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Exit ArchiveArchive for February 3rd, 2005

“The food and wine at this place any good?”

“Nah, not really. Just fair.”

It happened tonight. I saw Mary Poppins.

And I hated it.

In Disney-speak, it has no magic. No sparkle. No effervescence and joy. It looks ugly, in shades of black-and-white and brown and beige. Like a hack pianist with a fake book, they’re hitting the right notes, but they lack any feeling.

Keep in mind, I think the movie — especially having seen it again recently — is just about close to perfection. It may ascend to a spot in my top five films of all time. It is glorious.

The musical sits there like a lump, trying to create charm but succeeding only in making you wonder why they chose these particular actors. The one who plays Mary is indeed delightful, and almost manages to make you forget Julie Andrews. Not quite, but that’s a nearly impossible order to fill.

The kids are irritating. The father and mother charmless over-emoters. Bert has no life. Authentic Cockney accent, yes, but give me Dick van Dyke mangling it any day over this.

The movie weaves the story arc of Mr. Banks throughout with subtlety and restraint; the musical hits you over the head with it: This man needs to change and love his family!

Not unsurprisingly for modern-day Disney, the central tension of Michael inadvertantly causing the bank to come to the brink of ruin — with Mr. Banks wholly unresponsible but needing to accept the blame quite unfairly — is tossed out the window. Instead, the story turns on a decision Banks makes that causes the bank to lose money … and the redemption comes when the bank comes to the happy conclusion that due to Banks’s judgment, it has turned an enormous profit. A melancholy life lesson gets turned into the message Disney so clearly believes these days: Profits are what matter. As George Banks would say, that’s quite a bitter pill to take.

The Jolly Holiday and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious numbers are supposed to be rousing — and the audience was most certainly appreciative. But they lack the color, spark and wit of the film.

It’s discussed throughout the program that the musical’s creators used the source novels as much as the movie for inspiration. If that’s true, I wonder why the novels were ever popular, because this musical is a plodding, dull affair with an unhappy core. I’m so very disappointed.

Sorry, Steve, for not addressing any of the issues you’re facing with this post — but I just had to get this off of my chest.