Archives for January 11, 2019

Mary Poppins Returns – A Charming Musical Filled To The Brim With Imagination And Whimsy

In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail Zoe L. comments, “What I really love about this film is that it has a great story, acting, singing, dancing and music. I particularly loved the live action mixed with vibrant colorful animation.” Benjamin P. adds, “Mary Poppins Returns is a charming musical filled to the brim with imagination and whimsy. It is quite entertaining and Emily Blunt is very good as the magical, manners-focused nanny.” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror wraps it up with, “The costumes are alive with color. The cinematography is outstanding and depicts details to marvel in when you see the film the second or third time! The acting is superb and there are some surprises, too! Adults will be happy to see appearances by two old favorites. Suspend belief and see Mary Poppins Returns! It is practically perfect in every way!”

Mary Poppins Returns

By Abigail Zoe L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

The movie, Mary Poppins Returns is a beautiful classic movie. I totally enjoyed it and can’t wait to watch it again. However, it is different from what I thought it would be. I thought I was going to see a remake of the original Mary Poppins, you know, the one made famous by the incredible Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. However, Mary Poppins Returns is a sequel.

The story takes place 25 years into the future of the Banks’ family and the brother and sister are all grown up now. Mr. Banks has recently lost his wife and is devastated. The family is losing their home because they are behind on payments. Fortunately, for the Banks’ family, Mary Poppins (played by the multi-talented Emily Blunt) returns to help the family.

What I really love about this film is that it has a great story, acting, singing, dancing and music. I particularly loved the live action mixed with vibrant colorful animation. There are also golden nuggets of lessons to be learned in life, which I’ll share shortly.

One of my favorite parts in the movie is when Mary Poppins makes her grand entrance gliding down from high in the sky with her umbrella. Another awesome scene is when Jack (played the brilliantly talented Lin-Manuel Miranda) uses a ladder to climb the multi-high clock tower. Another really cool scene is when all the characters go down a tub drain and enter a whole new world where they swim and sing.

I love the singing voices of Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda. It is great to see a cameo appearance by the amazing Dick Van Dyke (as Mr. Dawes Jr.) who runs the bank. He literally lit up the film when he appears and dances on a desk. Angela Lansbury’s cameo as the Balloon Lady was also just perfect. She has one of those voices when you hear one word you know it’s her.

The messages of Mary Poppins Returns are important for all of us to remember – never lose hope, try to look at the brighter side of things and don’t forget what it is to be or have the heart of a child. I recommend this for ages 5 to 18 and also for adults. This film comes to theatres December 19, 2018 and I think you will love it, too. I joyfully give Mary Poppins Returns 5 out of 5 stars!

Mary Poppins Returns

By Benjamin P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13

Mary Poppins Returns is a charming musical filled to the brim with imagination and whimsy. It is quite entertaining and Emily Blunt is very good as the magical, manners-focused nanny.

The storyline follows the title character as she returns to the Banks’ family home, decades later. Siblings Michael and Jane Banks are grown up. Michael, with kids of his own and mourning the loss of his wife, is about to lose the home that they have lived in since they were children. Poppins descends from the London sky, ready to help the Banks’ family with their plight and teach Michael’s kids to use their imaginations and improve their manners. The bank has given Michael a few days to pay off his house, setting off a countdown for Poppins, the Banks and a lamplighter named Jack to save the home.

The story is interesting. Michael Banks has hit rock bottom. His wife has tragically passed away and he’s about to lose the home he has lived in since childhood. The only thing that brings him joy is the comfort and company of his family. It’s a sad place to start, but it’s a great scenario for Mary Poppins to come to work her magic. The idea of losing your home is pretty realistic and the contrast with such a fantastical protagonist and situation, provides an aspect that I quite enjoyed.

Emily Blunt is very good as Mary Poppins. She puts her own twist on the character, yet you can still trace it back to the earlier onscreen depiction of Poppins. Blunt gives the character a sharper, comedic edge. Her Poppins is much more witty and sarcastic, but still gives a sense of compassion and care for those around her. Blunt really dives into the role and cements her portrayal in a charismatic way. She steals the show in nearly every scene.

I recommend Mary Poppins Returns for ages 5 to 18, due to some dark themes. Adults and fans of the original Mary Poppins will enjoy this film. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The film has lots of charm and it’s great to see Poppins sail back onto the screen once again.

Mary Poppins Returns

By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

The magic of Disney reappears in Mary Poppins Returns, directed and produced by Rob Marshall! Do you remember when Mary Poppins flew in to save the day for Michael and Jane Banks in Disney’s Mary Poppins debut 1964? It was a magical time as she popped in and out. Today, we relive the magic as Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) flies in to assist Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) and his housekeeper, Ellen (Julie Walters), bring order to his home and care for his three children –  Anabel (Pixie Davies), John (Nathanael Saleh) and Georgie (Joel Dawson) at Number 17 Cherry Tree Lane, London following a terrible loss.

The story begins with a fabulous musical dancing and singing performance by Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), a city lamplighter and a man who has a soft spot for Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer), Michael’s Sister, for most of his life. Liveliness quickly subsides to concern as Michael Banks’ home, their childhood home, is tapped by the repo man, in the form of two bank solicitors. The timeframe is 1930s depression-era London and many are strapped, yet there is one person who relishes the misfortune of others, William Weatherall Wilkins (Colin Firth), president of the bank. You see, the bank is quite happy to collect on other’s misfortune and the Banks family is a target for this greedy man.

With Mary Poppins at the helm, joy and wonder return to the children. She takes them on many colorful adventures including a visit to see her cousin, Topsy (Meryl Streep). The adventures are full of action and I found myself lost in their magic and not wanting them to end. There are big musical numbers in their travels. The film travels the road to musical and intrigues imagination along the way.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, as well as adults. The costumes are alive with color. The cinematography is outstanding and depicts details to marvel in when you see the film the second or third time! The acting is superb and there are some surprises, too! Adults will be happy to see appearances by two old favorites. Suspend belief and see Mary Poppins Returns! It is practically perfect in every way! This film opens in theaters nationwide December 19, 2018. See it!

 Images © 2017 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County Debut Two Offers of Free Onsite General Admission: LAUSD Students and Chaperones During LAUSD Strike, and Furloughed Federal Employees During Shutdown


LAUSD students and chaperones: offer good Monday-Friday from January 14 until the end of the strike

Federal employees: offer good Monday-Friday during the
month of January.

In response to the uncertainty around the LAUSD strike and federal shutdown, the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) will offer free onsite general admission to all LAUSD students and chaperones, as well as furloughed federal employees (with ID) and a guest.

LAUSD Students and Chaperones

LAUSD students and chaperones will have access to grade-appropriate self-guided activities and lesson plans for pick-up onsite at the Natural History Museum (NHM) in Exposition Park and La Brea Tar Pits and Museum in mid-Wilshire/Hancock Park, as well as the below program if the strike continues.

Tuesday, February 12 | Gems and Minerals, Unearthed!
9:30am–12pm | Natural History Museum
Investigate the fascinating world of Mineral Sciences! Minerals, rocks, gems, ores, and even meteorites provide invaluable information, from how we view the past to technologies of the future. Look closer at our world-class collections, talk with museum scientists, and learn more about the over 2,000 specimens in our world famous Gems and Minerals Hall, including our gem vault’s newest addition, The Art of the Jewel.

Furloughed Federal Employees

Furloughed federal employees (with ID) and a guest will receive free general admission Monday through Friday during the month of January.

At NHM, visitors will come face-to-face with a life-size LEGO build of the velociraptor “Blue” from Jurassic World, discover the shimmering science behind jewelry designed by renowned artist Paula Crevoshay, see an original costume from 1924’s Peter Pan, and watch a 3D film (ticket purchase required).

At La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, visitors can explore the new Mammoth and Mastodons exhibition, which features life-sized models of Ice Age giants (which used to stomp the area that became Los Angeles) and over 20 hands-on interactives.

Here’s everything that’s happening at NHMLAC:


LEGO Jurassic World Big Build
Now on view for a limited time

Stop by a life-size Jurassic World LEGO installation, which is made of over 700,000 LEGO pieces and weighs 3,560 lbs! The model shows Blue, the superintelligent velociraptor that Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) had a special bond with, atop an overturned vine-and-moss-covered jeep.

Free with museum admission. For more information, visit

Art of the Jewel: The Crevoshay Collection
On view through Sunday, May 12, 2019

Journey through the masterpieces of jewelry designer Paula Crevoshay, as we witness the transformation from mineral to gem to jewel. NHM’s Gem and Mineral Vault features over 50 luxurious pieces of jewelry—including earrings, bracelets, and brooches—made of California tourmaline, Montana sapphire, moonstone, pearl, and black diamond, among others, accompanied by loose gems and minerals from the Museum’s collections. Inspired by Crevoshay’s passion for art, science, and the natural world, the designs take the shape of plants, animals, and insects, like orchids, spiders, and butterflies. Discover the natural process of mineral creation, the characteristics that define a gem, and the art that transforms them into elegant jewels.

Free with museum admission. For more information,

New NHM 3D Theater

Oceans 3D: Our Blue Planet
Now through January 31, 2019

Go further into the ocean’s depths than ever before. Travel beneath the surface in this 3D oceanic adventure, narrated by Kate Winslet. Explore a vast uncharted world of vibrant coral cities, enchanted underwater forests, and deep waters.

Oceans 3D tells untold stories of the sea’s most astonishing creatures. Swim along leaping dolphins, sea otters, sharks, whales, and sea turtles. Dive around coral reef ecosystems, and journey to the depths of the ocean floor and find some of the most extreme and most exotic animals ever discovered. (Run time: 25 minutes)

Incredible Predators
Now through June 2019

In our new 3D Theater, catch a screening of Incredible Predators, which deconstructs the world of major predators as never before and takes an intimate look at the remarkable strategies they use to succeed. Advanced filming techniques expose the planet’s top predators in extraordinary footage, putting the audience right beside them as they hunt—on land, under the sea or in the air.

Top predators occupy an apex position within the habitats they dominate and, alongside dramatic animal behavior, Incredible Predators reveals the unique relationship between predators and prey as a fundamental building block of ecology. (Run time: 25 minutes)

All 3D films are Free for Members. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Becoming Los Angeles
On view now

This newly reimagined permanent exhibition tells the story of how Los Angeles transformed into a sprawling metropolis. It’s the local saga of how L.A. went from cowboys to cars, which battles raged in its backyards, why an aqueduct changed everything, and the diverse Angelenos, past and present, who made it happen. See the newest addition to the exhibition—actress Betty Bronson’s original costume from 1924’s Peter Pan—and learn about how Hollywood was born.

Watch community leaders share what it means to be an Indigenous Californian living in L.A. today, hear the audio recordings of Museum visitors who came before you, and share your story about what L.A. is to you.

Free with museum admission. For more information, visit

Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene
On view now through January 22, 2019

Earth Works: Mapping the Anthropocene is presented by USC Fisher Museum of Art in collaboration with NHM. NHM presents the 11 feet by 16 feetJakobshavn I by artist Justin Brice Guariglia—depicting one of Greenland’s fastest-melting glaciers. Visit this inspiring work and spark your own conversation about the dawn of this new age, climate change, and human impact on the planet.

Free with museum admission. For more information or to purchase tickets,

LA BREA TAR PITS (Mid-Wilshire / Hancock Park)

NEW! Mammoths and Mastodons
On view now through Fall 2019

The museum at La Brea Tar Pits totally changed its visitor experience with a new installation focusing on mammoths and mastodons based on a traveling exhibit organized by Chicago’s Field Museum. New experiences include life-sized models, hands-on interactives, and the latest discoveries and research relating to these extraordinary Ice Age animals—found both at the Tar Pits and around the world. This interactive experience invites visitors into the world of titans that lived across Asia, Africa, Europe, the L.A. Basin and California’s Channel Islands before they went extinct thousands of years ago.

Free with museum admission. For more information or to purchase tickets,

Titans of the Ice Age 3D
Daily screenings

Journey to a world lost in time, buried in ice, and ruled by giants. In this exciting 3D adventure, discover an icy world on the brink of extinction, where humans share the frozen tundra with majestic beasts. Encounter some of the Earth’s most awe-inspiring mammals, from saber-toothed cats and dire wolves to giant sloths and the iconic mammoths that lived 10,000 years before modern civilization. See how these magnificent creatures became trapped in tar, preserved in time, and are being unearthed today.

All 3D films are Free for Members. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


Consider a membership that gives you unlimited access to the Natural History Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, and William S. Hart Museum year-round and supports our mission. Become a member today by


Credit: Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. Photos were also provided.

The Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) include the Natural History Museum, La Brea Tar Pits, and the William S. Hart Museum. They operate under the collective vision to inspire wonder, discovery, and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds. The museums hold one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—more than 35 million objects. Using these collections for groundbreaking scientific and historic research, the museums also incorporate them into on- and offsite nature and culture exploration in L.A. neighborhoods, and a slate of community science programs—creating indoor-outdoor visitor experience that explore the past, present, and future.

The Los Angeles Zoo announces free student admission and a “Community Safari Day” Program in the event of a Los Angeles Unified School District Teachers’ Strike

The Los Angeles Zoo will offer free admission to Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) students grades K-12 as well as a “Community Safari Day” program for grades K-5, providing a safe and educational place for students during the LAUSD teachers’ strike.   

Free admission is offered to all currently enrolled LAUSD students grades K-12, along with a $5.00 fee for accompanying chaperones. Students merely need to show proof of enrollment by presenting a school ID card, report card, school newsletter or similar proof of enrollment. Complimentary admission will be offered Monday through Friday and only on days LAUSD schools are impacted due to the teachers’ strike. Tickets are available at the L.A. Zoo box office only. This limited-time discount is not available online.  

In addition to free admission, the L.A. Zoo will be offering a “Community Safari Day” program for children grades K-5. Supervised by the Zoo’s specially trained, experienced adult staff, students can spend the day engaged in fun activities and crafts while learning about their favorite animals. This program is currently being offered January 14-18, 2019 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with extended morning (8-9 a.m.) and afternoon (4-5 p.m.) hours offered for free with paid registration. Admission is $50 per student. Space is limited and online advance registration required. In the event that school closures end, any fees paid for future dates will be refunded. No refunds will be permitted for other individual cancellations. To learn more and register, please visit 

Credit: The Los Angeles Zoo.