Two words I bet you never thought you'd never hear to describe the documentary The Boys: HOLY FUCK

About a week ago on CBC Radio 1 (I believe on Q, but I can't really remember) I heard an interview with two guys, Greg and Jeff Sherman. They were talking about a documentary they made about their fathers Bob and Dick Sherman, who wrote pretty much every song in every Disney movie during the late 60s/early 70s. I was starting to fall asleep during this interview, so all I really took from it was that it was 100 minutes about the guys who wrote It's A Small World. Later in the week I remembered that interview and thought "let's check what my good friends over at The Onion AV Club thought of it". Turns out they, and pretty much every other movie critic loved it, so on Friday night I crawled up to Yonge and Dundas Square (Toronto's shitty version of Times Square) and bought a ticket to see The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story.

Holy Fuck.

This was seriously the best movie I have seen in a long-ass time (and I saw The Hurt Locker, friends). This is a near-perfect film. I cried about 4 times during it, and left the theatre feeling really sad. These guys wrote some of the best movie songs of the 20th Century...wait, no, scratch that. Some of the best songs, period. But overall, it's an amazing story about two brothers who are super different, not friends at all, didn't speak to each other outside of work. Also they were bffs with Walt Disney and there is some BEYOND adorable footage of him in the film too (sidebar - can I get on a soapbox for a second? To all the people who talk about Disney being a multi-billion dollar evil corporation: go see The Boys. I think this movie was made for you. To remind you that you are a smug prick, yes, exactly).

Maybe I'm biased about The Boys: my favourite era of Disney films is definitely the late 60's/early 70's, when the films were really story-driven: One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Fox and the Hound, The Rescuers, The Aristocats, Robin Hood. It just seems that eveything before that was very Princess-driven (aka Life sucks till you find a rich man) and stuff after was very slick (slick, but good - I won't hate on Beauty and the Beast or The Little Mermaid, which kick so much ass. Did I just say that The Little Mermaid kicks ass? Ugh, I think I did. Someone hand me an Ed Hardy du-rag to mop up my rediculousness).

Anyways, here are a few songs from the Sherman brothers' catalogue that are amazing and really adorable:

"Mother Earth and Father Time"
- Charlotte's Web
Quick fact: after Disney died, the Shermans started to hate Disney a bit so they left and went out to other studios. They scored Charlotte's Web, which is a great movie if you have never seen it. Also, I'm of course referring to the 1970s animated one and not the 2007 one with Dakota Fanning (lame). Anywhogivesashit, I LOVE this song; so much so that I would love to have it played at my wedding. This is the song Charlotte sings to Wilbur right before she dies. OUCH. My baboon heart - she hurts just thinking about it! I couldn't find the original from the movie, so instead please enjoy this crappy collage of fat-college-girl pictures of fairies and nature and shit.

"Feed the Birds"
- Mary Poppins
In the film they talk about Mary Poppins a lot - it was their most successful score - but I learned that Disney's favourite song (of any Disney song) was Feed the Birds. Oh. My. God. Could you pick a more depressing song to have as your favourite? Walt Disney was goth before goth was goth. Sidebar - Feed the Birds is a really beautiful song.

"Hushabye Mountain"
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Oh hello, it's another amazing lullabye, courtesy of the Sherman brothers. I wanted to post this song as well to compare to Feed the Birds. They're essentially the same song, right? Well...yes and no. There's something inherently depressing about this one. Where Feed the Birds has a sort of positive, storytelling element to it, Hushabye Mountain is sort of bleak and hopeless. Am I being smart? Oh shit, I think I am. I better move on before this shit becomes a thesis paper.

"Let's Get Together"
- The Parent Trap
Okay, this song wouldn't be nearly as cute if it weren't sung by Haley Mills (aka Miss Bliss!) but this song still works. Also, how cute is The Parent Trap?? I need to start basing a lot more of my clothing style off that movie.

"Heffalumps and Woozles"
- Winnie the Pooh
Two words: FUCKING. SCARY. This song really freaked me out when I was little (I'm sure I'm not the only one). But now that I watch it 20 years later...it's actually pretty tame. Something else I learned? A Heffalump is an elephant, and a Woozle is a weasel. I'm slow.

"Everbody wants to be a cat"
- The Aristocats
TELL ME THIS SONG ISN'T AMAZING. Do it. I'll wait. If you can look past the very (ahem) gentle stereotyping of characters, you can see that it is a fantastic song. How can you argue with lyrics like:
Everybody wants to be a cat
Because a cats the only cat
Who knows where it's at

"Scales and Arpeggios"
- The Aristocats
This is just adroable.

"I wanna be like you"
- The Jungle Book
Find a kid out there who doesn't know this song. Exactly.

"Up Down / Little Black Raincloud"
- Winnie the Pooh
This is what I like most about the Sherman brothers: they were terrific at making sad lullabies (Feed the Birds, Hushabye Mountain), upbeat danceables (I wanna be like you, Higitus Figitus), and then sweet little short songs (Scales and Arpeggios). The work they did for the Winnie the Pooh series is just that: perfect, short little sweet songs. Little Black Raincloud is just too precious.

"Substitutiary Locomotion"
- Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Love love love this movie and everything about the songs in it too, but this song sticks out to me. I think it may be the same reason I like Let's Get Together: the person singing it. Who doesn't hate Angela Lansbury?? Who? A soulless bastard, that's who. I also like it because it seems like a b-side from Mary Poppins.

"Higitus Figitus"
- The Sword in the Stone
This was one of my FAVOURITE movies when I was a little girl. Yes, I said girl. I think all kids could related to Arthur: he was awkward, 12-years-old, not sure of himself. I really do weep when I think that The Sword in the Stone was replaced by High School Musical. Ugh.

"Me Ole Bamboo"
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Without this song, we wouldn't have the song below. They are both near-perfect songs.

"A Bag of Weed"
- Family Guy

Conclusion: get out there and see The Boys as soon as you can. It's really terrific and way less of a waste of money than The Time Travellers Wife. Plus, the film is filled with great interviews by Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Ben Stiller, Roy Disney, Jonathan Landis, Leonard Maltin, etc etc, why am I convincing you? Go out and watch it!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nostaglia trip Mayor! Don't sell yourself short on the 'thesis-paper' stuff. I like your insights.

One of the great things about that era of Disney movies is how much dark material they contained. Like the dad getting his ass fired in Mary Poppins (creepy!), or the aforementioned "Heffalumps and Woozles" (which also scared the shit out of me and lead me to believe at the time that getting drunk was essentially like dropping the brown acid at Woodstock).

The Mayor said...

Yes! Mary Poppins had some sad-ass stuff - the dad getting fired, Bert's lonely old-man uncle.

And speaking of Heffalumps and Woozels, know what else scared me off the good shit? Pink Elephants from Dumbo!

Anonymous said...

Mayer youre post was funny!
I have one complaint though, Walt Disney was a very bad racist and I don't think - although the movies were funny as kids - we should be supporting them as mature adults.
Just a thought ;)

The Mayor said...

Well thanks, Anonymous #2, but let's clear some stuff up, shall we?

1. There is no such thing as a "very bad racist": either you are a racist (bad) or not (good). There are no very good racists.

2. Are you arguing that it's ok to promote racism to children, but to protest it as adult? That's backwards.

3. Walt Disney, while being a product of an era where racism was standard behavior, was not, in fact, a 'racist' (per se). The main target market/viewership of Disney films were wasps, therefore he catered to them. Is Bollywood racist because there is a lack of white or black characters? No, absolutely not.

4. Please see the following Cracked.com article for my next comment (http://www.cracked.com/article_15677_9-most-racist-disney-characters.html).
Are these characters racist? Yes and no. Are they offensive? Yes. Are they very outdated stereotypes? Yes. If you viewed them at the time they were produced, would you be offended? Probably not. What was old-hat in the 40s is now stale and backwards. But let's think of it this way for a second: in 30 years, will we look back on the way we portray gay characters in mainstram media with shame? I think so. What about people from the south? Are all of them inbreeding, uneducated christians? And hell - don't get me started on how Muslims are portrayed on TV.

So, was Walt Disney a "very bad racist"? No, he wasn't. Did I just bust your myth? Yes, I did - don't spell my name wrong and I wont serve your ass!

Ellie's rep. said...

Great post Mayor....I want to see this movie now!

Re: 3rd comment. This post is a doc. review of the Sherman brothers, their musical legacy from Disney AND non-Disney movies i.e.Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It's not about Walt Disney per se.

However, your complaint about Walt Disney being a "very bad racist" and therefore we as mature adults shouldn't support the films now is puzzling. Dare I say that EVERY white person from that time was racist...Walt Disney was just one of them. That WAS (and for some)still is America! Some of his characters that he created were racist, however given his place and time in history it would be unfortunate to focus only on a few characters and forget the whole body of his work. If you feel you can't support his work, that's your p.o.v. Despite the racist overtones of SOME of his movies, I'll continue to laugh,cry and sing my way through them all!

His imagination was undeniable, his movies legendary partly so by the moving music by the talented Sherman Brothers!

The Mayor said...

Thanks v much, Ellie's Rep. I agree with you completely - Walt Disney was as much a racist as your grandparents or old school teachers or whatever.

People love to remember the bad shit after someone dies. Not sure why.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RodgerJames said...

i love that you found 'me ole bamboo' on youtube. =)

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