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January 4, 2011
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story (2009)
I grew up being spoon-fed the musical. And like any normal Disney-loving little girl, I grew up watching my favorite characters sing and dance to the music of the Sherman brothers, although I had no idea who they were at the time. I fact, I had no idea who they were until I heard about this movie, because I never bothered to wonder who wrote the favorite songs of my childhood. As it turns out, Robert and Richard Sherman seem to have written just about every song in the book; from Mary Poppins to Parent Trap to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, they wrote the songs.
What's interesting, as we learn in this documentary about the brothers, is that they didn't get along so well. In fact, they felt so different from each other that they raised their families apart from each other even though they lived near each other and worked with one another every day at the Disney Studios.
The movie is made by the sons of these two men, in an attempt to trace the origins of the rift between them, but I'm not sure it ever fully gets there. We see how they had different passions and personalities, and how one's experience in World War II changed him forever, but all the time, it still feels as if there had to be some key event or argument underneath it all. Their strangely connected yet alienated lives are a mystery, even after watching the movie. Perhaps they simply saw enough of each other in the work room and needed to get away from each other after hours, but that still dissent explain why their families weren't allowed to interact with each other.
At any rate, the movie goes on to explore what their creative process was like. I found it fascinating to hear the behind-the-scenes stories from the authors themselves, as they explained how they came up with ideas for their most famous songs. I also loved hearing about Walt Disney and their memories of him.
One thing I really appreciated about The Boys was how much of the documentary was made up of interviews with the brothers themselves. These interviews led to some very sweet memories and touching moments; I'm sorry that at some points, they stopped sharing because the subject was too persona for them.
All in all, the instant I knew about this movie, I knew it was meant for me. It was a nostalgic and interesting look at the men who brought joy into so many people's lives with their music, and a sad reminder that we don't all get to have happy fairytale endings. Perhaps the music diverted the brothers from the sadness in their lives as much as it does for their audiences. From the fond looks in their eyes as they describe their music, I think it did.
I loved it too. It was really sad in a lot of parts, but it’s an amazing look at a tremendous volume of work from this amazing duo. I loved hearing their stories of Mary Poppins and working with Walt. This doc along with Waking Sleeping Beauty and Walt and El Grupo make a great little trilogy of Disney History.