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Mary Poppins (1964)

Its supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Directed by:

Robert Stevenson

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 140 minutes

US Certificate: G UK Certificate: U

On DVD

Country: United States

Is there anyone out there who hasn’t seen ‘Mary Poppins’ at least once? It must be one of the most watched and – more importantly – best-loved films of all time, a deserved staple of the Christmas holiday TV schedules and still as enjoyable today as it was upon its theatrical release 40 years ago. And it’s that 40 year watermark which is being celebrated in this long-awaited Special Edition DVD release. Sure, ol’ Poppers has been available on DVD in the past, but here she’s finally being given the all-singing, all-dancing package she deserves: two discs, a host of extra features, the whole shebang.

For those of you who’ve somehow managed to avoid catching this timeless classic up until now, here’s a brief rundown of what it’s about. It’s London, 1910, and a well-to-do mum and dad (David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns) are too busy singing/campaigning for women’s rights/both to notice that their two sprogs Jane and Michael (Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber) are turning into a pair of tearaways. Oh alright, so they’re not exactly dealing drugs and mugging grannies (let’s face it, this IS a Disney flick), but they HAVE made a bit of a mess of their bedrooms, which is apparently enough to have nanny Katie (Elsa Lanchester) downing tools and leaving them in the lurch.

No sooner have the fam placed an advert for a new nanny, than Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) flies onto the scene (literally – she uses an umbrella to whisk her about town) to take the gig. Before long, Mary and the ankle-biters have teamed up with multi-talented musician-singer-songwriter-artist-dancer-chimneysweep Bert (Dick Van Dyke) to get up to all sorts of magical mischief.

Based on the kiddies’ books by P.L. Travers, this is 140 minutes of pure, solid, family fun. Okay, so it has its faults: some of director Robert Stevenson’s direction isn’t as well-paced as it could have been; it’s never explained how this woman managed to master rudimentary aeronautics using nothing more than a brolly; Van Dyke’s Cockney accent is pipped to the awful-post only by Don Cheadle’s in Ocean’s Eleven and Jamie Oliver’s in, er, real life. But how can anyone dislike ‘Mary Poppins’? Not only are the visuals still surprisingly fresh (when you think about it, this must have been seen as a bit of a special effects bonanza when it was first released back in 1964), but Andrews and Van Dyke are both superb and there’s some terrific music from the Sherman brothers. Throw in some dancing penguins and the only thing left to say about it is – in the words of Paul Daniels – that’s magic!!

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It's Got: A jolly holiday.

It Needs: Votes for women! (Step in time).

DVD Extras There’s plenty here to keep the young ‘uns amused long after the movie bit’s over, with a karaoke-style sing-a-long, audio commentary from Andrews and Van Dyke, reminiscing cast members, pop-up facts, a deleted song called ‘Chimpanzoo’, a musical reunion with the cast, ‘I Love to Laugh’ set-top game, a behind-the-scenes featurette, and a semi-decent bonus animated short titled ‘The Cat That Looked at a King’. Version Reviewed: Mary Poppins (40th Anniversary Edition) also from Amazon.com DVD Extras Rating: 9/10

Alternatives:

Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Summary

If Poppers herself was to describe the film, she’d probably call it “practically perfect in every way.” They don’t get much more timeless than this.

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