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The books

  • Base-Breaking Character: Mary Poppins's strict and pompous behavior has won over some readers, who feel thankful that her personality doesn't taste like diabetes, and turned away others, who find her unreasonably heartless.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In Mary Poppins Comes Back, Mary Poppins promises the Banks children, "I'll stay until the chain breaks" (referring to the chain attached to her locket). Eighty-two years later, Mary Poppins would receive an unexpected, but unforgettable homage in a space opera with an ad campaign and climax accompanied by a Fleetwood Mac songnote  bearing the line, "I can still hear you saying you would never break the chain"...
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    • Arthur Turvy's misfortunes began when he was born to a woman who wanted a daughter, instead of a son. The writers of Disney's second Mary Poppins movie, Mary Poppins Returns, essentially gave him a Gender Flip, by combining him with Topsy.
    • In the first book, a penguin writing a birthday song for Mary Poppins decides against rhyming her first name with "Contrary", since It's Been Done by "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary". Mary Poppins Returns resorts to that rhyme in "Turning Turtle".
  • Older Than They Think: "Mary Poppins is a Time Lord" theories based entirely on the Disney movies would disregard book-only instances of her actually saving the day though time travel.
  • Sequelitis: The books seem to get less creative as the series progresses, at least to some readers.
  • Values Dissonance: The oldest books have some racial slurs and stereotypes. In particular, the "Bad Tuesday" chapter of the first book involves a whirlwind round-the-world journey via a magic compass, features stereotypes of Eskimo, Chinese, Native American, and tropical "Negroes" that are grotesque even before a misbehaving Michael earns their wrath all at once.note  There's a reason Disney left this episode out of the movie. Later editions have a revised version in which native animals of the four regions take the place of the humans, but that has its own unfortunate implications for those who know the original (not to mention all of the other books' slurs and stereotypes remain intact).
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Disney's movie and play

  • Adaptation Displacement: How many of you can actually say that you saw the movie with prior knowledge that it came from a book?
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • There are those who think Mary Poppins is an irresponsible, dangerous, abusive drunk. She supernaturally "blows" the competition away for the job, then takes her charges to play with a homeless man. After giving them cough medicine. That tastes like rum to her. The cough medicine was probably Laudanum (tincture of Opium with alcohol) which was often given to children to keep them quiet, and was often sweetened with sugar to help the medicine go down. So she's getting them high too.
    • Some people think she gives off a cold and dismissive feeling and would not actually be very successful with real children, like she was in the movie.
    • Given how dismissive she is of everyone she meets, except when they fall about praising her, Mary Poppins is some kind of high-functioning narcissist. And yet, Pamela Travers (the author of the books) thought the Mary Poppins of the film was too nice. Fans of the books often agree with her.
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    • Time Lady of Gallifrey. Seriously, she pulls a six-foot lamp out of her bag, right there in the film.
      • Who itself plays with this via the villainess Missy, introduced in Series 8 of the revival (in 2014, coincidentally the 50th anniversary of the film) and a central character in the Twelfth Doctor's Myth Arc. She has a similar appearance and even mannerisms — her key prop is an umbrella that she uses to float down into a graveyard at one point — but is a deranged murderess who, as Big Bad of Series 8, creates a false afterlife for humanity as a way to create an army of Cybermen. In the Expanded Universe story "Teddy Sparkles Must Die!" (The Missy Chronicles), she even takes on a Magical Nanny role to several kids — with the unwilling help of a kidnapped, wish-granting teddy bear-esque alien — as part of her latest sinister plot. The punchline? Teddy Sparkles ends up rewriting reality to make her the inspiration for Mary Poppins (Writing Around Trademarks is at play), which means that people familiar with the character don't take her threats seriously, sincerely believing she's good at heart despite her claims to be Card Carrying Evil!
    • Some people insist that Bert is actually a Crazy Homeless Person. On the opposite end, people are split if Bert is totally mundane if charming, or if he's of the same breed of magical that Mary is (albeit in a much lesser capacity). The musical seems to support the latter. It can also be argued that he is the true hero of the story, helping the children to understand the difficulty of their father's life while reminding Mr. Banks that childhood is fleeting and he should spend time with Jane and Michael before it is too late.
    • At the end of the movie, Winifred Banks makes a "Votes For Women" sash into a tail for the kite. Some viewers believe this means she'll give up the suffragette movement to spend more time around the house, while others interpret this action as her supporting the cause while spending more time with her family. Richard Sherman supports the former explanation in the DVD Commentary, but nothing else in the film itself suggests that Winifred had turned sour on the movement.
  • Awesome Music: Often held as the greatest collection of songs the Sherman brothers ever wrote.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Among people who've both seen the movie and read the books, opinions seem split over whether the movie's less conceited and condescending portrayal of Mary Poppins seems too sweet or easier to warm up to than her literary incarnation.
  • Broken Base: Dick Van Dyke's bad Cockney accent either ruins the film or makes it more memorable.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: It is impossible to read the books and not hear the cast of the film version as the characters.
  • Ear Worm: Practically every song.
    • Chim chiminey chim chiminey chim chim cheree, a sweep is as lucky as lucky can be! Chim chiminey chim chiminey chim chim cheroo...
    • Just...A... Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, the medicine go dow-own, the medicine go down! Just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down, in the most de-liiiiiiiight-fullllll waaaaaaaay!
    • Feed the birds, tuppence a bag. Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag! Feed the birds, that's what she cries, while overhead her birds fill the skies! Famously, this song was a favorite of Walt Disney. Whenever he visited the Sherman brothers, and they him, he would say "play it". They would already know he meant "Feed the Birds" and play it for him. Even at his funeral.
    • Let's! Go! Fly a kite! Up! To! The highest height! Let's! Go! Fly a kite, and send! It! Soaring!
    • Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious. If you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious....
    • I love to laugh! Loud and long and clear! I love to laugh! It's getting worse every year...
    • Step in time! Step in time! Step in time! Step in time! Never need a reason, never need a rhyme! Step in time! You step in time!
    • Heck, even Mr. Banks's song, "The Life I Lead", is catchy!
    • Interestingly, the first song of the movie, "Sister Suffragette", is one that practically no one seems to remember.
    • From the musical: I'm Practically Perfect in every way. Practically Perfect, that's my forte. Uncanny nannies are hard to find. Unique yet meek, unspeakably kind.
    • Also from the musical: Anything can happen if you let it. Life is out there waiting, so go and get it. Grab it by the collar, seize it by the scruff. Once you've started living life, you just can't get enough.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Miss Andrew, the anti-Poppins, seems to be this in the stage version. In the film version, Mrs. Banks is extremely beloved by fans.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Mary Poppins could be an angel or even some kind of goddess, given her "perfection" and the fact that she comes from the sky. Also, note the religious overtones of "Feed the Birds."
  • Fanon:
    • A lot of fans like to think that Mary Poppins only says "practically perfect in every way" because part of the perfection is humility - so Mary can't claim to be 100% perfect.
    • Until Mary Poppins Returns debunked it, a lot of fans fell in love with the theory that the Bird Lady dies toward the end of the film, particularly after Doug Walker's Disneycember review mentioned the same theory. If you really think about it, there don't seem to be any birds (or people, for that matter) in the town square when Mr. Banks makes this discovery, so maybe the Bird Lady just went home for the night. But fortunately, the most salient moral of the film (namely, to show kindness to others while you still have the chance) is present in both readings.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Ellen's suggestion to check the river for Mr. Banks's corpse, the morning after he loses his job, might feel harder to watch for viewers who learned that P.L. Travers' mother attempted to drown herselfnote , traumatizing the writer when she was seven year old.
    • Bert warns Mr. Banks that one day his kids will grow up and be too old to accept his sincere love. In Mary Poppins Returns, owning to Author Existence Failure, George and Winifred have passed by the time Michael is a grown single father with children of his own.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke disagreed on the radio talk show Hollywood Spotlight Microphone over the possibility of Mary Poppins getting a Broadway adaptation. Van Dyke strongly supported the possibility, while Andrews felt that it wouldn't work, as the film's effects seemed hard to recreate on-stage. Both have seen the stage production at least 40 years later.
    • When the children first see Mary Poppins arrive, Michael thinks she's a witch, and Jane says that she's not because witches have brooms. Seven years later, Disney released a Spiritual Successor to this film with a witch who rides a broomstick as an Expy of Mary.
  • Memetic Badass: Mr. Dawes Sr. became this among Italian Youtube Poopers, it all started with this (title roughly translates in 'Old Man Dawes will kick your ass!').
  • Memetic Mutation: Through the joy of Manipulative Editing, this trailer makes Mary Poppins look like a horror movie.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Though there exist a handful of Brits don't care for this "Americanized" version of English culture, especially Dick Van Dyke's accent, it was and remains hugely popular in England by those who do, especially for Dick Van Dyke's accent.
  • Narm Charm: Dick Van Dyke's accent. Dick Van Dyke's accent was the result of his trying, and failing, repeatedly, to do a good Cockney accent. When it turned out he could only do a bad Cockney accent, he decided to make it hilariously bad. But it's part of what makes his character charming, hence Lin-Manuel Miranda giving his character Jack (Burt's Spiritual Successor) a similar exaggerated accent in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The animated singing lambs that appear during "Jolly Holliday" for being Ridiculously Cute Critters.
  • Signature Scene: The twenty-minute long animated sequence is probably the most famous part of the film. Ironically, P.L. Travers hated that scene and ordered Walt Disney to remove it after the film's premiere.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Every higher-resolution Remaster, London looks more and more like a lot of paintings.
    • Many of the whimsical elements such as Mary and the children cleaning the room during "A Spoonful of Sugar" and Uncle Elbert floating during "I Love to Laugh" are clearly done via blue screen.
    • The robin Mary Poppins holds looks unbelievably fake.
    • As pointed out in this video, during the animated segments, Julie Andrews' eye direction never properly matches up with those of the animated characters, which makes it look fake and unconvincing compared to the later Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The WHOLE animated sequence, but particularly "Jolly Holiday" and the scene with the barn animal choir.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: The play fell victim to this after "Temper, Temper" disappeared in favor of the Lighter and Softer "Playing The Game".
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Invoked with Mr. Banks, whose views are seen as backwards.
    • Winifred mentions the Sufragettes engaging in acts that, while not violent, would probably be seen as hideously disruptive, especially given violent protests in The New '10s.
    • With all the talk about climate change and pollution, it would seem to be quite weird to see Bert proud at the London Skyline.
    • Admiral Boom uses the then-contemporary term "Hottentots" for the Khoi peoples of Namibia, which has since become a racial slur.
    • In one verse of "It's a Jolly Holiday", Mary Poppins appears to praise Bert for being a perfect gentleman—because he's not likely to get inappropriately intimate with her. Needless to say, attitudes about consent were very different in 1964 than they are today. Nowadays, most people would consider that to be a mark of basic decency, and not the sort of thing that would warrant praising a person in song.
    "You'd never think of pressing your advantage,
    Forbearance is the hallmark of your creed,
    A lady needn't fear when you are near,
    Your sweet gentility is crystal clear!"
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: A retroactive example, as the makeup used to make Dick Van Dyke's character look like an old man ended up being accurate to how he looks when he's actually an old man in Mary Poppins Returns.
  • Wangst: Really, Uncle Albert, feeling upset about your guests having to leave soon is one thing, but having a crying fit about it is another thing altogether. Then again, it's not like he's entirely right in the head.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Didactic?: Some critics and academics have argued that the film encapsulates the societal shift of its time, with Mr. Banks representing the passing of the stuffy 1950s and Mary Poppins representing the arrival of the carefree 1960s. Thomas Schumacher has stated that the contrast between generations is represented in the stage musical by the character's outfits. George Banks, Miss Andrew, and most of the adults represent the older uptight Victorian era while Mary Poppins, Bert, Mrs. Corry, Northbrook, and a few others represent the much looser Edwardian era.

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