Review: The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story DVD

The Boys DVD boxSTUDIO: Disney | DIRECTOR: Gregory V. Sherman, Jeff Sherman
RELEASE DATE: 11/30/10 | PRICE: DVD $29.99
BONUSES: featurettes, interviews, musical jukebox, more
SPECS: PG | 101 min. | Documentary | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Poignant and surprisingly candid, documentary The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story examines the lives and careers of Disney songwriters extraordinaire Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, while offering a tune-filled behind-the-scenes survey of cinema history in action.

The Shermans are the siblings who won two Oscars for Mary Poppins and penned the tunes for The Jungle Book (except for “The Bear Necessities”), The Aristocats, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, as well as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Charlotte’s Web. Oh, and don’t forget the theme park anthems “It’s a Small World” and “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room.”

Directed by two of the brothers’ sons, The Boys shows that although their songs were often sunny, the siblings themselves experienced a stormy relationship and didn’t speak to each other for several years.

The yin and yang of the duo, whose father was Tin Pin alley songwriter Al Sherman, is made apparent via interviews and archival footage of most of the important people in their lives, starting with the older, dour Robert and the younger, outgoing Richard. They openly discuss their childhood, their families, their careers and their thorny on-again-off-again collaboration.

We also hear from actors Julie Andrews (Sound of Music), Dick Van Dyke (Mary Poppins) and Hayley Mills (1961 The Parent Trap), producer Barbara Broccoli (Casino Royale), composer Randy Newman (Toy Story 3) and several Disney associates from the past and present. Home movies, extensive film clips and great archival footage help round out this bittersweet portrait of the artists as bickering brothers.

Ultimately, the film asks us to overlook all of the politics and in-fighting and remember the team — who are still alive and in their 80s — for their music, which has enchanted generations of movie fans. And with the evidence offered in the documentary, that won’t be too tough.

The DVD is loaded with great special features, including featurettes on different Sherman Brothers projects, artwork from painter Bob (it’s a passion of his) and Disney Studios and a jukebox that plays a collection of Sherman Brothers songs and reveals the stories behind them. So this is fans’ big chance to get the lowdown on “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

 

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.