mary poppins VS mary poppins returns

I had to.  Watching ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ gave me the itch to re-watch ‘Mary Poppins’ and, well, here I am.

The Story


MP: Mary Poppins comes to London in 1910 to put the Banks family to rights.

MPR: Mary Poppins comes to London in 1935 to put the Banks family to rights.

The Nanny


MP: What more can be said about Julie Andrews?  She is truly, like Mary Poppins herself, ‘practically perfect in every way’.  And the fact that ‘Mary Poppins’ was her first film role is even more impressive.  She brings a sweetness and charm to the character of Mary Poppins that wasn’t in the book.  So, points off for inaccuracy to the book, but points on for what really is a marvelous performance. (And there is a lot of Book Mary Poppins in Julie Andrews’ portrayal.)

MPR: I think everyone was a wee bit skeptical that anyone could step into Julie Andrews’ shoes.  But you know what?  Emily Blunt didn’t even try.  She went back to the books, she conferred with Rob Marshall (and her own fabulous acting instincts) and played Mary Poppins close to the book and close to everyone’s hearts.  There were so many moments through ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ when I was almost crying because “YES.  That’s my Mary Poppins!”

The Other Characters


MP: Everyone is so memorable in this film.  The Banks family, Bert, Admiral Boom (why does every name start with a ‘B’?), Ellen, Cook, Uncle Albert…it’s truly delightful.  Re-watching ‘Mary Poppins’ was like coming back to very old, very dear friends.  Mrs. Banks is an interesting mixture of defiance and decorum, Jane and Michael are The Best Child Actors, and even though I don’t particularly care for Bert, he adds a unique flavor to the film that I couldn’t do without.

MPR: Thank goodness the actors for John, Annabel, and Georgie weren’t awful.  That would have probably (mostly) ruined the movie.  But they were darling.  Michael and Jane are sweethearts, Colin Firth’s character (name?) is a pretty good villain…and then there’s Jack.  I like that they didn’t give him a romance with Mary Poppins (like she had with Bert, kind of) because I believe she’s ‘above’ romance in a way?  I mean, she’s basically immortal and Not Of This World.  But the little sparks between Jack and Jane made me so happy.

The Awful British Accent


MP: This is more a gag category, but…Dick van Dyke’s accent is truly awful.  And it slips up quite a bit, especially when he’s singing.  Definitely not a fan. 😛

MPR: And then there’s Lin.  You can tell he’s faking it, but it’s not as over the top/grating.  So that’s nice.

The Songs


MP: The Sherman brothers outdid themselves with the songs for ‘Mary Poppins’.  It was their first time writing allll the songs for a big Disney musical and they knocked it out of the park.  Pretty much every song in ‘Mary Poppins’ has entered common usage – stuff like “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” and “chim chim cher-ee” – and the songs themselves are so catchy you can’t help but love them.  And then, of course, there’s ‘Feed the Birds’, which was one of Walt Disney’s favorite song and which always makes me tear up.

MPR: The songs that I heard from ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ before watching the movie didn’t thrill me. (Except for ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’, which I saw a clip of and was promptly blown away.)  But after seeing them in their proper context and getting the story/emotions behind them…I love almost every one.  ‘The Place Where the Lost Things Go’ is actually more meaningful to me than ‘Feed the Birds’ and I love, love, love ‘A Cover is Not the Book’ (#bookworm).  My little brother’s favorite song is ‘A Conversation’, which I think is a little weird.  But I just go with it.

(Incidentally, HUGE shout-out to Marc Shaiman for creating an Overture that sounds like it came straight from 60’s Disney musical.)

The Adventures


MP: ‘Jolly Holiday’ and ‘I Love to Laugh’ are entwined with two unforgettable Mary Poppins adventures.  Personally, I think that the whole chalk drawing sequence drags on for too long but the song is catchy and the visuals are nice, so I don’t mind it too much.  The tea party on the ceiling (sounds like something out of Wonderland) makes me grin…because everyone else (except Mary Poppins) is laughing so much.

MPR: I really don’t care for the bath adventure or the Cousin Topsy adventure.  They just don’t do anything for me.  What I do like, however, is the whole Royal Doulton sequence.  I think it’s really cool how they’re ‘in China’ (lol) and all the risks that has with it.  And both songs in that sequence are lots of fun and very energetic. (Plus, it adds to the plot because Certain Events help the children to see through Colin Firth’s character later on.)

The Emotional Pull

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Just leaving this screenshot here because no collage I make would be more perfect.

MP: This is going to sound a bit weird, but most of the parts I find emotional in ‘Mary Poppins’ are because of ‘Saving Mr. Banks’.  That movie made me love ‘Mary Poppins’.  It’s kind of hard to admit that I didn’t like it before that, but I watched it so many times as a child that I was sick of it. (Until ‘Saving’.)  That being said, I dare you not to tear up at ‘Feed the Birds’ or ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ (which was the one part I always unequivocally loved).

MPR: *deep breaths* THIS MOVIE.  The nostalgia made me cry, the extremely poignant subplot of Michael grieving for Kate made me cry, ‘Lost Things’ made me cry…I was a mess by the end of the film.  Though there were definitely parts that made me laugh and there were a lot of happy tears (far less than sad tears).  ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ hit a chord inside me.  It’s a part of my heart now and I love that.

The Ending


MP: Mr. Banks MENDS THE KITE.  And starts singing and dancing with his children!  And everyone is so happy and joyful and, uh, kite-flying-y.  ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ is one of the most triumphant, awesome Disney songs ever and it provides the perfect capstone to the story.

MPR: I can see what they were trying to do.  They were trying to capture the wonder and excitement of the first film’s ending.  Having Angela Lansbury there, having everyone floating in the air, Jack following Jane…it was all super sweet.  But I think ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ is the better song and a better scene, overall.

(LOVE how Michael’s like “I’ll start feeding the birds and go fly a kite” because yasssss.)



So, what’s my favorite Mary Poppins film?


‘Saving Mr. Banks’. 


That really is the truest answer I can give you because I can’t choose between ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ (and I like ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ better than both).  They’re each quite perfect in their own way.  So please don’t ask me to choose.

However…do you have a favorite of the two? (Or three, if we’re including ‘Saving Mr. Banks’?)



movie review: mary poppins returns

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Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.


Going into ‘Mary Poppins Returns’, I was hopeful but leery (pun not intended, I promise – I only caught that when I was proofreading this post).  The critics weren’t kind to this movie.  They labeled it dull, joyless, boring, and an unworthy successor to the original film.  Even the more positive reviews did little more than bestow faint, somewhat withering praise on the film.

But I had to see for myself.

And, well, I LOVED IT.

Everyone was perfectly cast.  I was pretty excited to see Lin as Jack (it blows my mind that little kids will grow up with Lin the way I grew up with Dick Van Dyke) but it was Emily Blunt that really blew me away.  She’s not imitating Julie Andrews.  She is playing a character – the character.  Mary Poppins herself.  I was on the fence about her performance for about two sec-  Forget that.  I was never on the fence.  From the moment she sailed out of the sky holding onto the kite she was my Mary Poppins.

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Ben Whishaw was another delightful surprise.  He’s rather adorable but he also brought such emotional depth to Michael.  Left me in tears several times.  Jane was AWESOME (following in her mom’s footsteps by fighting for people’s rights).  I ship her and Jack so hard.  And the three children – Annabel, John, and Georgie – were delightful and worthy successors to (of? for?) Jane and Michael.

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Seeing Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury, and Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks’s actress from the original movie) was a delight – especially Dick Van Dyke.  I never even really liked him as Bert (the accent!  the horror!) but, man, the nostalgia was real.  Plus, it’s super impressive that he’s in his nineties and still singing and dancing and acting.

And let’s talk about the nostalgia.  It was real.  Very real.  From Karen Dotrice’s character saying “Many thanks, sincerely” to THAT STORY ABOUT MICHAEL’S TUPPENCE I CAN’T EVEN (many tears, you guys) to the kite and “We are still not a codfish”…ahhhhh.  Loved it.  And all the instrumental versions of the original songs on the soundtrack.  I think they hit every song from ‘Mary Poppins’ and it was definitely ‘Feed the Birds’ that I loved the best.

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And speaking of songs…I thought they were perfect.  ‘A Cover is Not the Book’, ‘Trip a Little Light Fantastic’, and ‘The Place Where the Lost Things Go’ were my favorites but I loved almost all of them.  Except ‘Turning Turtle’.  That whole scene weirded me out.  I didn’t LOVE the songs the first time I watched the movie but they’ve been running through my head since the second viewing.  Which has to mean they’re pretty great.

If I were writing the screenplay I would have cut out the bath sequence entirely.  I would also have cut out ‘Turning Turtle’ and have had Cousin Topsy come along into the Royal Doulton bowl when they took it to her (and that’s when the bowl would have opened up for the children and Jack and Mary Poppins).  I just didn’t like the bathtub scene or ‘Turning Turtle’ – they didn’t add much to the story, in my opinion – and I would have liked the movie better if they’d been cut.

But besides all that, ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ is a fantastic movie.  There were so many delightful, quotable lines.  So many memorable scenes.  So much joy.

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Though it was also very emotional.  I came into the movie with all the emotional baggage of losing a parent and watching ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ (NOT the same level of emotional wounds, but ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ does do things to my heart) so there were several parts that made me cry.  But everything ends in a wonderfully, blissfully happy way so it was all good.

Have you seen ‘Mary Poppins Returns’?  What do you think of it?


mini movie reviews {#10}

Incredibles 2 (2018) – Entertaining.  The animation was gorgeous to look at (even though this movie is more about the action than the aesthetics) and it was fun seeing all the characters again.  And the villain was pretty cool.  But it definitely wasn’t as perfect as the first movie. (What is?)

Ella Enchanted (2004) – Horrid, horrid, horrid.  The book is a gift, the movie is a curse.

Casino Royale (2006) – Okay, so it was very confusing and somewhat boring.  But Daniel Craig is very good-looking and the femme fatale was intriguing.  So the movie wasn’t a total loss.

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Hidalgo (2004) – An incredible western-that-is-not-a-western.  I can’t recommend it highly enough to fans of westerns, horses, exciting races, and ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.  Based on a true story of a guy who entered his mustang in a famous Arabian race, ‘Hidalgo’ has everything: romance, a great soundtrack, action, and an epic character arc.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) – Literally Hidalgo 2.0 – but worse?  It was an okay movie and there were definitely parts I liked, but it was pretty meh overall.

The Theory of Everything (2014) – Started out strong, but got a little boring and pedantic.  Still, a powerful, moving story.  As a Christian, I obviously have problems with Stephen Hawking’s worldview, but I can still respect the tremendous struggles and triumphs of his life.  Eddie Redmayne was fantastic in the role. (And Felicity Jones is one of my top five favorite actresses, so yeah.)

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The Terminator (1984) – LOVED IT.  I had my reservations at first, but it was so, so good.  Action-packed, emotional, thoughtful, chilling, romantic…gahhh. (Apparently James Cameron has a thing for tragic romances.)

No Country for Old Men (2007) – When I showed this to some of my siblings, we were pretty evenly split in our opinions of this movie.  My oldest brother and I think it’s a fascinating cinematic tour de force.  And then another brother and sister thought it was a total waste of their time.  What do you think?

The Nun’s Story (1959) – Utterly fascinating.  I watched it for Audrey Hepburn but the story, characters, and sneak peek into the inner workings of a convent captured my interest fully.  ‘The Nun’s Story’ is almost three hours long, but that time flew past.

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Jaws (1975) – Yep.  I finally watched it.  I still much prefer ‘Jurassic Park’ though.

Good Will Hunting (1997) – *deep breath*  YOU GUYS.  I get it now.  I totally get why Robin Williams was – and is – a national treasure.  I CAN’T EVEN.  He…he did such a good job.  Totally grabbed my emotions and held them. (Also, young Matt Damon is super cute and I think it’s really cool that he and Ben Affleck wrote the screenplay.)

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So, what movies have you watched lately?  Anything good?


five reasons ‘The Princess Diaries’ is my go-to feel-good film

Yesterday was a hard day for me.  Without going into all the details, it involved some tears, a headache, and a day spent sitting around the house.  I watched ‘The Princess Diaries’ for about the tenth time amid all the depressingness and, as always, it cheered me up.  So I decided to write a blog post to figure out why. (You’d be surprised how many of these ‘five reasons’ posts I begin to write without actually knowing the reasons.)

The story is a timeless classic.

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Classic Cinderella, that is.  Social outcast transforms into a graceful princess.  Of course, the road that parallels the transformation is full of goofs and mishaps and hilarity, but that only adds to the fun.  Because you know where the story is going to go (especially in rewatches, duh) you can sit back and soak it in.  I always think of TPD as a ‘comfort food’ kind of movie, a movie that’s like a familiar pair of slippers – and that’s mainly to do with the warmth and gentleness of the story.

Julie Andrews is magical.

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I literally shrieked (with delight! with delight!) when the Queen says, in PD2, “I’ve done a lot of flying in my day”.  Because how is that not perfect?  Anyway, getting back to the first movie…I know Julie’s Andrews’ Queen Clarisse is different from book Queen Clarisse but come on!  It’s Julie Andrews.  She can do whatever she wants with the character.  She makes every movie a million times better – including TPD.

It’s so inspirational.

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Who’d really want to see a film where Mia instantly accepts being a princess and flies straight to Genovia?  No one, that’s who.  Watching Mia become the person she’s meant to be gives us all a little boost of confidence.  There have been times in all of our lives where, like Mia, we’ve wanted to run away from our responsibilities.  I can’t get over how inspiring the last ten or fifteen minutes of TPD is.  From Mia deciding not to escape, to Joe rescuing her, to the speech, to the foot-popping kiss…ahhhhh.

Romance!  Romance everywhere!

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I’m still mad that the writers of PD2 brushed Michael off in the opening lines of the film.  He and Mia were suuuuch a great couple because, you know, he saw her when she was invisible.  They go through some ups and downs, but he still showed up at the ball for her.  LOVE IT.  Sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned happily ever after.

(Also, Clarisse and Joe.  It’s true love.)

There’s just something about it…

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I really can’t explain the draw ‘The Princess Diaries’ has for me.  But if I’m feeling sick or down, I’ll watch it.  Every time. (Well, this or 1994’s ‘Little Women’.)  Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews are one of Disney’s most memorable duos.  The soundtrack gives me all the happy feels. (Actually, everything about this movie does that.  But the soundtrack is very special.)  And at the end of the day…no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. -Joe (but also -Eleanor Roosevelt)

Have you ever seen ‘The Princess Diaries’?  Is it one of your favorite films?


P.S. Joe should have gotten his own paragraph.  Because he’s actually the best.

P.P.S. Lily is awful and I hate her.

P.P.P.S. I should have mentioned the humor, too, because it’s golden.

coco VS. the book of life

There’s quite a few people who say that Pixar ripped off Sony when they made ‘Coco’ a few years after ‘The Book of Life’.  I think that’s nonsense and I’m doing this comparison post partly because I want to…and partly to prove all the haters wrong.  There are a few similarities.  Both films are set during Mexico’s Day of the Dead.  Both feature protagonists who want to pursue music (guitar, specifically) instead of following their families’ profession.  And in each film the villain meets his untimely end via a gigantic bell (though in ‘The Book of Life’, it’s more the bomb than the bell). (Oh, there’s also the thing about Imelda and Monolo’s mom have similar hair…?) 

But other than that, they’re pretty different movies.

// The Plot //


Coco: A young guitarist named Miguel is transported to the Land of the Dead when he strums a famous guitar.  In order to re-enter the land of the living, Miguel must receive a blessing from one of his dead family members but complicated stuff happens and he must go on an epic journey with a guy named Héctor…and I’m not going to say anything else because the plot is too good to spoil.

The Book of Life: A young guitarist named Monolo fights with his best friend for the affections of the women they both love.  There’s also a wager and a poisonous snake and a weird Candlemaker and not a whole lot of emotional depth.  Oh, and bullfighting.  The plot makes sense, I guess, but it’s kind of shallow.

// The Main Character //


Coco: Okay, so the first I watched ‘Coco’, I wasn’t completely sold on Miguel.  Like, he was okay and all but he just seemed kind of bland as main characters go. (Sorta like Riley in ‘Inside Out’.)  But on the re-watch I liked him a lot better.  He does a lot of growing up (“Nothing is more important than family”) and his love of music is super endearing because I share it.

The Book of Life: MONOLO IS VOICED BY DIEGO LUNA.  Your argument is invalid.  That awesome fact aside, Monolo is a pretty good hero.  Especially with what he does for Joaquin near the end.  And he’s really sweet and a great singer and, yes, I quite like him.

// The Other Characters //


Coco: Most of the other characters in ‘Coco’ are Miguel’s family – living and dead.  And they’re all so great.  Héctor is obviously my favorite character but I also love Imelda.  She’s one of those strong female characters that is actually strong – not annoying.  She held her family together after her husband abandoned her; she has so much of my respect.  And then there’s Coco herself.  I love her sweetness. ❤

The Book of Life: My favorite secondary characters in ‘The Book of Life’ are María, La Muerte, and Joaquin.  But at the same time, they aren’t as memorable as the side characters in ‘Coco’.  Joaquin does tug on my heartstrings a little because he wants to live up to his dad’s memory but he can’t without that stupid medal.  But overall, ‘Coco’s’ secondary characters are much more unique and interesting.

// The Villain //


Coco: Ernesto is one of Pixar’s most despicable villains (and that’s saying something).  He poisons his best friend, he lies and cheats his way to the top of Mexico’s cultural scene, and even in death his scheming, thieving, murderous ways aren’t checked.  Words probably couldn’t describe how much I loathe Ernesto.

The Book of Life: Chakal, the bandit king, is technically the villain but he doesn’t feel very villainous.  Most of the movie’s conflict comes from antagonists in Manolo’s life – whether people or circumstances (like dying).  ‘The Book of Life’ doesn’t really have a villain you can hate.

// The Music //


Coco: *ALL THE HEART EYES*  I listened to the soundtrack on repeat for weeks and I still love it.  ‘Un Poco Loco’ is definitely my favorite song but they’re all really good.  And Michael Giacchino’s score is beautiful, melancholy, humorous, and exciting in turn.  I liked the soundtrack so much I actually bought a hard copy – something I almost never do.

The Book of Life: Okay, so I don’t remember the score for ‘The Book of Life’.  But I adore ‘I Love You Too Much’ (Diego Luna’s singing voice is lovely) and ‘The Apology Song’ is pretty good as well.

// Emotional Grip //


Coco: I cry so hard and so much watching ‘Coco’.  Once you know the whole story, pretty much everything about it can move you emotionally – from Ernesto’s flashy rendition of ‘Remember Me’ near the beginning to Héctor explaining how memories work to any scene with Coco.  The film is utterly heartbreaking at times, utterly inspiring and triumphant at others.

The Book of Life: Eh…I wasn’t really moved by ‘The Book of Life’.  And that’s about all I can say.

// Ending //


Coco: WAAAAAH.  ‘Proud Corazón’ (the song that plays over the ending) KILLS ME.  There’s so much joy and love and pride in it that I CAN’T EVEN.  I literally don’t even know how to describe all the emotions it pulls out of me.  It’s so wonderful seeing the whole family together at last.

The Book of Life: A good ending.  Manolo’s almost-sacrifice is moving and I do like the duet between him and María.

// Overall //


I don’t think there’s much of a competition here.  ‘The Book of Life’ is an entertaining movie that I enjoy watching every now and then.  But ‘Coco’ is a true Pixar masterpiece (arguably Pixar’s best film) that resonates with me on every single level: characters, storyline, music, visuals (which I didn’t talk about, but both films have AWESOME visuals), and emotions.  I do recommend watching both films, though – see which one you prefer!

Have you seen either of these movies?  Which is your favorite?


defending the Narnia film trilogy

I haven’t read all the Narnia books.  I’ve only read halfway through Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  I do admit that the Narnia film trilogy has battle scenes that drag on for far too long (especially in ‘Prince Caspian’).

But all three films are still amazing, you guys.  They come in for a lot of criticism because they aren’t like the books.  Because they tweak C.S. Lewis’s vision.  Because they’re too ‘mainstream’.  But I happen to love them and I’m going to tell y’all exactly why in this post.  I’m not sure if I like them better than the books because I haven’t read the whole series, but there’s just something about the movies that sink deep into my heart. (In a good way.)

The casting is pretty perfect.

In all the criticisms I’ve heard about the trilogy, I’ve never heard anyone complain about the cast.  Why?  Because it’s the best.  The casting director got four kids who simply are the Pevensies.  C.S. Lewis wrote children extremely well and that translates wonderfully onto the screen. (Plus, with the length of the films and modern storytelling conventions, you get – I think – a deeper depth and understanding of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.)

I love the Pevensie’s character arcs, even if they aren’t always book-accurate.  Susan’s doubt (okay, that is accurate), Lucy’s vanity in ‘Dawn Treader’, Edmund’s journey of redemption and overcomingness in all three films, and Peter’s struggles with leadership.  Sooooo good.

And then there are the other characters.  Whether it’s voice casting or Real Person Casting, there are very few mishaps throughout the three films.  Liam Neeson voicing Aslan?  Actually perfect.  And Mr. Tumnus, Reepicheep, EUSTACE…it all works.

The emotions are real.

Whether it’s Aslan rising from the Stone Table, Peter and Susan learning they can’t return to Narnia, or Eustace’s monologue at the end of ‘Dawn Treader’…these movies know how to grab my emotions and hold them hostage.  Part of that is the excellent acting.  But another part of it is that I believe the screenwriters got to the soul of the Narnia books and translated it into great moments of triumph and heartbreak on screen. ❤

The aesthetic is my kind of aesthetic.

This is purely personal (I know at least one person who greatly dislikes Narnia’s appearance in the films).  But, in my opinion, these movies are a special kind of beautiful.  Sun-drenched lands, the purple sails of the Dawn Treader, lush green fields.  I would almost watch the Narnia films just to look at them.  But the fact that almost everything else is so great makes me even happier.

The music is magical.

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track titles for the first movie.

I’ve got a thing for movie soundtracks and Harry Gregson-Williams and David Arnold outdid themselves.  There’s a specific magical feeling to so many of the tracks.  Basically the whole of the first movie’s soundtrack has that feel.  I haven’t noticed the soundtracks for ‘Prince Caspian’ or ‘Dawn Treader’ as much because they take a lot of the themes from ‘The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ and use them in new and interesting ways. (Particularly ‘Prince Caspian’ since it had the same composer as LWW.)  And you have to admit that the soundtracks make good background music for reading the books, too. (If reading + listening to music is your thing.)

The Narnia movies are good movies.

I totally get not liking a movie because it strays from the book.  But the Narnia movies are still excellent, even if they don’t stay completely accurate.  An engaging cast, stellar music, great world-building…they all come together to make for an immersive experience that I imagine is similar to marathoning the Lord of the Rings movies.

So try a Narnia marathon some lazy, rainy Saturday.  Chances are you’ll come out of it a little dazed, maybe a little changed, and hopefully more in love with the world and characters of Narnia than ever.


And finally, there’s something unidentifiable about the Narnia films.  They Mean Something to me.  I can’t really explain it or put it into words, but it’s true.  Right now, they mean more to me than the books. (Though that might change when I read the whole series sometime this year.)  Everybody has their likes and dislikes, and I’m certainly not ordering you to like the Narnia trilogy (like I even could).  But I did want to defend them – and explain why I personally adore them.

I hope I did a good job. 🙂


anatomy of a Hallmark royal romance movie

Warning: high levels of snark and sarcasm from this point forward.  You Have Been Warned.


There is a particularly delightful genre of Hallmark films that I’ve dubbed ‘royal romances’.  Though each of these films gives their own unique, spell-binding twist on the trope of ‘prince meets princesses’ there are some slight similarities between a few of these films if you dig deep enough into the subtext.  To save you from all that fuss and bother, I’ve done all the work for you!  So if Hallmark shows up at your door, asking you to write the script for their next royal romance blockbuster, this post has you covered.

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Our heroine – We’ll call her ‘Sam’ (short for Samantha, of course) because every Hallmark heroine needs an easy-to-forget-remember name.  She will be awkward, relatable, quirky, unique, ditzy, down-to-earth, prone to ramble and babble in the presence of princes, and may or may not be an unknown princess because her mother’s brother’s cousin’s nephew was the king of-  Well, we’ll get to that. (She’s probably lost both parents btw, but definitely one.)

Our hero – Kent Brentworthy the fifteenth.  Perfect teeth, perfect hair, perfect face, perfect stubble…this guy has it all.  Except a personality.  But Sam won’t care because one flash of his dimples and some mutterings about being a prince and he’ll have won her heart.  Until he loses it momentarily by talking about how women should conform to traditional female roles.

Other side of the love triangle – Actually, there will be two.  Lara Meangirl who is indubitably more royal than Sam and thus is a serious threat to Sam’s budding romance with Kent.  The other will be Sam’s boyfriend from back in New York who comes all the way to Europe to beg for her heart and hand. (This will lead to some glowering by Kent.)  If you’re really lucky and the budget is big enough, you can squeeze in a local guy, ridiculously handsome, who builds leather clocks or wooden shoes.  If he’s handsome enough, Sam could end up giving up the prince and marrying Handsome Leatherworker.

Heroine’s POC bff who gives advice in probably the first scene of the film and is never heard from again – I pretty much just said it all.  Who needs diversity in Eastern Europe???

Sweet, perky maid who gives Sam all the advice she needs – She’ll be a brunette (to contrast Sam’s inevitable blondeness).

Mean, vaguely threatening prime minister who tries to dig up dirt on Sam – Every fairy tale needs a good old fashioned villain.  Or at least someone with a threatening, graying goatee.  He’s probably scheming with the Mean Housekeeper, btw.

Elderly hilarious British butler who provides tidbits of wisdom to Kent and Sam respectively and is really the hero of the film – This character will be the fan-favorite, especially if you give him some comedy scenes where The Proper British Dude starts break-dancing or something. (Because Sam is starting to change everyone and everything around the castle.)

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Sam is a twenty-something female writer/reporter/journalist who has a hard time finding love.  Or keeping love.  Or clutching onto it with both hands wrapped in velcro.  She comes home one day to find a thick letter (delivered by Old British Butler) that either a) invites her to Gorovia for some inexplicable reason or b) reveals that she is indeed the long-lost princess of Gorovia.

Upon arrival, she instantly bumps into a stunningly handsome man in an impeccably tailored suit.  She literally bumps into him.  Much embarrassment ensues, but only on her side.  He seems faintly amused but excuses himself as quickly as possible.  “Boy, he was handsome,” she thinks.  “Who could he be???”

At the palace (the interiors of which do not match the stock footage outside), she meets Perky Maid, Mean Housekeeper, and Vaguely Threatening Prime Minister.  She also literally bumps into the same guy again only, GASP, it’s PRINCE KENT.  Who is visiting from a neighboring kingdom (called Hofferlotosidifjowovia – it really doesn’t matter what the kingdoms are called so long as they all end with ‘ovia’).  More embarrassment ensues and Sam quickly escapes to her room with the help of Perky Maid.

Sam gasps over her room, even though it doesn’t look all that great.

Awkward commercial break. (I won’t point out all the commercial breaks in this because they will be frequent and awkward in the actual film.)

Next morning, Sam awkwardly does some stuff with politics, including suggestions that the patriarchy be overthrown.  This is met with horror, so she escapes for a horse ride with Prince Kent.  It’s raining but that doesn’t deter them.  He ends up talking about how women – even princesses – should get married ASAP and raise children while their husbands take care of politics.  Sam vows to hate him forever and rides home alone.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is working to dig up dirt about Sam.  A ball is planned (double points if you can make it a masquerade ball) and Sam wears a ballgown that is spectacularly underwhelming.  I mean, she’s a princess!

You’re expecting this:

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And you get this:

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Sam and Kent dance together.  All is forgiven.  Kent is just about to announce their engagement when the Prime Minister shows up, all out of breath, and declares that Lara Meangirl (idk where she came from but whatever) is closer to the throne than Sam and Sam is an imposter.  Sam is stunned and runs away, back to her home in America. (Without waiting to hear explanations from anyone because quirky, down-to-earth people like Sam don’t do that.) 

When she gets there, her old boyfriend who dumped her, is waiting.  They’re about to announce their engagement when Kent bursts into the hotel’s party room, soaking wet (it was raining outside again), and sweeps Sam off her feet.  “I don’t care that you’re not a princess!” he exclaims.  “You’ll always be my princess!”  Then he slips a fifty-carat diamond ring on her finger and all the guests who were supposed to applaud her engagement to Loser Boyfriend applaud her engagement to Kent.  Because princes are better than ordinary dudes.

They kiss.  And the world basically explodes from the power of that kiss.

Whether there’s a wedding after this pivotal scene or not depends on the movie’s budget, but if there is a wedding, it’ll be the best part of the film.  And Sam will definitely wear an underwhelming wedding dress.

You’re expecting this:

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And you get this:

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The End

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  • Make sure there’s a Kent-teaches-Sam-archery scene.  Especially if she already knows how to hit the bulls-eye and shows him up after his cringy, here-let-me-put-my-hands-on-your-waist-to-steady-you lesson.
  • Have Sam (Kent optional) tour Gorovia to see some insulting Eastern European cultural and architectural stereotypes.  Bonus points if a lisping child gives Sam a bouquet and kicks Kent in the leg. (If she kicks Kent, it has to be before he makes up with Sam for being all chauvinist.  This will make the audience laugh.)
  • If the casting choice for Prince Kent is hot enough, you’ll probably get a sequel deal out of it, ‘kay?

So now you have the basic ingredients for a Hallmark royal romance movie!  Have fun writing!