Mary Poppins reminds us there’s “Nowhere to Go But Up”

By Bianca Lancia

Over the relaxing, much needed winter holiday, I visited extended family in sunny San Rafael, California. Ironically, it rained most of the time. Whenever I’m with family, we always end up going to the movies at least once. It’s kind of our thing. What a perfect activity for a wet, gloomy day.

We decided to see “Mary Poppins Returns,” because who doesn’t love a little spoonful of sugar? Am I right? It’s a childhood favorite of mine. I was involved in theatre growing up, and I’ve always had a deep appreciation for musicals, so this was right up my alley.

Pro tip: Don’t see this movie if you aren’t into elaborate costumes or characters that break out into spontaneous song and dance. If that’s the case, we can’t be friends. Just kidding. I’ll forgive you … eventually.    

I hadn’t seen the 1964 version of “Mary Poppins” since at least elementary school, so this was seriously a blast to the past. It made me feel all of the feels. Not only was the Broadway-esque choreography impeccable, but this was the role Emily Blunt was destined to play. She embodied the character of Mary Poppins flawlessly and transported me to a fantastical world filled with talking penguins and horses galore.

This sequel is set during Depression-era London, where Michael (Ben Wishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer) are grown adults. Michael now has children of his own, John, Annabelle and Georgie. Their current lives are in utter chaos, despite the help of their housekeeper, Ellen.

The film zooms in on the imperfections and distresses in their lives. Michael is entrenched in a deep depression of his own, drowning in financial problems and still grieving his late wife who passed years prior. He has failed to pay an important loan on his parents’ house, which they now live in. He has until Friday night to pay it or the bank will repossess their home.

The children can sense the sadness and stress within their father. They too are missing their mother everyday. Unnecessarily burdened with adult worries, they have forgotten what it’s like to be carefree children.

But when Mary Poppins descends from the clouds to pay the Banks family a visit, she shows them that life can be wonderful as long as you make it. She shows the children how to have fun again, using their vivid imaginations and a touch of magic, of course.  

As Mary Poppins is tucking the children in for bed one night, she sings “The Place Where Lost Things Go,” as a way of telling them their mother was never truly gone. She is forever within their hearts and souls, watching from the stars, in the place where lost things go.  

Mary Poppins helps them move on with their lives, knowing their mother is at peace. The film urges us to hold on to those we love, because they could be gone in an instant. I think anyone who’s lost a loved one can resonate with this movie.

She returns joy to the Banks’ otherwise dull and lackluster lives. She teaches Michael how to hold onto the warmth of his childhood, even if it seems far away. She shows him that being an adult doesn’t have to lack the wonder and excitement of being a child. We can all benefit from realizing it’s never too late to be a kid again. In the final scene of the movie, winter has melted into a blossoming spring. The Banks family heads to the park where magical balloons carry them high into the sky, as the song “Nowhere to Go But Up” plays in the background.  It is a timely and comforting message for anyone going through a difficult time. What you’re experiencing is merely temporary and will get better. There’s nowhere to go but up.

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