MARY POPPINS (1964)
Article 2597 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-15-2008
Posting Date: 9-22-2008
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Featuring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson
A magical nanny brings joy to the home of a stodgy banker.
MARY POPPINS has long had the reputation of being one of Disney’s undisputed classics. It’s easy to see why; much of the movie is brilliant, Julie Andrew’s singing, Dick Van Dyke’s dancing, and the special effects machine at Disney are all in top form here. Still, the fact of the matter here is that I emerge from watching it feeling a little emptier than I think I should. I first start getting antsy when they all go to the animated fantasy world, and the kids go one way while Andrews and Van Dyke go another, Van Dyke singing a song about how wonderful Mary Poppins is. Now, I have a cardinal rule about songs like this; they’re unnecessary, as we should be able to tell a character is wonderful by their actions rather than having someone sing to us how wonderful they are.
That’s not the only scene I have problems with. Overall, I think the movie, despite its truly great moments, is overlong, and somewhat bloated with whimsy. When I first saw it years ago, I thought the movie was plotless. Watching it again, I know it isn’t, but I do feel the plot is given short shrift in order to make way for more whimsy. Practically every big musical number goes on too long, and I get tired of the way the movie constantly regurgitates certain themes, especially the “spoonful of sugar” philosophy. In short, I don’t place this one the same level as Disney’s early animated features, which seem to be more enjoyable on a broader level than this one.