For artistically (and nostalgically) inclined viewers, a treasure trove of song and emotions...
Starting in 1961 with an inauspicious tune called "Strummin' Song" (from "The Horsemasters"), brothers Robert and Richard Sherman, sons of Russian-Jewish immigrants, became the in-house, go-to songwriters for the Walt Disney Company. They churned out one melodious, deceptively simple ditty after another, until they eventually hit upon Oscar gold with their score from "Mary Poppins". As it turns out, the fabulously talented Shermans are not unlike most siblings: there are rivalries between the two, personality differences which cause them to clash, and they're not really the best of friends. This incredibly moving documentary, directed by the duo's sons, Gregory and Jeff Sherman, was a valiant attempt to get Robert and Richard to reconcile their feelings for one another--and to acknowledge their extensive body of work, which is often unfairly criticized as being sappy or sugary. It may indeed seem a bit of a stretch to compare the Shermans to John Lennon and Paul McCartney...but after hearing such wonderful songs as "Feed the Birds" (Walt's personal favorite), "On the Front Porch" (Robert's favorite), "A Spoonful of Sugar", "Winnie the Pooh", and "It's a Small World", among others, their resume becomes a virtual collection of childhood memories. The Shermans deserved this valentine to their talents as sentimental and romantic songwriters par excellence, and the family story which slowly plays out behind-the-scenes underscores their sunshiny output with realistic melancholy. It is quite an achievement. ***1/2 from ****
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