‘Mary Poppins Returns’ leads this month’s streaming options

By Michael Foust
Correspondent, The Alabama Baptist

Michael Banks is a young widower facing eviction from his London home. That’s bad enough. But with two children to care for he is growing desperate for a solution.  

Perhaps Mary Poppins could bring the family some cheer. After all she played with Banks and his sister when they were children. They loved her. Maybe she could even help him find the money to catch up on his payments.

The 2018 film “Mary Poppins Returns” (PG), now streaming on Netflix, tells the story of Michael and Jane Banks as two adults dealing with grown-up problems — jobs, finances and stress. 

It is a sequel to the 1964 film “Mary Poppins,” which starred Julie Andrews in the lead role of the nanny who dropped from the clouds underneath a magical umbrella to sing and dance with the kids on Cherry Street Lane. Emily Blunt (“A Quiet Place”) plays the newest Mary Poppins. 

The two films have a lot in common. They’re both musicals. They’re both filled with child-like wonder and goofy scenes. And they’re both feel-good films that leave you singing.

No, “Mary Poppins Returns” isn’t as good as its predecessor, but it still has plenty of family-friendly fun (like a room where everyone is upside down) and life lessons (among them: slow down and rediscover the simple pleasures of your younger years).

The word “magic” is never mentioned in “Mary Poppins Returns.” That’s because the film really isn’t about magic. Instead it’s a celebration of childhood, creativity and wonder. It’s an imaginary world of a child come to life. 

It’s rated PG for some mild thematic elements and brief action. It contains minimal violence and no sexuality or coarse language. 

Also streaming this month:     

For adults/teens

  • Apollo 11 (Hulu) — It’s the next-best thing to going back in time and experiencing the first moon landing all over again. This groundbreaking documentary combines never-before-seen footage with voices from 1969 (including that of Walter Cronkite) to create a nostalgic masterpiece. It is rated G, although it contains two coarse words (“h-ll” heard in the John Stewart song “Mother Country,” and a muffled “d–n” by Collins from space when he says he feels “d–n good.”) 
  • Star Trek movies (Amazon Prime) — Good news Trekkies: Five “Star Trek” movies recently began streaming: “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986), “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” (1991), “Star Trek: First Contact” (1996), “Star Trek: Insurrection” (1998) and “Star Trek: Nemesis” (2002). All have violence and some have crude language and sensuality. 

For children

  • “Astro Boy” (Netflix) — A scientist builds a flying robotic boy to replace his deceased son. He’s “Astro Boy” — and he soon becomes a superhero. Rated PG for some action and peril and brief mild language. (Note: the movie has a few potty terms and references to “stupid” and “idiot” but I have never heard any coarse language.)
  • “The Croods” (Netflix) — It’s a family-centric story featuring a caveman family who lose their home — er, cave — in a natural disaster. They then discover a whole new world they didn’t know existed. Rated PG for some scary action.
  • “Dino Dana” Season 3 (Amazon Prime) — A young, budding paleontologist interacts with real (CGI) dinosaurs in her backyard.