Practically Perfect in Every Way
There are certain movies which when you see appear on the TV schedule you groan because they always seem to be on. "Mary Poppins" is one of those movies because when ever a bank holiday arrives it always seems to pop up on TV. But ironically whilst you may groan somehow you still end up catching a few minutes and enjoying it. The simple reason for that is that "Mary Poppins" is a very entertaining movie, a musical which thanks to its memorable songs and strong streak of comedy has become a favourite of many having become part of many people's childhood memories. And whilst "Mary Poppins" maybe now 50 years old it is as enjoyable now as when the first time you saw it and laughed at Dick Van Dyke's cockney accent.
Mr. & Mrs. Banks (David Tomlinson & Glynis Johns) are busy people and are in need of a new nanny when Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews - The Princess Diaries) literally flies in to come to their rescue, or at least the rescue of their children Jane & Michael (Karen Dotrice & Matthew Garber - The Gnome-Mobile) who's advert it is she answers. But Jane and Michael are in for a surprise because Mary Poppins has magical powers and along with her friend Bert (Dick Van Dyke - Bye Bye Birdie) takes the children on a variety of magical adventures from jumping into paintings to meeting Uncle Albert (Ed Wynn) who loves to laugh.
Of course many people will know what "Mary Poppins" is about and in reality it's a rather slim story, yes I did say slim. The reason being is that whilst everything revolves around the arrival of super nanny Mary Poppins at the Banks's residence it is a movie of almost set pieces. Get the set up and introductions out of the way and the first set piece is the adventure which Mary, Bert, Jane and Michael take into one of his chalk drawings. The second is when they visit Uncle Albert who loves to laugh and it ends up with a double set piece around the bank which combines with a song and dance on the roof tops. But whilst being built around these set pieces the stories flow together with Mr. Banks learning what is important by the end of the movie.
The thing is, is that "Mary Poppins" is very much a family musical and so the slim storyline built around these amusing set pieces is never an issue. And the reason why it's never an issue is because each one works brilliantly delivering a blend of comedy and song which makes it memorable. So enjoyable are the musical scenes that you only need to hear the opening chords or a couple of lines from a song and you know it immediately be it "Chim-Chim-Cheree", "A Spoonful of Sugar" or the iconic "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". And all these wonderful songs have a great energy thanks to the various dance routines which accompany them with Dick Van Dyke showing what a talented dancer he was especially during the song and dance scene through the roof tops.
But as well as being memorable for the musical scenes, "Mary Poppins" is also wonderfully amusing. The whole adventure into the picture with live action blending with animation is full of comedy as are the scenes where they visit Uncle Albert. But it is almost the little moments such as the introduction to Mary as she sits on a cloud having to keep on pulling her bag up as it slowly sinks through the cloud wich make the movie. And then there is the bag itself as Mary wows Jane and Michael as she pulls a whole range of things from it including a full size coat stand. It all makes you smile, be it the big set pieces or something small such as when Dick Van Dyke, playing Mr. Dawes Senior struggles to get down a step in the bank.
Now this may be wrong for me to say but there is something strangely sexy about Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins. It's down to the dark hair, blue eyes and red lips which often break into an amazing smile but she is sexy. Anyway beyond that Andrews also does an absolutely brilliant job delivering this fun loving but also authoritative nanny perfectly, never playing it for laughs but still managing to do just that, making us laugh. Plus of course with such a brilliant voice every single song she sings is just magical.
Then there is Dick Van Dyke who not only plays Bert but also the old bank owner Mr. Dawes Senior and whilst you have to say that Dick Van Dyke's cockney accent is terrible in a way it makes "Mary Poppins" the fun movie that it is, or at least with out it "Mary Poppins" wouldn't be "Mary Poppins". Despite this Dick Van Dyke is on fire throughout delivering brilliant song and dance numbers all with a great deal of slapstick perfectly. So much so that in many ways it is the pairing of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke which make "Mary Poppins" the great movie that it is. That's not to say the rest of the cast are useless because David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns as Mr. & Mrs. Banks along with Karen Dotrice and Matthew Garber as Jane & Michael are just as good but it is the comedy and brilliant singing of Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke which is what "Mary Poppins" is known for.
What this all boils down to is that no matter how many times "Mary Poppins" gets shown on TV it always remains a joy to watch. From the memorable songs, the wonderful singing of Julie Andrews through to the comedy and dancing of Dick Van Dyke it works. And despite having had its 50th anniversary "Mary Poppins" has still got what it takes to become a favourite of a new generation of young children.