Take That To The Banks

Judgment has been on my mind lately, just another gift from the irony gods. Like the commencement speaker who seems to have saved all the good stuff for the end of education, I’m learning all sorts of things here as I wrap up.

I’m not wrapping up anytime soon. That came out a little morbid. You know what I mean.

I’m not bending over backwards to be fair. I should. I should make more of an effort, which is what I’m attempting, but it’s just so much more satisfying to judgejudgejudge. Everyone is so open now. I can see all of your faults.

So yeah. That sort of thing. I jump to conclusions, which may be correct or may need some tweaking, but which seems like a bad idea in general.

At the same time, and as I mentioned, it’s so easy these days. I posted on Facebook the other day, surprised by a couple of people I barely knew but tended to interact with, about the subtle (not so subtle, sometimes) hints people leave when they think no one is watching. They make comments on Facebook pages and so on, things they probably never consider as being personal statements but sure sound like it.

And sometimes these statements are expressions of ugly opinions, or ugly to me. People have opinions. These were just personal data points; in a world where I’m constantly overwhelmed by too much information, this flash-card assessment of essentially strangers is helpful. It mostly suggests people I won’t be interested in hanging out with anymore, if you follow. It’s useful information.

But I was really referring to these kind of shadow friends we gather on social media. Friends and family are more complicated, and I’d be more tempted to engage and figure out if I can nail down the differences, rather than just dismissing. I tried to warn off readers that I probably wasn’t talking about them, and that worked out as well as most warnings. Hard not to take things personally, I guess.

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Anyway. I have a judgment about Mary Poppins Returns.

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All three of us watched this yesterday, as it dropped on Netflix this week and none of us had seen it. We knew about it, sort of looked forward to it, sort of let it slide. The original movie played a role in our lives, all three of us, and we had some attachment (if no desire to see it again, really).

I felt a little guilty, then, about my disinterest and actually mild disgust at this movie. I thought it was awful.

I loved the actors, though. No complaints there, although Emily Mortimer seemed an odd choice for the grown-up Jane, somehow. The cameos were fun, if a little confusing (no idea why Angela Lansbury was there, although it was nice to see her).

And the film looked great, very lush and sprawling, with little in the way of obvious CG special effects to pinpoint this as a 21st-century version.

So I’ve been wondering about this reaction, and as I say, feeling a little guilty. Emily Blunt was a perfect successor to Julie Andrews, I thought. The children were very good, and Julie Walters was wonderful as the crusty cook.

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But I watched Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda struggle to rise above pretty risible music and lyrics, and I figured out the problem. The music wasn’t just coming up short compared to the original film score; it was godawful, pedestrian, completely forgettable and really, really bad.

I’m probably overreacting, although Julie had a similar take. It made me feel very ancient, in a way, yearning for some golden age of movie magic for kids (with Toy Story 4 in theaters, this also feels dumb). I’m not. Mary Poppins Returns was an excellent idea, I think, with a great cast. It’s unfair to expect Spoonful of Sugar-like quality. I just wanted some quality.

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Let’s be fair, then. This movie is impossibly entangled with the first one, and comparisons are inevitable. That’s enormous pressure on the creators, particularly the composers. Swing and miss, that’s all. John enjoyed the film, as did many others. Maybe we’re too fussy, or it was just the day, or the moment.

And mostly, it’s not important. No one is trying to muck around with my childhood memories. They’re just trying to make a thing, because that’s what they make. It’s not personal, except for my reaction. Which, again, could have been influenced by other things. Maybe one day I’ll reassess.

I don’t have a problem making snap judgments about this, regardless. I’m definitely out of sync, as Mary Poppins Returns seems pretty successful in terms of critical opinion. We could just be cranks here, Julie and I. It’s OK. I have a limited amount of time for all the ways I can be entertained. This one was a waste of two hours.

I just think it’s useful to watch my behavior in this regard, in general. I thought it was a bad movie. It doesn’t matter at all. I’d just prefer not to look at social media and think that someone is a bad person. I have work to do here.

And I wasn’t talking about you. Stop already.

Chuck SigarsComment