The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story
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The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story is an intimate journey through the lives of Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, the astoundingly prolific, Academy Award®-winning songwriting team that defined family musical entertainment for five decades with unforgettable songs like “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocous” from Mary Poppins, “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book and the most translated song ever written "It’s a Small World (After All)" from the Disneyland attraction. The feature-length documentary, conceived, produced and directed by two of the songwriters’ sons, take audiences behind the scenes of the Hollywood magic factory and offers a rate glimpse of a unique creative process at work. It also explores a deep and longstanding rift that has kept the brothers personally estranged throughout much of their unparalleled professional partnership
What songwriters' tunes have been covered by John Coltrane, Annette Funicello, Ringo Starr, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, Louis Prima, and Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, among others? Consider yourself an expert if your answer is Robert and Richard Sherman, whose long, fruitful, and often contentious partnership is chronicled in The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story. The fact that this documentary by directors Jeff and Gregory Sherman (sons of Robert and Richard, respectively) was released under the imprimatur of the Walt Disney Company, for whom "the Boys" did their most renowned work, is an indication that this isn't exactly a hard-hitting exposé; although the estrangement between Bob and Dick, as they were known, isn't ignored ("We perpetrated a façade for 50 years," says one), far more attention is given to the music. That's precisely as it should be. Talking heads like Van Dyke, Andrews, Randy Newman, Ben Stiller, and Hayley Mills help tell the tale of lyricist Bob and composer Dick, who were themselves the sons of a successful songwriter, Al Sherman. They began writing together in the early '50s, scored a hit with Funicello's "Tall Paul" late in that decade (Annette is also seen here singing "Monkey's Uncle," backed by none other than the Beach Boys), and soon became staff writers for Walt Disney. Major successes followed, including an Oscar-winning score for Mary Poppins and songs for The Jungle Book, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and others; they also wrote pop hits like "You're Sixteen" (a hit for Ringo in the '70s), and can take credit (or blame, depending on one's point of view) for "It's a Small World," one of the planet's most ubiquitous songs. The documentary has its flaws--it's overlong at 102 minutes, and the brothers' eventual estrangement, which continues to this day, is attributed to their opposite personalities (Bob, who served in World War II, is quieter and more dour than his volatile younger brother) but not really explained. Still, the music, and there's lots of it, is very well handled, especially in a terrific bonus feature called "Sherman Brothers Jukebox," which details the creation of several Sherman classics. --Sam Graham
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It was a pleasure to see both Dick and Bob interviewed, so that they had a chance to talk about their music. Insight into how they wrote and what they thought about their writing is just fascinating. I was very glad to hear Bob say what his favorite Sherman Brothers' song was, and his insight into their work deserves some thought. Bob said, "I didn't write kiddie songs; I wrote songs for kiddies." Bob is gone now, so hearing this from him is especially touching.
A word of caution: the Boys did write "It's a Small World (After All)," so you will hear it on the soundtrack. If you are susceptible to earworms, I suggest you sing along with the other songs after it and try to block it out. It is an iconic song, a beautiful sentiment, and it deserves a place in history, but after you've heard it few hundred times, it's just too much. Sorry, Boys!
This is a very sad happy story, or a very happy sad story, depending on your point of view. Stories about family often are.
Dick van Dyke, Julie Andrews, Randy Newman and other Disney and Hollywood luminaries add their thoughts and memories, along with Dick & Bob's kids.
Most of the film centers on the great music, mostly in a timeline. But there are some sad notes about the fact that "the Boys' really didn't get along that much outside of writing.
Great music, great story and a lot of Disney history. Walt makes several appearances. Apparently one of Walt's faves was "Feed the birds (Tuppence a bag)" which they would play for him on a regular basis, nearly every Friday.
Plenty of bonus features here.