For the majority of my life I have straight up ignored what many critics call ‘classic Disney’ movies. With the exception of Bambi, I had never fallen in love with any Disney film that was made before 1991.
But lately, I have made an effort to watch the golden oldies from Disney and the majority of the time I have been left utterly awe-struck.
My wife bought me Cinderella for my last birthday, at the time I thought this was a bizarre gift – what the hell was she trying to say? But when I sat down to watch the film, I fell head-over-heels in love, to the point where I consider the song ‘So this is love’ to be in my top 5 Disney songs of all time.
It was only when I got around to watching Mary Poppins that I truly appreciated the magic of ‘classic Disney’. I should hate everything about Mary Poppins – and even before watching the film, I convinced myself I did. Maybe it was the much lambasted Dick Van Dyke English accent or maybe it was the thought of Julie Andrews in any other role than that of Maria Von Trapp – I hated it and there was nothing or no one that could tell me different.
The problem is, the film is extraordinary.
Yes, Dyke’s accent is off-putting at first but you slowly get used to his absurd accent and it somehow adds to the charm of the film. The accent doesn’t take away from the fact that Dyke is a very dope entertainer and has palpable chemistry with Julia Andrews.
Speaking of Julia Andrews, It is impossible to overstate how wonderful she is in this film. Her performance as Mary Poppins rivals that of Sister Maria in The Sound of Music – it is a revelation for me to say that because I love everything about her performance in that film. Dame Andrews performance in The Sound of Music is vulnerable and emotive, but what you have in Mary Poppins is a more assured and confident character which is just as powerful.
The true thrill of Mary Poppins is the scale and ambition of the film. The then ground breaking special effects still work well today – whether that be the nannies being blown away down the street or the stop motion set piece in the playroom scene.
The street paint scene is where this film completely floors me. There is utter joy in the way the film manages to marry live-action with animation and I sat on my sofa just grinning through it all – and that is the magic of Disney. I am a 27 year old, grown ass man and I am laughing and grinning to a film that was made for children – and I really don’t care what people think of me. This film made me feel like I was 7 years old and for a film to make you feel that way makes it very special indeed.
Mary Poppins feels like the ‘classic Disney’ prototype. You can tell that modern Disney films, such as Enchanted, have borrowed massively from Mary Poppins and there is nothing wrong with that.
My only regret is that I waited so long to give this film a fair shot.