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Friday, August 21, 2009

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story

The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story


Release Date: August 21st, 2009 at the AMC Yonge & Dundas

Rated PG for mild thematic elements, smoking images and brief language

Running time: 101 minutes

Gregg V. Sherman (dir.)

Jeff C. Sherman (dir.)

(LtoR) Robert B. Sherman, Richard M. Sherman and Walt Disney © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Our reviews below:


The Boys Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Walt Disney once said that for every laugh there should be a tear. While there may be more tears than laughs in The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story, that saying still rings very true. This true story of the brothers close collaboration, but eventual social separation, is very heartbreaking. But it’s also very uplifting considering all the songs they have written. The Sherman brothers, Richard and Robert, were famous for writing some of the most beloved Disney songs of all time. They wrote everything for Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book, The New York Worlds Fair theme song It’s a Small World After All, and the list goes on and on.

Anyone who’s deterred from seeing the film thinking it will be a boring documentary comprised only of interviews, need not fear. The film is very well made, and never drags. I was captivated from the beginning right through to the end. The camera work is smooth, never shaky, and it’s beautifully edited and put together. Anyone who’s a fan of classic Disney will enjoy seeing the footage from so many classic films and the archival footage of many Disney legends. What makes it even better is that it’s all set to a score of the classic Sherman brothers’ songs.

The documentary is incredibly touching and moving, and anyone who sees it will no longer be able to listen to any of their songs in quite the same way. You will always remember the artists behind them, and a lot of the songs even take on a deeper meaning and feelings of sadness. Their relationship was strained because they had to work together, but if they hadn’t worked together, these songs may have never been written. And those songs were truly a gift to the world.

It’s more than a documentary, it’s an emotional masterwork that moved me to tears. And it’s one of the best movies of the year. You shouldn’t see this film, you have to see it.


The Boys Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

It is a rare occurrence (I find) to see a documentary this well put together, clear of where it is coming from emotionally, and enjoyable to watch. The Boys succeeded on every level for me. Directed by Jeff Sherman (Robert’s son) and Gregg Sherman (Richard’s son), it is clear that this project was a labour of love for them to make about their fathers'/uncles'.

We are taken through the lives of the Sherman brothers’ sequentially, starting with their father when they were kids. This part is told through interviews with the Sherman brothers’ themselves and old photographs. As the film progresses through their life, it is interesting to hear accounts of the same events through the very different eyes of the two brothers. We see how they came to work together so famously for Walt Disney, but also what happened afterwards. Because of their different personalities, while they worked well musically together, they had trouble getting along at times outside of the studio. As we are taken through their lives, we get a glimpse of who they really are.

While The Boys is a very emotional and moving film, it is also funny at times. Overall, unlike some documentaries with interview after interview of people sitting there discussing something with no real thread holding it all together, this actually follows a storyline - their life. I cared about what I was watching, enjoyed hearing the classic songs and seeing snippets of the movies again, and all around had a good time. This is one documentary that anyone who fondly remembers the Sherman brothers’ songs, or is just into music, should definitely see. I recommend it all the way.


The Boys Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

The Boys is a well made, and fascinating documentary about Disney’s best known song writing duo, the Sherman Brothers. Not only did I get to hear many songs that I so fondly remember, I also enjoyed hearing the story of Robert and Richard Sherman.

We see them in their younger years, find out about how they started their career in music, meet each of their families, and most of all, get a sense of who Richard and Robert really are. Robert Sherman is more shy and sensitive, where as Richard Sherman is more hyperactive and out going. The brother’s different personalities shine through and bring them together musically, but causes them and their families to slowly drift apart outside of the business context.

As an artist coming from a creative family, I found it interesting to see how these two brothers work together as artists. The interviews with the Sherman Brothers are very interesting, and often hilarious, as we get to hear each brother’s account as to what happened in their lives. If you are into music, or the arts in general, then The Boys is a documentary that you will definitely want to see.


The Boys Review By Maureen

**** (out of 4)

The Boys” is a heartwarming and heartfelt documentary about the legendary songwriting pair, brothers Robert and Richard Sherman. It’s obvious that this film was a labor of love for Robert’s son, Jeff, and Richard’s son Gregg.

The Boys’ chronicles the brothers’ lives right from childhood. With their father Al Sherman being a popular songwriter in the 1930’s it is no surprise that musical talent was in their genes. It was interesting to see how the brothers were so similar in terms of talent yet so different in temperament. It was that difference that ultimately distanced them in latter years. I found it sad to watch how both physically and emotionally frail older brother, Robert seemed compared to his younger brother, Richard with both men being in their eighties.

The documentary goes back an forth between the two brothers each giving their own account of events. There are also many interviews with family members and people in the industry who worked with them. It was delightful seeing individuals such as Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke reminisce about “Mary Poppins and other films.

What I loved was the trip down memory lane seeing clips of old and more recent Disney films and hearing the wonderful classic songs that many of us will never forget. If you have ever been a fan of the Sherman brothers work, or a big Disney fan “The Boys” is a must see.


The Boys Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

The Boys is a documentary on the Sherman Brothers, Robert and Richard, produced by Robert’s son Jeff and Richard’s son Gregg. For about sixty years they have written many unforgettable songs for films, mainly for the Disney studio, including Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh, as well as the ultimate earworm “It’s a small world after all” written for the 1964 World’s Fair. Beginning a century ago with the immigration from the Ukraine to the U.S. of their father Al Sherman, who was also a successful songwriter, the film follows their lives from birth (Bob in 1925 and Dick in 1928) to the present day.

The Boys is truly a labour of love, with years of preparation brought together by brilliant editing. In a hundred minutes it moves seamlessly back and forth between past and present, with reminiscences of the brothers seen together in previous documentaries and now far apart–Robert living alone in London and Richard with his family in Beverly Hills. Generous film clips and interviews with dozens of colleagues and admirers come exactly where you would want to see them, resulting in a continuous narrative that is never boring. What mainly drives the story is the differences between the brothers that privately kept them and their families apart. Remarkably, though living just a few blocks apart, the cousins Jeff and Gregg didn’t really know each other until they met at the 2002 London premiere of a stage version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and decided no longer after some forty years to ignore each others’ families.

As some suggested, the way their different personalities complemented each other is what made them successful. Robert was the introverted wordsmith, never the same physically or emotionally after seeing action and Holocaust in the war in which his brother was too young to serve. Robert would sit back and suggest changes to the constant flood of ideas coming out of his extroverted musician brother as he pounded away at the piano. During staged joint public appearances, their personal differences were always hidden by an air of jovial banter. As we go back and forth between current interview segments filmed separately in extreme closeup, their conflicting memories of the same events are at times amusing, but at other times as they are brought to tears we can feel the love between them as brothers never left them even though they couldn’t stand each other.

As a bonus, the mystery of a half century is solved–the role of Roy, the big guy (lampooned by John Candy in an SCTV sketch) who popped up with Jimmy Dodd as the only other adult on the old Mickey Mouse Club.

(LtoR) Richard M. Sherman, Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and Robert B. Sherman on the set of “Mary Poppins” © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.


Consensus: An extremely well made documentary that is worth going out to see, especially if you love classic Disney. **** (Out of 4)


(LtoR) Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman © Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

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