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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.


Steve Expounded Thusly:

No, thanks for the review! After seeing how they mangled The Haunted Masion at Disneyland Paris, it does not surprise me that they mangled the subtleties of Mary Poppins for the stage.

“Like a hack pianist with a fake book, they’re hitting the right notes, but they lack any feeling.” Excellent. I will now go post this comment in the Star Wars thread! (No, I won’t.)

I have been putting off watching the DVD of Mary Poppins, but I need to hunker down and watch it. I love that movie, and I think I’ll love it more when I see it again.

Friday, February 4th, 2005 • 11:09am • Permalink

Rodney Expounded Thusly:

Yes – thank you for the review. Since the 40th Anniversery of the film I have been reading up on PL Travers and the original Poppins books. Travers would be aghast at the new “profits” message and I wouldn’t blame her. Seems to be all anyone cares about these days. The review was well thought out. I am glad to have a chance to read it. I wonder how Chitty Chitty Bang Bang transferred to the stage? BTW, Steve, I stayed out of your relationship issues post since I am not an actual physical person you know, but am just a strange non-corporeal visitor. But I admire your desire not to hurt someone and to live honestly.

Friday, February 4th, 2005 • 2:52pm • Permalink

Johnnie (as they write it here) Expounded Thusly:

This is the first I have heard that Steve and Rodney have ever met. Really?!

I am still so disappointed by my Poppins experience. I didn’t even mention the “Temper, Temper” musical number that has been added, where the rag dolls come to life, and take Jane and Michael to “doll court” for losing their temper. One of them had a peculiarly large, um, crotch region. So that at least gave me something to ponder.

Remember the Satan’s Alley sequence in Staying Alive? It was akin to that.

Or that the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious number now takes place in the store of a fat Jamaican Cockney woman who sells “conversation.”

Nor did I mention that, sadly, Richard and Robert Sherman’s work has been worked over and picked over to the point it is barely recognizeable.

But I have now. Sadly.

Friday, February 4th, 2005 • 5:24pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

It sounds atrocious. Superdumbrediculameassdubiousatrocious, in fact. I hope I get to see it for free some day and not have to pay for it!

Oh, and, yes, I have no idea who Rodney really is! Isn’t that fun? But I’m glad he’s here…


Friday, February 4th, 2005 • 8:20pm • Permalink

Rodney Expounded Thusly:

Thank you, Steve, for writing you are glad I am here. It is true, we have never met. I am in Kentucky and stumbled across the site and very much enjoyed the humor – especially “Yellow Guy” (I think was the title). Plus, where else can I hear from grown men who still love Mary Poppins and Bewitched.

Saturday, February 5th, 2005 • 5:22pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Oh, Kentucky! I remember you saying that once before, but I forgot. Swell. Thanks for the compliment. Now if only I had more time to create some more “real” web pages!

Monday, February 7th, 2005 • 12:21pm • Permalink

J Expounded Thusly:

Rodney just likes looking at “Steve’s Ass.”

Monday, February 7th, 2005 • 6:16pm • Permalink

Rodney Expounded Thusly:

True, true…

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005 • 1:11pm • Permalink

Steve (sans Ass) Expounded Thusly:

Woah! How did I miss THIS little exchange????

Though the ass is furry and cute!

Friday, February 11th, 2005 • 8:08pm • Permalink

John Expounded Thusly:

But no doubt it’s tired of being ridden so much.

Man, did you set yourself up for that one, or what?

Friday, February 18th, 2005 • 12:29am • Permalink


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