Some things are givens during the holiday season.
Television networks will be chock full of Christmas variety specials, heartwarming and/or stomach-churning, light romantic-comedies, and the ghosts of traditional favorites past.
The stores run holiday songs on a continuous loop over their loudspeakers, while various and sundry big-name artists release heartwarming and/or stomach-churning Christmas albums.
Theaters mount their winter productions — filled with familiar songs and heartwarming and/or stomach-churning storylines about redemption and the “true meaning” of the holiday...
And, at the movies, what to our wondering eyes does appear ... but Dick Cheney.
“Vice” (a biopic of the political puppeteer and George W. Bush’s vice president) eventually will find its way into Rogue Valley theaters — most likely after the hubbub of the holidays has settled down for a spell.
The film is among the many being released this month during the prestige window where films depend on the recency bias of Academy Awards voters to ensure that they’ll be in the running for when Oscar nominations are announced next month.
What better time than the Christmas season — when children are out of school and adults are mustering what cheer they can after 12 months of treadmilling — to fill theaters with an onslaught of movies about serious moral dilemmas and the inequities and injustices of everyday life?
Haven’t we suffered enough the past 12 months?
Do I want to see a former movie Batman portray a political Mr. Freeze? Do I want to see Dirty Harry cast as a clueless drug smuggler? Do I want to spend a couple of hours contemplating bigotry (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), bullying (“Welcome to Marwen”), backstabbing (“The Favourite”) and substance abuse (“Beautiful Boy”)?
I mean, if I wanted to immerse myself in bigotry, bullying, backstabbing and substance abuse ... I’d break out the old home movies from childhood.
These well-intentioned, “important” pictures are often force-fed to us through promotional campaigns that refer to them as “films that speak to our times,” as tenuous connections are made to current events in a calculated attempt to make us think it’s our civic duty to see them.
If it is said I pursue lexicological crap*, then the gobbledygook generated by this orchestrated Oscar-bait pandering is enough to leave Mrs. and Mr. Moviegoer and all the Little Moviegoers in search of somewhere to spend their money without choking on their popcorn as Emma Stone washes Olivia Coleman’s feet.
Which is why — in this season when optimism and relief seemingly are in such short supply — there actually is a movie about to hit local theaters that promises a couple of hours’ respite from real world problems.
“Mary Poppins Returns.”
Go ahead, laugh — or smirk, snark, sigh or sound the raspberry. But as I sit here in my cynical corner of the world, I can feel my heart growing three sizes as I await the chance to buy a ticket to wash down the cod liver oil of everyday life with a refreshing spoonful of sugar.
At the very least, “Mary Poppins Returns” will serve as a palette cleanser for those who sat through “Saving Mr. Banks” — the less than successful attempt of a few years back to tell the backstage story of filming the original movie about the magical nanny.
“Mary Poppins Returns” is NOT a remake, which — when it seems as though every film or TV show about a familiar character is either a reboot or retelling of the same story — sets it apart immediately.
Instead, Mary Poppins returns ... with new songs ... when the now-adult children she set straight the first time around are once again in need of her counsel. (And if helping out those who have lost their way isn’t a film that speaks to our times, then call me a dancing penguin.)
And, while some millennially challenged critics have pooh-poohed the prospect of Poppins, their pomposity hasn’t kept it from appearing on many of the year’s lists of best films.
I will admit that your desire to see this movie in large part will depend on how old you were when you saw the original, and whether it left any lasting imprint on your psyche.
Still, if you’ve ever attended an art festival where chalk drawings line the sidewalks and felt the impish desire to jump in (if not through) one, your inner child might be knocking at the door wanting you to come out and play ... if only for a couple of hours.
Besides, we’ve already lived through Dick Cheney’s song-and-dance routine. There isn’t enough egg nog on the planet to get me in the mood to live through it again.
If you decipher why the * appears in this week’s “Fourth Wall,” send your answer to Mail Tribune columnist Robert Galvin at firstname.lastname@example.org.