A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Intended to entertain rather than educate, but the film teaches the importance of kindness and understanding, and a father tries to teach children about finance and investing in a bank -- though this will go over most younger kids' heads.
Empathy and gratitude are important character strengths, as is kindness to all people, whether rich or poor. Play, fun, and hard work all have great value. Never judge things by their appearance. Children are important and should be treated with respect and understanding. The fight for women's right to vote is expressed as important, though it's portrayed as a fun adventure rather than something serious.
Positive Role Models
Mary Poppins is mysterious, firm, kind, and caring. She's the very picture of an independent woman -- particularly given the 1910 setting. She demonstrates compassion, communication skills, and integrity. Even without her magical ways, she's a great nanny, though she can sometimes be vain and enjoys others' comments about her appearance. Mr. Banks begins as an aloof father who prioritizes work above all else, but he sees the error of his ways and engages with his wife and children in the end. Bert is kind, creative, and caring. He also shows great wisdom in understanding others, though he can be childish at times. Both children can be naughty, but they understand the impact of their actions and show kindness and concern toward others.
Mary Poppins is a strong and resourceful woman, who stands up to Mr. Banks. Main characters are all White. Racism shown by a minor character, who uses the term "Hottentots" twice, referring to the Khoekhoen, an Indigenous population of South Africa. He asks a young boy whether he's off to "fight the Hottentots" and later fires a cannon at chimney sweeps whose faces are black with soot, mistaking them for Khoekoe and calling them "cheeky devils." Another story refers to American colonists dressed as "Red Indians." The central family is of an upper class standing, and the father refers to staff and servants, saying he treats them well. But Bert, a working-class chimney sweep, is portrayed as creative, entrepreneurial, kind, and gentlemanly. While traditional gender roles are followed within the Banks household, with Mr. Banks going out to work and referring to himself as "the master" among female cooks and maids, his wife occasionally questions him and marches for women's liberation (though it's portrayed as a fun adventure, rather than something serious).
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Violence & Scariness
One of the neighbors pretends to be in battle and fires cannons from his rooftop -- it's loud and jolting, but no one gets hurt. Animated characters hit themselves and others with cymbals, and there's rough and tumble between animated animals. Passing concern that a character has attempted to take their life by throwing themself into a river and that children have been attacked by lions at a zoo. A group of people is blown away into the sky by the wind. Children run off on their own; in one scene, they're descended upon by looming bankers, police, shadowy characters, and a barking dog. Children jump between soaring rooftops. Mention of death when an older man dies laughing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kiss on lips between a married couple. Flirting and hand-holding between Bert and Mary Poppins. An animated penguin bashfully kisses Mary on the cheek.
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Infrequent language includes "ruddy," children referred to as "wretched" and "beasts," and an animated character refers to others with the Irish word "omadhauns," which means fools or idiots. A White English character refers to American colonists dressed as "Red Indians" and another mistakes chimney sweeps with faces blackened with soot for the Khoekhoen, an Indigenous population of South Africa, calling them "Hottentots."
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Products & Purchases
Off-screen tie-in merchandise.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Father drinks sherry and mentions smoking a pipe. Minor characters smoke cigars and cigarettes. Both the children and Mary Poppins take medicine, with the nanny saying hers tastes of rum punch.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Mary Poppins is a classic 1964 musical based on a series of children's books by P. L. Travers about a nanny with supernatural powers. Though the pace is rollicking and sometimes chaotic, only a handful of moments may scare younger children. Death is mentioned, and there's a passing reference to a character potentially taking their own life. The father of the family (David Tomlinson) drinks sherry but isn't drunk; minor characters smoke cigars and cigarettes. The film touches on women's liberation, though it's shown as a fun adventure rather than something serious. A minor character makes racist references to "Hottentots" -- referring to the Khoekhoen, an Indigenous population. Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) is a strong role model, showing communication skills, compassion, and integrity. Melodic music, fancy dancing, and cartoon segments will engage even the youngest viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Rarely does a movie manage to be so much fun while delivering a simple, heartwarming story. While songs in today's Disney's musicals, though sometimes good, typically serve to explain the characters' emotions or intentions, the best songs in Mary Poppins use the feelings of the characters as starting points from which to take off and explore, often in wildly whimsical directions, complete with fun, energetic dance numbers. The story follows suit, using small plot events to take viewers to many unexpected places, where magical experiences and important messages await. The end result is one of the all-time great family movies.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.