I guess that brings me back to why I just flat out did not like this movie. It feels so crushingly old-fashioned. Consider that West Side Story had come out just three years prior and maybe you can see what I mean. That one is so vibrantly constructed and beats with a modern heart. Mary Poppins, for all of its technological advances, just reeks of mothballs. I know many consider the film to be a lighter than air confection, but I found its dottering and fluttering to be nigh on insufferable. I mean, it certainly doesn't help that Julie Andrews is the only one I could stand to listen to - it's undeniable that she has a pretty voice, yes - but I really struggled to watch this movie without sighing every time an unnecessary song that goes on far too long came on. Cutesy kids alert at red, folks. Eep!
The one aspect other than Andrews that I enjoyed was just how very odd the whole enterprise is. I don't just mean in that characters go about doing odd things, but that the film itself finds itself throwing some truly odd stuff out there in what was probably conceived as a rather innocuous children's flick (upcoming Saving Mr Banks will certainly show us what's what, right? Ummm... maybe not). When it came to selecting a shot I considered the moment the flowers become butterflies in the famous animated sequence (above), or something from Dick Van Dyke's rooftop dancing sequence with the fireworks since there was some beautiful matte work there, or his foggy exit, or even one of the ridiculous shots of nanny's flying away down the street (did nobody find that odd?) No, my "best shot" is one actually from the very beginning of the movie as the camera pans across the London skies and spots Mary Poppins sitting atop the clouds. I found it quite odd, but that's a good thing.
It's a moment that genuinely surprised me. And for a film that didn't do all that much surprising to me in its following two hours and twenty minutes, I figured that was worth celebrating. It's just a supremely strange moment that comes unexpectedly and comes rather peacefully, uncluttered by everything including the kitchen sink that the rest of the film seems determined to throw at the screen. Looking at it just now and it's a rather beautiful image in its own right, and one that looks as if it carries a certain sadness without its cheerful chim-chim-cheree on the soundtrack. I wish the rest of the film was able to make me actually feel something other than painful contempt. I am not surprised in the least that the creator of the Mary Poppins character hated the film.
If you ask me, the best thing this film wrought was the infamous "Scary Mary" recut trailer that reposits the film as an suspenceful horror flick about a vengeful nanny with mystical powers. I'd long enjoyed the video, but now having seen the movie it's based on I can guarantee that it'd be a helluva lot more interesting. Especially since, as the video suggests as well as the aforementioned odd moments, there's a completely different movie going on in there and I want to see it.