Guess what my wife Robyn and I did on Sunday, December 30? We took our three grandsons and granddaughter to see the movie, “Mary Poppins Returns.”
Now understanding that anything we get to do with the grandkids is a great time for Mamaw and Papaw, we figured seeing this family-oriented film with the positive reviews would be fun, and it was. But never did I anticipate that the movie would be a life-changing experience for me.
I like movies, but don’t make time to see very many. My favorites tend to be epic productions like “Braveheart” or “Saving Private Ryan.” “Star Wars is OK, though I haven’t seen them all, and I liked the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Most super-hero flicks are fun to see, and I really enjoyed “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther.” The first two Avengers movies were very entertaining, but the last one had so many characters that the story was convoluted to me. I like random films like “Secondhand Lions”, “Top Gun”, “Lion King”, “Marley and Me”, and “The Jerk.”
Frankly, I prefer standalone movies, where you don’t have to assimilate facts from former films to make sense of what’s on the screen now.
Making sequels of hit films must be risky, because it seems nearly impossible to exceed a fan’s reverence for the original. Producers face the law of diminishing return, and often the sequel unsuccessfully flops trying to ride the wave of the first movie.
Sometimes though, the second film uses the first as a springboard to catapult the viewer to an even more rewarding viewing experience. I’m thinking of some classic second movies that were even better than their originals, like “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Godfather Part II” and “Home Alone 2.” (“Home Alone 3” was horrendous – they should have left well enough alone!)
If “Mary Poppins Returns” was “life changing”, am I saying it is as good, or even better, that the iconic “Mary Poppins” original?
Well, personally, I did like it better, but I also understand that it’s been 54 years since “Mary Poppins” first came out, and my perspective may have changed a bit from when I was a nine-year-old watching. You really should see it and decide for yourself.
So, how does my perception of “Mary Poppins Returns” have anything to do with the Good News of Jesus I have the opportunity to proclaim on the Friday religion page of the Wilmington News Journal?
Let me explain that when watching with the grandkids, I noticed a number of song lyrics and script lines that deeply touched me in spirit. Ms. Poppins was not an evangelist, nor is the film intended to advance God’s agenda in any manner, but there definitely are “spiritual” undertones that prevail throughout.
Never is God alluded to, nor scripture or church, but a number of the foundational principles of faith are, with themes like divine destiny, eternal purpose, and limitless possibility, not to mention family values, love, commitment and morality.
I was so captivated by the film, and the lessons it conveyed, that I went to see it a second time, this time with a notepad, pen and micro-light (can you imagine?). In the furthest back row, in the far-right corner seat of the Republic Theatre in Wilmington, I watched the two-hour, 10-minute show with pen in hand, scribbling down quotable quotes I wanted to consider more.
Although the little penlight was very discreet, and the theater only a third full, I wondered if some of the other movie-goers may have noticed this odd, old man, hunkered down in the back corner, scribbling arbitrary notes for the duration of the film, and wondered if senility was settling in.
Well, perhaps it was, but regardless, for the next three Fridays in January I’m going to share some insights about living life with God, gained from my recent forum with Mary Poppins and company.
If you have a Bible or Bible app on your phone, could you look up Mark chapter 10, verse 27?
I want to discuss what Mary Poppins said about that. Yes, this really was quoted in the movie … sort of.
See you next week.
Dave Hinman is Pastoral Elder at Dove Church Wilmington. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .