Point one – I know this blog is mostly about television programming, but occasionally, I get the odd DVD release thrown at me and if it’s worthwhile, I see no reason not to feature it here.
Point two – ain’t that much happening tonight.
The problem is I have a lot of mixed feelings about Disney’s Mary Poppins, which was released in a new two-disc set on DVD on Tuesday. After all, it was the very first movie I remember seeing in a real-live movie theater (as opposed to the back seat of my parents’ station wagon at a drive-in). We went for my younger sister’s birthday, as I recall, and way back in the Pleistocene era, when I grew up, that was a pretty big deal.
Then, of course, some years later, I got hit with the usual rude awakening when I read the books by P. L. Travers and realized they were completely different from the movie! The horror! The angst! What were they thinking? The books are wa-a-a-a-ay better than the movie.
It’s amazing what a few years of perspective will do for you. I was supposed to look at the peripherals on the DVD, but my husband talked me into looking at the movie, instead. And you know what? It’s a pretty good little movie. Yes, Uncle Walt and crew spliced together several of the books into one film – which is seldom a good idea. But I’d forgotten all the wit and intelligence that was still there. Not to mention the delightful performances of David Tomlinson as the put-upon father George Banks. Or Dick Van Dyke, with his barely passable cockney accent as Bert. I actually saw him almost 15 years later on stage still keeping up with the chorus dancers as Professor Harold Hill in a production of The Music Man. Not a trained dancer, by any stretch, but the guy could move, and he does in Mary Poppins, too.
And nobody, but nobody sings with such zest as Julie Andrews. Alas, not even Julie Andrews anymore. It says a lot about Andrews’ ability as an actress that everyone saw her as sweet and innocent when you realize that Poppins was, in fact, totally vain and a bit of a witch, personality-wise. And Andrews pulled it off, seeming not to care, when in fact, the character obviously did – she returned multiple times to the Banks’ nursery.
I recommend watching the DVD with your spouse or someone else of your generation before watching it with your kids – and I highly recommend watching it with your kids. But with the other adult, you’ll be able to stop and start and talk over all your respective memories of the film (assuming you got to see it when you were still young), gripe about how it’s different from the book, gleefully sing along nonetheless (my husband and I were both appalled at how many of the lyrics we still recalled). Then, with all of that out of your system, you can watch it straight through with your kids and enjoy it all over again through their eyes.
And then deal with the angst when they discover that the books are still wa-a-a-a-ay better than the movie.
Anne Louise Bannon
Your Family Viewer