Mary Poppins at 45 Still Practically Perfect in Every Way

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A masterful achievement in filmmaking in 1964, Mary Poppins was a technological and cinematic marvel for Walt Disney Studios. Starring Julie Andrews (in her first film role) and Dick Van Dyke (his second film role), Mary Poppins blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. Making the drab and depressing world into a musical feats for the ears and eyes.

Did I mention I really like this movie?

And what’s not to like? One great musical number after another. One phenomenally choreographed moment after the next. And all of it so well-performed and executed that the film still excites me to this day.

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Julie Andrews is a delight as Mary Poppins. A wonderful woman who teaches not just the Banks children but their parents that there is more to life than what’s in front of their nose.

Dick Van Dyke is a comic delight. Yes, his Cockney accent is slipshod, but his nimbleness and dexterity during the dances is amazing. Try some of the moves during “Step in Time” on Dancing with the Stars!

While Walt Disney Studios had blended live-action with animation before Mary Poppins (the Alice series), it had never been done on such a grand and mesmerizing scale. Yruly a feat that would have left filmgoers in 1964 going, “Golly, how the heck did they do that?”

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By far the standout songs for me are: “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” “I Love to Laugh,” “Feed the Birds,” “Step in Time,” and “Let’s go Fly a Kite.” I dare you to watch this movie and not enjoy at least one of the songs AND be humming it for days after.

Here’s “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”!!!

Now, on to the special features.

Disc One contains a Poppins Pop-Up Fun Facts. As you watch the film, fun facts about the production appear on you screen. Where did they get the graphics for the pop-ups? They look as if they were made on an old Macintosh computer. They are pixilated, sloppy-looking, and the font hard to read at times. I expected more from a 45th anniversary edition of a beloved Disney classic.

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Disc Two breaks into several sections:

Disney On Broadway

Go behind-the-scenes of the new Mary Poppins musical on Broadway. Or, better yet, save the thousands of dollars, rent or buy this DVD, and enjoy the film. I was not impressed by what I saw in these featurettes, and I am a big fan of musical theater.

Backstage Disney

An amazing array of features that give us a look at what went into the making of Mary Poppins. The 50 minutes featurette is worth watching, as is the Movie Magic featurette.

Music & More

Reunions, laughs, and a crappy song I am very glad never made the final cut.

Bonus Short

Julie Andrews stars in a short film that is an adaptation of a story from the P.L. Travers book about Mary Poppins. It’s pretty slow-paced and only worth it if you have the time.

If you own the movie, in all of it’s past DVD incarnations, you’re pretty much set. The special features are okay, but not worth buying this new edition for. If you already own the 40th anniversary edition, you really have no need for this one. I’m curious as to what they have planned for the 50th anniversary?

Mary Poppins amazes its way to an A+++++. While special features earn nary a B-.

In Stores January 27, 2009.

Mary Poppins
Walt Disney Pictures
Starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Ed Wynn, Karen Dotrice, Matthew Garber, David Tomlinson, and Glynis Johns
Rated G
Running Time = 139 minutes

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