It might be odd to start a review of a Pg-13 Disney movie with a dirty joke, but I think it’s called for: A dignified older man in a sharply pressed suit strolls onto a car dealership, and this junior salesman who is desperate for a sale slides up to him and begins to show him around. He takes him to car after car, and every time he lays it on thick, discussing all of the luxuries that each car has, the smoothness of the ride and the softness of the seats, and the whole time he’s getting nothing back from his potential customer. Finally he takes him to the nicest car on the lot and just hammers it home what a nice car this is, but the flop sweat is kicking in because he really needs this sale, so finally he just asks point blank: are you thinking about buying the car? And the old gentleman says “Oh, I’m definitely buying the car. I’m thinking about pussy, though.”
Now, before I get to how that joke fits this movie, I need to set the scene: Walt Disney wants the rights to the Mary Poppins book, but the book’s author P.L. Travers won’t sell them. For twenty years he begs and begs, but she says no to him every time because she doesn’t like animation, she doesn’t care for musicals, she doesn’t have a lot of patience for pap, and that’s what Disney makes. But she begins to run out of money, so she has to seriously consider selling.
So Disney flies her out to California, where her worst nightmares about Disney’s plans all come true, so she decides that the money isn’t worth it, and she flies back to England with her contract unsigned. But Disney has finally got her number, so he, too, hops on a plane and shows up on her doorstep. Once he’s there he begins to spin one of those classic end of the movie speeches. He explains the meaning of art to this fully grown woman who has published several books, and he elaborates on how it can touch people in their hearts and change their lives. He talks about what Mary Poppins means to children, and he tells her that she shouldn’t keep Mary Poppins away from all of those children just because she’s a tight-ass, that she needs to forgive herself for having a rough childhood, etc.
I doubt that at that moment P.L. Travers was thinking about the healing power of art, or the innocence of childhood, or about what a charming man Walt Disney could be when he wanted to be. The same way that car buyer was thinking about pussy, she was thinking about money. Pretending anything else is horseshit.
Winner: The Cat