From the Dec 24, 2004 New York Times:
Poppins on the Loose: Lock Up Your Children
By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN
Mary Poppins, in memory, is the ideal nanny. With her cartoony eyelashes, slightly Carnaby style and jauntily splayed feet, she delivers that polemic about sugar, turns chores into pleasure and wins infatuated devotion from her charges. The mother is not threatened by her, the father is not attracted to her and – all in all – the Poppins stint with the Banks family is the most edifying nanny story in a genre that is currently characterized by tales of anxiety and woe.
That’s at least how I remember Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” which had its premiere in 1964 and went on to win five Academy Awards. The reality is somewhat different. If it’s been awhile, see for yourself on the Disney Channel, which will televise the remastered version in convenient time for the movie’s 40th anniversary, the release of the DVD and a new musical that opened earlier this month in London.
In this trippy, effects-heavy, pro-pollution movie – soot is a source of great amusement – the nanny does indeed represent a blessing for Mr. and Mrs. Banks, but not because she’s good at her work (you even get the feeling it’s not a career with her), but because she whisks the kids out of their hair and then manipulates the parents into changing their ways.
She spends no time giving the kids lessons or overseeing their homework. After first cleaning their room, they do almost no chores, and even the room-cleaning is done mostly by magic. Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) is rather like the nannies on “Nanny 911” and “Supernanny” in that she doesn’t patiently care for children year in and year out; rather, she bosses around an entire family according to modish philosophies of child rearing and then, with a flourish, she’s gone.
The movie is set in 1910, in part among chimney sweeps and the bankers in high, hard collars, but the 60’s come through in just about every scene. If those who most exemplified that decade were the activists and the sybarites, this movie is clearly on the side of the sybarites – the hippies.Continue reading