Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Practically Perfect In Every Way...Mary Poppins!

by Al Kessel
Ok, I must admit something. I am 49 years old. I have never seen Mary Poppins. I've lived my entire life without every seeing this movie. Now, before you demand my Disney Fan Club Card back, remember, it took me 43 years to make my first trip to Disneyland...and I became a HUGE fan instantly. Much like with Mary Poppins!

Our good friend Mr. Daps (from Daps Magic) refers to Mary Poppins a lot. He's obviously a big fan of the story, and now I know why. Joyce LOVES Mary Poppins, and was so excited when we were offered a copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition to review...and yes, NOW I know WHY. 
Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins

So, for those of you, like I WAS, who have never seen Disney's Mary Poppins, in a nutshell, it's all about a proper British family in London during the very early 1900's. Now, the father, Mr. Banks, in true British fashion, is the master of the household - totally involved in his work at the bank, ignoring the children and the wife, yet expects them to toe the line. The mother, Mrs. Banks, likes to support the 'women's' causes and is often away from the children. Then there's the children: Jane Banks, a precocious little girl, and Michael Banks, a precious little boy. As you'd expect, the Banks' children are often neglected by mom and dad, and generally give their nanny (by the time we open the film, it's obvious there's been MANY nannies) a most difficult time. In fact, the nannies keep dropping like flies! So, to settle the issue once and for all, Mr. Banks decides it's up to HIM to hire the next nanny and drafts a 'Nanny Wanted' ad to be placed in the newspaper. Of course, the children have their own version of the help wanted ad that father thinks is nonsense. So he tears it up, tosses it into the fireplace and that is..that. Or...is it? 
The Arrival

The very next day, Mary Poppins floats in (literally) on her umbrella-ella-ella (sorry, a little Genie humor. Those who've seen the Aladdin Theater show at California Adventure will get it!). And the rest, as they say, is theatrical history as Mary Poppins (NEVER just Mary) takes the Banks' children in adventures like stepping into a sidewalk chalk painting, riding a merry-go-round as the horses break away from the go-round and join in on a horse race, become chimney sweeps and join in on a fun musical number. All sorts of great stuff. And, helping Mary Poppins is the mysterious, musical and awesome Bert. I'm still not sure WHO or WHAT Bert was, but I know he's got a spirit that is just WONDERFUL!
Dick Van Dyke as Bert
Mary Poppins is without a doubt one of the best live-action Disney films I've seen. Julie Andrews (in her very first movie role) IS Mary Poppins. I mean, yes, she portrays Mary Poppins in the movie, but, she IS Mary Poppins. It was almost as if the character was written for her. With her wonderful singing and perfectly timed acting, it is very easy to see why the world fell in love with Julie Andrews after this film. Of course, the movie wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable without my second favorite character - Bert, as played by the incomparable Dick Van Dyke! Always a favorite of mine, Dick brought a wonderful twinkle to Bert that just wouldn't have been the same with any other actor. Although at times, Dick's British accent wasn't nearly as good as his singing and dancing (ESPECIALLY with the penguins - LOVED that sequence), it was very easy to overlook his lack of linguistic skills. 
The Penguin Dance!

Shall We Dance?

Merry-Go-Round Horse Race!

Of course, no movie would be as wonderful as Mary Poppins without a terrific supporting cast. Playing the perfectly English Mr. Banks was David Tomlinson, no stranger to family fantasy movies, starring in another one of Joyce's favorite movies, Bed Knobs and Broomsticks. Tomlinson brings the perfect mixture of uptight, job oriented and caring father to Mr. Banks. Glynis Johns (from While Your Were Sleeping and many more movies), played Mrs. Banks superbly. 

But of course, Mary Poppins would not be nearly the timeless classic it is without the absolutely inspirational musical score by THE most prolific songsters ever - Robert and Richard Sherman! The Sherman Brothers have composed so many songs, not just for Disney, that it's impossible for me to count. But trust me, IF for some STRANGE reason you're not familiar with their names, you'll recognize their music: Winnie The Pooh; Pineapple Princess; It's A Small World; The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room; and for Mary Poppins, awesome tunes like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Let's Go Fly A Kite, Chim Chim Churee, Spoon Full Of Sugar and Feed The Birds (Tuppence a Bag). 
Step In Time with the Chimney Sweeps!

Everything about Mary Poppins is a hit. And of course, as I've said many times, with just about all Disney movies, there IS a moral to the story. The Banks family was in bad shape. No one listened to anyone, they just didn't seem to be a close family. They needed 'Saving'. Mary Poppins is all about the importance of being a family, of enjoying the little things in life. See, in the beginning of the film. Mr. Banks thought the children needed to be controlled, to be taught how to be proper adults. That's why they had some many nannies. The nannies were to teach the youngsters proper manners, how to think like adults. But, in the end, Mary Poppins taught everyone that being true to yourself, being accepting of everyone for WHO they are is the most important lesson of all. 
Just A Spoon Full Of Sugar...

I am now a convert. I love Mary Poppins. A truly timeless classic as only Disney can present, and a wonderful film for the entire family. With such infectious songs, delightful dance numbers and terrific comedy, Mary Poppins is a must see for everyone. 

The Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary Edition is now available. The Blu-Ray Combo Pack includes (MRSP $39.99):

  • Mary Poppins Blu-Ray+DVD+Digital Copy
  • Mary-OKE's - New piece highlights popular music from the film, specifically “Spoon Full of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Step In Time,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee” and allows viewer to sing-along to animated words that display onscreen in unique ways.
  • Becoming Mr. Sherman - Join actor Jason Schwartzman as he sits down for a fun and musical-filled afternoon with Richard Sherman. In the new film, SAVING MR BANKS, Schwartzman portrays the Disney Legend... half of the famous composing team, the Sherman Brothers who wrote all the classic songs from MARY POPPINS, as well as many other favorites. Hear heartwarming, revealing stories about the making of this beloved musical, get more insight on working with Walt Disney, and get a unique sneak peek into SAVING MR BANKS, starring Tom Hanks, and Emma Thompson
Also available on DVD+Digital copy for $29.99

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