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Three Open Doors: A Review of Mary Poppins Returns

February 11, 2019

“Three Open Doors” is a tool for helping families use the media resources which are already streaming through their daily lives.  “Three Open Doors” is an invitation to refreshing conversations and a bridge between the messages on our screens and the truths of biblical scripture.


“Mary Poppins Returns” – Released in December 2018 – Rated PG – Still showing in a small number of theaters – set for DVD/Blu-ray and streaming release in March 2019


Writer P.L Travers created the fictional character of Mary Poppins for a book published in 1934.  Thirty years later, Walt Disney coaxed the hesitant author for the rights to bring her story to the silver screen.  First depicted by Julie Andrews, the sequel finds Emily Blunt playing the iconic nanny, who arrives by umbrella, to rescue the Banks children.  Brandishing both magical moments and meaningful messages, she sees two generations of the family Banks through the grief and anxiety of loss.  This extension of the story of Mary Poppins contains the usual Disney entertainment mix of song, animation and light-hearted fantasy but, unlike the original, it also dives deep to consider the stressors that can threaten a family’s peace of mind.


Door 1:  “Can You Imagine That?” –an invitation to be a child

Mary Poppins seems to have dual purposes when she arrives in the Banks household, helping both the adults and the children. She finds a family still reeling from both the loss of a wife/mother and the pending eviction notice on the front door of their home. Mary sees that the grief and depression of father, Michael Banks, has trickled down to his children; threatening to rob them of some of the enchantment of childhood.


Anabel Banks: “But we don't need a nanny.”

John Banks: “We have grown up a good deal in the past year.”

Mary Poppins: “Well, we'll have to see what can be done about that.”


Door-opening questions:

  • What are some “adult-sized” problems that Mr. Banks is dealing with?  What are some other adult-sized problems a family can go through?  Should parents shield their children during a crisis or share the crisis with their children? (Parents, take an opportunity to share some of the adult-size stresses of your own childhood and describe the ups and downs of how your family coped.)

  • “Can You Imagine That?” is a song that celebrates facing life’s problems with a healthy dose of whimsy and an active imagination.  How does using your imagination help you through your day? 

  • A line of the song says “Perhaps we’ve learnt, when day is done, some stuff and nonsense could be fun!”  Do we have enough fun in our family?  How could we use our imaginations more?  What are some new ways we could have fun to help us relieve stress?


Scriptural Truth: 

The first quality of God we learn about in the Bible is His ability to create!  Every living thing you see around you is something He imagined into being!  The cool truth is He has passed this ability on to His children who are created in His image.  Writers, composers, artists, chefs and scientists imagine and then produce books, songs, paintings, recipes and solutions.  Using our imaginations isn’t a waste of time, it’s an activity that inspires us to partner with God to bless this world with creativity.  Maybe it is even what Jesus meant when He pointed to children as examples of open, humble, unhindered faith. (Mark 10:14-15)


Door 2: “The Place Where Lost Things Go” -an invitation to have hope

Mary Poppins teaches this song of Anabel, John and Georgie to help them as they are missing their mother.  By the end of the movie, the children share its truths with their father and its hopeful message breaks through his grief and despair.


“Memories you've shed

Gone for good you feared

They're all around you still

Though they've disappeared

Nothing's really left

Or lost without a trace

Nothing's gone forever

Only out of place”


Door-opening questions:

  • What can we do when we miss each other?  Who is someone you miss because they’ve died?  What can we do when we miss them?

  • What do you think heaven is like?  What are some of the descriptions we have about heaven in the Bible?  (recommended reading:  Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn)


Scriptural Truth:

I Thessalonians 4:13-18 is an incredible hope-filled declaration concerning those who have died knowing Christ and how we will experience an eternal reuniting with them some day.  More importantly we will be with Christ in heaven.  So, even though we miss those we’ve lost we don’t have to be devastated beyond recovery.  Those who don’t know these heavenly promises can often find themselves very lost after the death of a loved one. 


Door 3:  “Trip A Little Light Fantastic” –an invitation to give hope

Jack (Lin Manuel Miranda) is a lamplighter, a family friend of the Banks’ and a side-kick to Mary Poppins throughout the film.  When Mary and the children find themselves disoriented in the evening fog of London, Jack and his fellow “leeries” share a musical reminder of what we should do when life has us feeling lost.


“So when life is getting scary, be your own luminary

Who can shine the light for all the world to see

As you trip a little light fantastic with me


A leerie loves the edge of night

Though dim to him the world looks bright

He's got the gift of second sight

To trip a little light fantastic

A leerie's job is to light the way

To tame the night and make it day

We mimic the moon, yes that's our aim

For we're the keepers of the flame”


Door-Opening Questions:

  • Do you remember a time when you were very lost in a public place?  What emotions did you experience?

  • How do people end up feeling lost in their own lives?  What did Jesus say and do to help the lost people he encountered?

  • Is there anything we can do as a family to “tame the night and make it day” for our friends, family and neighborhood?


Scriptural Truth: 

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus reminded us of our role as “the light of the world”.  We should be as excited about this calling as the leeries of London are about their jobs!  I Peter 2:9-10 tells us we are a royal priesthood who experience our own journey from darkness into light.  We can share that journey and that difference with others.


 **Parents are urged to review of all media before introducing it to their children.  In order to exercise your personal discretion, we recommend using the “Parents Guide” provided by IMBd.com or visiting pluggedin.com a ministry of Focus on the Family.

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