I didn't think you could get better than Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in "Mary Poppins," one of my favorite movies, right along with "The Sound of Music" with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.
Turns out, you can't.
Don't take that as my bad review for "Mary Poppins Returns" with Emily Blunt in the title role.
But I'm not sure I can endorse the movie, either, just on principle.
When I first heard that they were "remaking" the classic "Mary Poppins," I was irritated -- outraged even. How dare anyone try to re-do a movie that's practically perfect in every way? Does Hollywood have no original ideas anymore?
Actually, I'm not sure the film industry does have many new thoughts left. So many movies -- even classics -- have now had "modern" versions ... "Yours, Mine and Ours," "The Muppets" (that's a classic in my book), "The Parent Trap," "A Star is Born," "Total Recall," "King Kong," "Arthur" ... I could go on and on.
And the sequels ... oy vey ... the sequels. What are we on Tom Cruise's "Mission: Impossible" movie set now -- number 126? (I do, however, freely admit to going to see all of them in the theater.) Apparently the really impossible mission is coming up with new plots for movies.
But I digress.
I initially vowed I would never see "Mary Poppins Returns." Then a family friend, super excited to see it, planned an outing for us to do just that. One of my sisters said she and her family watched it and she deemed it almost worthy of the original, suggesting I think of it more as a stand-alone film than a "sequel" of sorts.
So, after all my grousing, I went in optimistic.
And I wasn't disappointed.
Although I found Blunt's Poppins seemed just a tad arrogant -- whereas Andrews came across as slyly confident (a fine line, I know) -- I can't find much fault with the film or its cast, in particular as a movie standing on its own two sensible high heels.
The plot is fine, the music is good, and the dancing a delight to watch. I didn't know ahead of time about the "big star" cameos, except for Van Dyke's. I was tickled to see Meryl Streep and Angela Lansbury in colorful little roles.
Actually, the entire film was bright and mostly cheery and just fun. Had I never seen the original, I'd have been quite satisfied with the new one on its own. Yet there were references to the first peppered into the second, and that kind of made me feel like I was in on a bit of a secret and had a little sort of kinship with the new version.
Afterward, thinking I could compare the two, I found it almost impossible to do so. They're a lot alike but a lot different. I'd have to conclude I'll be considering them fully separate next year when "Mary Poppins Comes Back A Third Time" comes out.
So I have to recommend "Mary Poppins Returns," despite my strong dislike for Hollywood re-making movies. It's fun for children and the young at heart, too.
But since two of my favorite movies of all time star Julie Andrews, I of course had to find out what she thinks. After all, she won an Oscar for her "Mary Poppins" role (and was nominated for one in "The Sound of Music" and, by the way, also for the vastly, completely different but hilarious "Victor Victoria").
I wrote the above before checking on Andrews' view of the new film, and she told TV personality Peter Travers kind of what I was thinking about the two "Mary Poppins" takes.
"Disney had so many of the Mary Poppins books in their stockpile, in the basement, in the vault. So they thought, 'Why don't we also do a second musical using all of that material?'" Andrews said on ABC's "Popcorn With Peter Travers," as reported by CBS News. "It's not a re-creation of the original film. It's a brand new film."
Now 81, Andrews expressed faith in Blunt during her interview with Travers.
"I think she'll be practically perfect," Andrews said, as CBS News reported.
She's more kind than I am as far as the prospect of a re-make of "The Sound of Music."
CBS reported: "It's not so bad if they do," Andrews said. "'Sound of Music' was iconic, and I'm thrilled it stood up to the test of time, but it was something like 50 years ago. So I think it's about time somebody had a crack at it again."
Ah, I beg to differ. If someone remakes "The Sound of Music," you might hear the sound of a scream of anger from somewhere in Coles County.
Why can't we just leave some things alone?
It reminds me of overeating. If you eat one piece of chocolate cake and it's really, really good, just stop there. You might enjoy a second piece at first, but you'll end up miserable and wondering why you didn't quit while you were ahead.
Enjoy a good movie, then leave it alone. No sequels. No re-makes. Just leave it be.
We as Americans, and Hollywood in particular, just seem to get ahold of something good and want to milk it dry.
I guess, on one hand, since I keep going to see the "Mission: Impossible" installments, the moviemakers are right -- people will keep coming back, and they'll keep making money.
But leave the classics alone, at least! Some things just can't be replicated, let alone improved upon. We just have to enjoy them and then let go.
But memories...we always have those.
I can't forget the amazing way Van Dyke danced and sang as Bert in the original "Mary Poppins." That man is a delight -- a national treasure -- and a native of Danville, Illinois, in case you didn't know.
If you haven't seen it, look up Van Dyke dancing in the video for "Never Had To Go" by Dustbowl Revival. It's such a catchy song and such fun from the now-90-something entertainer.
As kids, my sisters and I watched "The Sound of Music" so many times that I lost track. When we were younger, we always missed the wedding scene and all that came after it because it was our bedtime. But eventually we got to enjoy the full film. And yes, I have a copy of it in my DVD collection now, too.
The music ... the dancing ... the romance ... the drama ... that movie just has it all. My plea is that Hollywood never remakes this one-of-a-kind classic.
I mean, I hate to disagree with Andrews, but then again, no one -- even Mary Poppins -- is perfect.
Even I and my taste in movies have some flaws. But I'm not too high and mighty that I can't admit when I might have been almost sort of wrong.
Go see "Mary Poppins Returns" and judge for yourself. You might find it trips a little light fantastic.
I'll be home with my empty spoon and sugar bowl, perhaps finding I'm just like Hollywood -- I can't get enough of a good thing.