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Mary Poppins: 50th Anniversary Edition - DVD Review

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Mary Poppins - DVD Review

3 stars

The world didn’t know it needed a remake of The Shaggy Dog. But the Disney studio churned one out, anyway, in 2006. It belongs on a long list of their updates including That Darn Cat, The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday. However, there’s one original movie that can never be improved upon: Mary Poppins (1964). The film won 5 out of the 13 Academy Awards it was nominated for in 1965. In honor of its 50th anniversary, Disney has released a new and digitally restored DVD with family friendly bonus material.

Based on the books of P.L. Travers, Mary Poppins is about a magical nanny sent to care for Jane and Michael Banks, the children of an upper class family in King Edward-era England. Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) takes Jane and Michael on adventures that blend live action and animation. First she commands their nursery to clean itself up, which it does. Then they all jump into the world of a chalk drawing and later float to the ceiling for a midair tea party with her Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn). The creativity of these scenes and plenty of memorable songs account for Mary Poppins’ lasting popularity. On a side note, Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of the tense collaboration between Disney and P.L. Travers, who was fiercely possessive of her beloved character.

Today, some of Mary Poppins’ special effects look a bit dated. The stop-motion animation in the nursery scene appears jerky and awkward at times. But others hold up surprisingly well. The actors do seem to hover near the ceiling, bobbing gently during their tea party.

Because the books consisted of unrelated fantasy vignettes, the screenwriters came up with parental neglect as a unifying problem to solve. Thus Mr. Banks (David Tomlinson) acts cold and distant, obsessed with his work at the bank. Mrs. Banks (Glynis Johns) is preoccupied with the suffragette cause, at one point foisting babysitting duties on chimney sweeping Bert (Dick Van Dyke). So besides adding excitement to the kids’ lives, Mary Poppins has to straighten out their parents’ misplaced priorities. In true Disney fashion, she succeeds at both and then flies away as mysteriously as she came.

Watching Mary Poppins as an adult, I found that it makes more sense now. Young viewers don’t have the vocabulary or historical knowledge to fully grasp the plot. Some dialogue and song lyrics (with words like “fiduciary” and “noblesse oblige”) go way over their heads. The setting is far away in England of 1910, where two pennies were called tuppence and women fought for voting rights. The movie also requires a long attention span at 139 minutes. But at least Mary Poppins never talks down to kids. With uncommon respect for them, it lines up with Walt Disney’s stated philosophy. “I don’t make films for children,” he once said. “I make films that children aren’t embarrassed to take their parents to.”

Mary Poppins - DCD ReviewMPAA Rating: G for General Audiences.
Runtime:
139 mins
Director
: Robert Stevenson
Writer
: Bill Walsh, Don DaGradi
Cast:
Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson
Genre
: Family | Adeventure | Comedy
Tagline:
See It Again and Again with that Supercalifragilistic Music!
Memorable Movie Quote: "We're clearly soldiers in petticoats, and dauntless crusaders for women's a-votes! Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid."
Distributor:
Buena Vista Distribution Company
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 29, 1964
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
December 10, 2013

Synopsis: A magic nanny comes to work for a cold banker's unhappy family.

 

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