Daniel Holford’s review published on Letterboxd:
“We're all going to Downing Street to throw things at the Prime Minister."
One of those classics that I missed as a child (blame my parents for having bad film tastes), and a first time watch at 25, it sadly didn’t impress much at all. Without the nostalgia filter I feel like the film lacks a certain something that would make me think it’s a great classic. There’s a lot I really liked but also a fair amount that I wasn’t overly keen on.
The first half does manage to capture a sense of childlike wonder and magic, the introduction of Mary Poppins and the songs here are all great, creating a great magical wonder. The animation segment with the live action actors really works too, it mostly looks impressive and there’s a real sense of adventure in those moments.
However it’s the second half I wasn’t as keen on, at nearly two and half hours the run time does feel too long. The plot starts to feel meandering, moving from segment to segment without much connection. Sure, there’s lessons learnt for the two children in each moment, but as a narrative it doesn’t quite work until the end where there is at least a somewhat satisfying payoff. Some of the characters are far less interesting than Poppins and Bert, and when the film shifts its narrative focus onto these, I found myself becoming uninterested. There’s a nice message overall with the father, but his moments never really felt overly compelling to view.
Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins is great, she really personifies this mystery but really likeable nanny. She performs her songs fantastically, and is always charming in each and every scene. The magic feeling like it’s just part of her performance, a character that any child would love to meet. Dick Van Dyke, while creating a likeable character with Bert, has a rather subpar ‘London’ accent that is so noticeable throughout that it becomes rather distracting, no matter how much fun Bert as a character is at times. The rest of the cast are fine, the kids manage to at least capture some of the sense of wonder at what is happening.
Other than the main iconic songs that everyone knows and loves, the others felt a little forgettable and create far less interesting set pieces as the film goes on. Some of the songs don’t feel as catchy or as fun as the major songs, and I never really felt myself totally interested in the set pieces created around them.
It’s a film that I found a lot to like, and that stuff is really great. But it’s let down by its long length and meandering plot, some great songs mixed with less interesting ones creates a slightly sluggish movie. One of those classics that unfortunately just didn’t work for me.