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BY Steven D. Greydanus
Mary Poppins (1964) - Pick
The Lucky Ones (2008) - Pass
Why is Disney
marking the 45th anniversary of Mary Poppins with a new
two-disc special edition DVD when the comparable 40th anniversary edition is
still available? Wouldn’t a Blu-ray release make more sense?
Whether the new edition or the older
one, Mary Poppins’ magic remains potent enough
to enthrall its legions of fans with its energetic song and dance, pleasing
blend of animation and live action, anarchic nonsense, and the vibrant,
slightly unsettling presence of Julie Andrews’ uncanny nanny.
Is there anyone who doesn’t love Mary
yes. I have to admit I’m in the curmudgeonly minority on this one — but don’t
let that stop your family from enjoying it. I know a hopeless cause
when I see it.
I like Mary Poppins herself just fine, arriving by magic umbrella to turn the
heart of the father toward his children — and to get the children mothered by
their mother again instead of by a nanny. I like most of the movie, too.
I don’t like is the distracting political subtexts — no, I’m not kidding —
running through the film. It’s not what the movie has to say, if you can get to the
bottom of it. (Does Mary
Poppins affirm suffragettes or
satirize them?) It’s that it’s saying it at all.
me Dick Van Dyke — much-abused Cockney accent and all — dancing with animated
penguins and stepping in time on London rooftops, give me Julie Andrews glaring
in exasperation at a helplessly hysterical, levitating Ed Wynn, and I’m happy.
new on DVD this week, Neil Burger’s The Lucky
Ones is a not quite successful
attempt to blend the indie road-movie crass-comedy milieu of Little Miss Sunshine and Sideways with the Iraqi War genre.
McAdams, Tim Robbins and Michael Peña play a trio of wounded veterans returning
stateside who wind up together on a cross-country road trip of self-discovery.
the filmmakers seem to not understand their own characters much better than do
the civilians they encounter.
returns home to a domestic crisis that’s as unconvincing as it is painful, and
McAdams’s Southern-fried fundamentalist religiosity is an implausible blend of
fire-and-brimstone judgmentalism and uninhibited sexual frankness. Both
situations involve characters behaving in ways that suggest mental illness, but
the movie seems not to mean it that way.
best I can say about The Lucky
Ones is that — despite the
presence of famously liberal Robbins — it’s not political, and it seems to be
sincerely appreciative of our armed forces.
it’s too shallow and too crass to really recommend.
New this week
on Blu-ray: The Bourne Trilogy
(2002–2007, mature viewing); Groundhog Day (1993, teens and up).
CONTENT ADVISORY: Mary Poppins: Nothing objectionable. Fine family viewing. The Lucky Ones: Some profanity; crude and/or sexually explicit
dialogue; sexual situations; a roadside bombing and a brief barroom scuffle.