Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Top 25 Musicals - #6 Mary Poppins

I am in the process of watching all of the Top 25 Musicals according to AFI and reviewing them for my list (

The current film I just watched is Mary Poppins. 

   Mary Poppins is a musical comedy about a magical nanny who interjects herself into a household in order to mend familial problems that abound. Although not the first movie to combine animation with live action, this was likely one of the best earlier efforts to that effect. The scenes where the characters are fully immersed in the cartoon/drawn world actually work pretty well. I love how the live action merry-go-round horses tear up the ground every time the go down as they hop up and down across the scenery. Within the cartoon world, the green screen effects also aren't that bad and the primary actors, Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews do a very good job of convincing us that they are indeed interacting with the cartoons. This leads us to the primary driving force of the movie, which is the main actors. They perform the roles perfectly, becoming almost live action cartoons themselves, with Dick Van Dyke taking the brunt of the cartoonishness. Without these two actors, I don't think this movie would have been a fraction of what it turned out to be. There isn't much else in the movie without them. The movie also contains a surprising amount of women empowerment, especially given the time when it was released. The green screen effects during other parts of the movie, especially when Mary Poppins is removing over-sized items from her bag, are dated and I'm surprised that the studio hasn't attempted to "fix" it with modern techniques. Although the movie contains many memorable songs, many of the songs are just a rehashing of the main songs, like the repetitive reuse of the Chim Chim Cher-ee song throughout the movie. The children in the movie are barely tolerable though and I would greatly appreciate it someone else had been hired. Overall, I would say that the greatest strength of the movie is the interactions of the live action and cartoons, especially given Van Dyke's cartoonish persona adopted through the movie and the often subtle humor interjected throughout. In general, the movie is enjoyable for me, though with limited rewatchability.

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