did I like it? I dunno. I enjoyed the two hours but it is pretty rehashy (here’s the dancing street workers number again, here’s the animated numbers again) in a lot of spots. I haven’t read any MP books but from what I recall of the “Saving Mr. Banks” movie and things I read about that, Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins is much closer in personality (smuggish, a bit of a showboat, less “spoonful of sugar”-y) to the original so I guess P.L. Travers may not be rolling in her grave as much. The songs are okay but not as memorable and one can’t help but wish that LMM had been consulted on the score. So, it’s a pleasant holiday flick, got applause from the smallish audience that saw it with me, but probably not gonna win any awards. Ben Whitslaw probably does the best in it for emotionality (not that one expects Mary or Jack to do that anyway), so in a way he was the MVP in it to me. It’s all right.

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