In Edwardian London a magical nanny teaches two slightly naughty children to make life enjoyable for themselves and others.
The stage version is packing them in down the West End, Mary Poppins is finally dusting off its heritage as TV schedule filler and reminding audiences, just in time for its 40th anniversary, why itís one of Disneyís greats. As the winner of five Oscars and the film that gave Julie Andrews her on-screen debut, this shouldnít really need much of a fanfare, but one too many jokes about Dick Van Dyke's dire Cawk-nee accent can drag a movie down.
The exploits of novelist P. L. Travers' nanny sparkle thanks to the Sherman brothers' songs (from the haunting Feed The Birds to the rousing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious) and multi-talented leads. Poppinsí arrival from the clouds to shape up the lives of the Banks family is still magical, and the animated sequence so hated by Travers remains a real winner with ankle-biters. But the film's also overlong and drags both at the beginning (it's more than 20 minutes before Andrews shows up) and the end.
Completists may prefer to view it in its entirety, but watch it on DVD and make judicious use of the 'skip' button and with a little home editing you can edge this movie up to the five-star rating it could so easily have earned.