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Sunday, December 26, 2010

THE BOYS (2009)

File under: Who Knew? It turns out that the Sherman Brothers, Robert & Richard, our eponymous ‘boys,’ best known for MARY POPPINS/’64 and many other family-friendly scores & stand-alone songs from the ‘60s & ‘70s, barely spoke to each other or even met away from the office. This loving, understanding and slightly weird documentary was jointly made by two sons, one from each Sherman; first-cousins who lived blocks apart, yet never met. It’s a great set-up for all kinds of personal & cultural history, especially as the Shermans were unusually close to Uncle Walt, himself. Alas, the film is put together in such a conventional fashion that even when it broaches dark topics, it still reeks of corporate Disney-think with commentators who speak in blathering sound-bites, encomiums & overkill. (At one point, composer John Williams puts their Dad, pop songsmith Al Sherman, right alongside Aaron Copland & George Gershwin. Oy!) It’s a step up from one of those DVD-Extras where a hot actor or director with a current movie to plug, and little connection to the subject, says something inane about ‘Fill-In-The-Blank,’ but only a step up. And with the Boys alive to query, why not ask if Walt knew about their estrangement or what the brothers thought when a great assignment like POPPINS was followed by an utter dog like THE HAPPIEST MILLIONAIRE/’67? (That poster alone is enough to give you the heebie-jeebies.)

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For a look at two incompatible writing partners, try the marvelous Gilbert & Sullivan bio-pic TOPSY-TURVY/'99.

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