Australian Council on Children and the Media

Mary Poppins Returns

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Short takes

Parental guidance recommended for children under 8 (some scary scenes).

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Mary Poppins Returns
  • a review of Mary Poppins Returns completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 7 January 2019.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 6 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes.
Children aged 6-7 Some parental guidance might be required.
Children over the age of 8 Suitable for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Mary Poppins Returns
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: A scene of very mild peril.
Length 130 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Mary Poppins Returns is a sequel to the original Mary Poppins movie, based on the books by P.J. Travers and set in London in the 1930’s. Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) and his sister Jane (Emily Mortimer) are now adults and Michael has three young children, Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathaniel Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson). Sadly, Michael’s wife died the previous year and he is struggling to bring up the children and maintain the house and finances on his own. The bank is about to foreclose on his house as he has fallen behind in his loan repayments. It is at this auspicious moment that Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) arrives, flying in on her umbrella, to take over the care of the children.

The children are at first reluctant to have Mary Poppins as their nanny, but it isn’t long before she wins them over with her magic and charm. Along with Jack the candle lighter (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Mary Poppins and the children have many wonderful, magical adventures. Mary Poppins is always there when needed and in her own magical way turns events around.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Loss of a parent; financial hardship; magic and fantasy.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • The children have a fight over a precious porcelain bowl, left to them by their mother. They squabble, and the bowl ends up breaking.
  • Doing a dance, Jack whacks a cartoon penguin with his walking stick; kicks another penguin and hooks a penguin with his stick and tosses it away.
  • A wicked wolf (cartoon) steals Georgie’s toy (a giraffe his mother had made for him) and lures him away with it. He captures Georgie and locks him in a cage attached to a carriage. He then takes off with Georgie and John and Anabel chase after them.
  • Anabel hits a wicked badger (cartoon) with a cricket bat and he falls out of a carriage.
  • All the children fall out of the carriage and go over ‘the edge of the bowl’.
  • Michael Banks gets very angry with his children and gives them a good telling off.
  • A banker hits out at two men who try to remove him from his office.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A lot of the scenes of London are grey and foggy. This makes London look quite scary.
  • The admiral who lives next door regularly fires his cannons, which makes the Banks’s house shake and a lot of the furniture gets knocked around.
  • The cartoon wolf is an evil looking creature with large, staring eyes.
  • Mary Poppins takes the children to visit her cousin Topsy who lives in a very strange house. It turns upside down and the children are all standing on their heads.

 

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Michael is very sad when he looks through his wife’s belongings in the attic.
  • Georgie gets dragged along by a kite in the wind and nearly takes off into the air but is saved in time.
  • The children have a bath in which they all go down the plughole in a whirl to enter a fantasy undersea environment.
  • The scene in the Royal Doulton Ball where Georgie gets taken by the wolf is quite scary and intense, as the children have to fight off the creatures to save Georgie. It turns out to be a dream (or nightmare) and Georgie is quite upset when he wakes up from it. He also says how much he misses his mother.
  • The children and Mary Poppins get lost in the fog.
  • After Michael gets angry with the children he starts to cry and says he doesn’t know what to do.
  • Jack dangerously climbs up Big Ben. He steps out onto a ladder and nearly falls off.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing of concern.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing of concern.

Product placement

  • None of concern.

Sexual references

  • None of concern.

Nudity and sexual activity

  • None of concern.

Use of substances

  • None of concern.

Coarse language

There is some infrequent coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bloody
  • Blasted
  • Blimey

In a nutshell

Mary Poppins Returns is a Disney family movie that older children and adults can enjoy. There are some dark moments and much sadness, which might affect younger children. Mary Poppins’ positive outlook on life is very uplifting, however, as is the music and dancing.

The main messages from this movie are that much can be gained from imaginative play and to never forget your inner child.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Magic and fun
  • Importance of family
  • Resourcefulness
  • The power of positivity

 

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Why was the banker so mean and greedy? Did he get what he deserved?

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