THE SCREENING ROOM
By Bill KallayEven fairy tales about Disney have an underlying tone of sadness.
"The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story" is now on DVD.
I've been a Disney fan, collector and researcher for many years. It's not too difficult to become caught up in the fantasy of Disney. I've watched clips featuring Walt Disney telling audiences of his new plans for Disneyland. I've watched countless specials on Disney's fantasy factory of animation, live action films, and theme parks. People such as Disney's "Nine Old Men" and the Sherman Brothers became an extension of my life. I almost felt like I knew these people. The kicker here is that I thought that the cheerful songs written by the Sherman Brothers, for instance, were a reflection of their brotherly bond. Turns out, that was a fantasy.
Robert B. & Richard M. Sherman wrote some of the most iconic songs of all-time. "A Spoonful of Sugar," "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," and "Winnie the Pooh" are just a fraction of the songs the brothers wrote during the 1960s. I'm sure that budding songwriters would love just to have one song that lasts through the ages, let alone dozens.
In listening to many of the Sherman Brothers songs, it's easy hum along and dance. They had the uncanny ability to craft instant hooks, memorable lyrics, and brilliant compositions. Many of their songs are so cheerful, so full of life, it's easy to think that the brothers themselves were happy-go-lucky. In this stunning documentary, directed by Gregory V. Sherman and Jeff Sherman is a loving tribute to their fathers. Listening to "Let's Go Fly A Kite," one thinks of family unity. The Sherman Bros. were not close as this fine film points out.
Gregory and Jeff have provided Disney fans a carefully balanced film about the Sherman Bros. Unlike many of their songs, not everything is sugarcoated. And that's not to say that all of their songs were bright and cheerful. "Feed the Birds" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee" are beautifully written pieces that are sad and have a touch of melancholy. As we see the brothers today, they are very different individuals. When they're making music together, they are bonded. Yet apart from the piano and music, they remain apart.
I've been to a few events where Richard has been either an on-stage guest, or has been in the audience. He always struck me as a very friendly and charismatic person. I thought it was odd that Robert was not at these events. Then it dawned on me, years before this film was made, that perhaps the brothers didn't get along as well as I had seen in so many promotional films.
In watching the documentary, I was reminded of my own family and its own feuds. Despite being blood relatives, there have been continual family arguments over events that happened decades ago. Some of the family hasn't seen each other for years. What touched me about this film was its own honesty of family strain. I wasn't surprised to find out in the film that the two sides of the Sherman family didn't talk to each other for years, even if they were in the same room.
What really got to me was the fact that these two brothers, who had made such wonderful contributions to American music, were still barely on speaking terms. We see a sense of great sadness that the brothers were estranged and it's heartbreaking. Even though I don't know the Sherman Bros. personally, I wished deep down in my heart that they would reconcile. That's how powerful this film was for me.
Special thanks to Click Communications
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