(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Bedknobs and Broomsticks)
Doug (vo): How do you top something as big as Mary Poppins? Well, getting almost the exact same group together helps. Yeah, the same director, the same song team, some of the same actors. Let’s work in a story that’s very similar. Maybe not a magic nanny, but a witch. And maybe not Julie Andrews, but Angela Lansbury. And maybe not Britain, but...yeah, okay, still Britain...but completely different kids. This resulted in Bedknobs and Broomsticks. What in many respects should’ve been just sort of a lame knockoff trying to recapture the Mary Poppins feeling actually does become its own unique thing. And it’s fun and imaginative and catchy and funny and has...Nazis in it. Yeah, we’ll get to that, but let’s start from the beginning.
Doug (vo): It’s World War II, and a lot of our men are sent to war, which means that a lot of kids have to live in foster homes. So three of them are sent to live with Mrs. Price, who is not onboard with the idea, but the government says that she has no choice. So she takes them in, and eventually, they find out her secret that she is, in fact, a witch. Originally, the kids try to blackmail her with it, but then they remember, "Oh, yeah, she’s a witch", and they decide to play nice. But trouble comes a-brewing when she realizes that the program that she was getting all her spells from is closing down, and just before the most important spell was gonna be sent. You see, she was hoping to use this spell to end the war, but without it, she can’t do a thing. So they use her magic to travel on a bed to the guy who created the program, Professor Browne, who we find out is actually nothing more than a con artist magician. You see, he never actually believed in the magic he was spewing out, he was just doing it to make a quick buck. But when he finds it works for Mrs. Price, money signs appear in his eyes and he decides to take advantage of it, at least, tries to. She keeps trying to get the final piece of this spell to win the war, and he just wants to utilize her to get some money. So, through a ton of traveling and various locations and a bunch of different spells, they go from one magic situation to another magic situation, including bringing objects to life, traveling to an island where the animals rule, and even getting a chance to take down the Nazi army with their final spell.
Doug (vo): So, yeah, let’s talk about that elephant in the room first.
[Scenes from the film's climax are shown]
Doug (vo): The climax of this movie is actually fighting off Nazis, and it’s done in a comedic, fun, over-the-top way. You could make the argument that this is really bad taste in the same way that maybe Hogan’s Heroes is kind of bad taste, but even though it’s clear they’re bad guys, you never really see them do anything that horrible. Even the mission they’re on is more of a training exercise than it is actual killing people. And they’re not made to look super horrible, there’s definitely some comedic moments with them, but, yeah, you could argue that makes it even kind of worse. What? We’re supposed to kind of be laughing with Nazis and showing our kids this? Some sensitivities are definitely gonna be jeopardized here, so just note this is the climax of the movie, and it never gets bloody or gritty, but like I said, some people might take that the wrong way, too.
[Various clips resume showing]
Doug (vo): With that said, the movie is really charming and really entertaining. I always said this is sort of what the Harry Potter movies could’ve been if they wanted to have a little bit more fun with their idea, and not take it so damn seriously. And that’s what this movie does. It has fun, it goes from fun location to fun location, introduces great song after great song, great dance number after great dance number, some great effects. And at the center of it is Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, who are both fantastic. They take these roles so seriously, but not to a point where it’s distracting, it’s to a point where they totally suck you in. Even in scenes where they’re talking with animated characters, it never looks like they’re turning to the camera and winking like, "Yeah, we know this is kind of stupid". You just totally believe they’re really there, because it seems like they really believe they’re really there. I also love how David Tomlinson is sort of this likeable scoundrel. He is a con artist, but at the same time, he’s not a bad guy. And, yeah, we do have to go through that scene where he tries to go away, thinking that the family didn’t get to him and that he doesn’t care, even though you know he’s gonna go back and...yeah, it’s stupid, but you put up with it to get to the fun climax.
[Several song sequences are shown]
Doug (vo): The songs? Fantastic. Again, it’s the Sherman Brothers, some of the best songwriters of all time, and these are some of their best songs.
Mr. Browne and the children: [singing] Portobello Road, Portobello Road, street where the riches of ages are stowed...
Doug (vo): The slapstick when they travel to the island filled with animals is a little long, but I don’t mind, because I love slapstick and this is some good stuff. The timing, the sound effects, it’s all perfect. The climax? Again, depending on your sensitivity to the whole Nazi thing, it’s still frigging awesome. It’s so cool how they can build up this great comedy, but also this great epic size to it. I mean, just look how cool this is seeing all this armor come to life. And listen to that kick-ass chant that they got.
Suits of Armor: Treguna, Mekoidies and Trecorum Satis Dee.
Doug (vo): Like I said, it’s mostly played for laughs, but it’s pretty cool, too.
[The three kids in the film are shown in several shots]
Doug (vo): If I did have a problem with the movie, I would say that the child actors aren’t that great. I mean, the girl does okay, but the two boys are nothing that great. Charlie’s delivery is a little too deadpan, and Paul, oh, man, I don’t even think he’s trying.
Paul: [singing] You can eat like a king in the Portobello Road.
Doug (vo): But, eh, they’re kids, and they’re not really the focus. The focus is on our two main characters, as where it should be.
[Scenes from the film's extended edition are shown]
Doug (vo): Now there is one thing that's really important to note about this movie. If you do see it, make sure you see the original cut. If you get it on DVD, they usually give you the extended, and that’s not the one you want to see. I know a lot of times, I always say, "Oh, they left stuff out and they should put it back in." But when they put it back in in this version, it goes on forever. And this movie is already pretty long. I mean, some parts are okay, like David Tomlinson has a song sequence that was cut out that’s actually kind of fun, there’s one or two moments that are kind of neat to see, but, for example, the "Portobello Road" sequence. In the original, it’s really great. It’s this long kind of party going on with all these different ethnicities and cultures coming together and having a great time, and when it’s done, you’re really sad that it’s done and there’s sort of this emptiness, like the party is over and, oh, you just want it to go on forever. Well, in the other cut, it does go on forever, and ever and ever and ever and...oh, my God, it’ll just never end. There’s a song sequence with Mrs. Price after Professor Browne leaves where she sings about how much she misses him. And, it’s nice, I guess, but is it really needed? Doesn’t it kind of go without saying that she really misses him? Little additions like that can really make it drag on, so I would strongly advise if you are gonna see this film, try to see the original and not the extended cut. Only check that out if you’re curious to see some of the missing scenes, which are neat, but way too long.
Doug (vo): But with that said, I say this is kind of similar to Mary Poppins, even if it does take sort of a different direction that’s more of action-adventure than it is a charming little kids’ story. Hell, you could argue it’s like Mary Poppins with swords. What the hell’s wrong with that? I absolutely love it. I love the story, I love the characters, I love the performances, I love the songs, I love it all. It’s an awesome adventure that’s definitely worth checking out.
[A scene showing the suits of armor coming to life for the first time as the main characters watch with pride is shown]