Starring: Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson
Director: Robert Stevenson
Running Time: 139 mins
Mary Poppins is an American film about a magical nanny who comes to brighten the lives of the unhappy family of a cold banker in Edwardian London.
This is a beloved classic family musical that has brought joy to children forever, and it is undoubtedly one of the cheeriest films I’ve ever seen, with a great performance by Julie Andrews. However, it’s got a pretty meandering story that really drags on, and the majority of the songs (apart from the ultimate classics) aren’t really that entertaining.
Of course, as a kids’ film, this is perfect. It’s full of magic and wonder and excitement from the perspective of two young children, whilst it contains an animated sequence containing talking penguin waiters and all sorts that will be sure to please them.
What’s more is that all of the characters are such a pleasure to watch. Mary Poppins is the ultimate nanny, who’s both rigid and disciplined, but has a heart of gold and a smile from the gods that will make her irresistible to love, largely thanks to the brilliant performance by Julie Andrews, who did such a good job that she won Best Actress (for a Disney film!).
Poppins’ best friend, Bert, a simple street man, is also a smiley, joyful man who just wants to have fun, and for the kids to have fun. Dick Van Dyke, who plays him, does a great job at being this cheery man who jumps around with glee all the time, although THAT ACCENT is quite simply an atrocity, and it is by far the most painful thing about this film, listening to an attempted Cockney accent turn into some weird mix of New York and Bristol…
The best songs that everyone knows, including “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, “A Spoonful Of Sugar” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee” are a lark to listen to, coupled with great dance numbers that don’t go on too long nor too short, and just add to the joy of the whole atmosphere.
On the other hand, this film does have some big faults that prevent it from being the riotous crowd pleaser for all viewers, not just kids. Firstly, some songs do go on a bit too long, with excessively drawn out dance numbers that lengthen the running time and don’t add anything to the story, a weakness in comparison to its major 60s competitors of My Fair Lady, The Sound Of Music and Oliver!.
Also, the story is pretty weak throughout. Yes, it’s a good bit of fun, but over the course of nearly two and a half hours, a story with this little structure and consistency apart from trying to save Mr. Banks from being so cold can get a bit dull to watch, especially when the cheeriness is lost in some of the latter stages.
Overall, however, this film is a very happy, joyful one with great performances, mostly good songs and a lot of fun throughout, despite being occasionally dragging and dull to watch, so that’s why it gets a 7.1 from me.