Written by Hombre Divertido
In 1964 Walt Disney brought P.L. Travers’ character Mary Poppins to the big screen in what was considered his crowning achievement. Julie Andrews, in an Academy Award performance, embodied the magical nanny that glides into the lives of the Banks family and teaches them the importance of priorities and family along with some catchy tunes. On January 27th, 2009 Disney gives this 1964 classic the anniversary treatment.
Though the animation is slightly flat by today’s standards, the restored and remastered film looks great and is sure to entertain children of all ages and adults will certainly be impressed by what was accomplished over four decades ago. Adults may find the combining of stories from books by P.L Travers to result in a collection of scenes rather than a complete story, but what it lacks in continuity, it makes up for in outstanding performances by Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, and an incredibly talented and versatile supporting cast.
As the film itself is obviously a beloved classic, it is the bonus material that gets much focus, as that is what may draw someone to a purchase of something they already own. This two-disc release contains many of the same bonus features included in the 40th anniversary release, but there is some new material, and that which has been previously released is thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. It is slightly annoying that the packing does not include a list of material and thus the discs need to be loaded to determine their contents.
The highlight of the bonus material is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: The Making of Mary Poppins” which does an outstanding job of chronicling how this gem made it’s way to the big screen.
Another wonderful bonus feature consists of available footage and radio recordings from the World Premiere Gala Red Carpet event, which have been masterfully combined into a magical look back at Hollywood in an era of true stardom and glamour. It is interesting to watch the interviewers and how awkward they are when compared to the talent of today.
The audio commentary with Andrews, Van Dyke, Karen Dotrice (Jane Banks), and songwriter Richard Sherman, combined with “Poppins Pop-Up Fun Facts” make for a unique viewing experience even for those who have visited with Mary and the Banks family many times before.
“Movie Magic” lends far too little insight into the effects used to bring the enchanted world of Mary Poppins to life, and is clearly geared towards children.
The Dick Van Dyke make-up test is interesting to look at briefly, as are some of the trailers and still art galleries.
The “Music and More” section of the menu is full of fun for the whole family. The sing-along section is great to help all join in with the classic tunes, and the “Magical Music Reunion” with Andrews, Van Dyke, and Sherman, is casual, comfortable, and engaging to the audience.
“A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman” is informative and enjoyable as Sherman obviously has a great love for this project and he conveys it with great enthusiasm when reminiscing over many aspect of the production.
The inclusion of deleted song “Chimpanzoo,” though interesting, is redundant as it is also included in the same format as part of the previously mentioned “A Musical Journey with Richard Sherman”.
The bonus short “The Cat That Looked at the King” from a chapter of P.L Travers’ sequel Mary Poppins Opens the Door features not only Andrews, but an all-star cast of vocal talent as well. Unfortunately the result is somewhat awkward. Though the intent is clear and the information certainly valuable, it is a bit too convoluted and thus the message may be missed by those most in need.
Unfortunately the new material on this 45th anniversary release does not compare well to previously featured bonuses. “Disney on Broadway”, which should be viewed after the features already mentioned in this review even though it appears first on the menu to form a logical historical storyline, consists of:
“Mary Poppins From Page to Stage” attempts to tell the story of how Mary Poppins made her way to a live performance, fails on many levels. Far too much effort was put in to making it appear artsy; it lacks continuity and takes too long to provide interesting information.
“Step in Time” consists of the Broadway cast performing the classic number from the show. Unfortunately it translates poorly simply due to the production quality related to how it was filmed. It fails to capture the true energy associated with the Broadway production. There is a downloadable MP3 version of the Broadway cast singing “Step in Time.”
Scenic and Costume Designer Bob Crowley provides a video intro as well as Design Galleries.
Recommendation: If you own the 40th anniversary release, the new material is simply not enough to warrant another purchase unless you are a huge fan of the Broadway production, and even then you may be disappointed.
If you don’t own Mary Poppins on DVD, than this is a valuable addition to your collection as there is enough bonus material to fill an entire rainy Saturday with enjoyable viewing. Of course, with the 50th Anniversary release right around the corner, you may want to wait.