Even if you've never heard of the Sherman Brothers, you've likely heard their songs. Robert and Richard Sherman wrote the music for films such as "Mary Poppins," "The Jungle Book, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Happiest Millionaire", "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" to name only a few. Their work on "Mary Poppins," "Bedknobs and Broomsticks," "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," as well as others got them nominated for several Academy Awards. Awards and legendary films aside, the Sherman brothers were storytellers. Their songs captured the very spirit of a film, a moment, and a character.
"The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story" is a fantastic look at not only the music the Sherman brothers made, but the men behind the songs. There are interviews throughout with those who've worked with the Sherman brothers, sang their songs, or simply admired them for years. They all feel genuine as they express how the Sherman brother's music made a lasting impression. But don't be mistaken, "The Boys" is not a fluff piece.
Directors Gregg Sherman (Richard Sherman's son) and Jeff Sherman (Robert Sherman's son) open the film by sharing how they met in 2002 at an event where their fathers and their family set on opposite sides of the theater. "The Boys" explores the fact that the brothers devoted their careers to writing family entertainment music, and yet, neither one of them could get their families together. The idea that Gregg and Jeff took it upon themselves to understand and uncover why their fathers didn't speak privately after 50 years of working so closely together makes the film all the more compelling. The film does a nice job of going back and forth between each son interviewing their father, as they try to piece together who the Sherman brothers really were and are.
This is more than a documentary, "The Boys" explores a deeper relationship between two men, two brothers whose ageless music has provided a soundtrack to lives all over the world. A highlight from the film is when Gregg and Jeff take Richard Sherman back to his childhood home to visit for the first time since the 40's. As Richard remembers their childhood games, Robert too recalls the same moments from London. It's this kind of storytelling and filmmaking that make "The Boys" equally heartbreaking and engaging. As the film progresses, we get a glimpse into where some of their inspiration came from, their parents work in music and film (their dad, Al Sherman was a composer as well), their youth and eventual success and the lives they led separately outside of work.
There's a great deal of archive photos, footage, clips of music and interviews with people like Julie Andrews, Randy Newman, Dick Van Dyke, Ben Stiller, Roy Disney, Robert Osborne, John Williams, Hayley Mills, and many more . Still, it's the story of Richard and Robert Sherman and their son's quest for understanding that drives this film and makes it stand out among documentaries. John Lasseter says it best when he says "You cannot forget a Sherman brothers song for your entire life." After watching "The Boys",it's likely you'll never forget the Sherman brothers either.
VIDEO: The documentary is presented by Disney in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Presentation quality is not without some mild concerns at times, but the majority of the film looked clean and clear, with only moderate grain and wear on some of the archive material.
SOUND: The 5.1 Dolby Digital audio presentation delivers archive audio, dialogue and music about as clearly as one might expect, given the material. No substantial concerns were noted.
EXTRAS: "Why They're ˜The Boys" - an explanation about why the Sherman brothers are called "The Boys."
"Disney Studios in the '60's" - a look at the Disney Studios in the ˜60s and the Sherman brother's work during that time period.
"Casting Mary Poppins" - a brief but fun look at the casting of "Mary Poppins."
"The Process" - is a look at Robert and Richard Sherman's creative/working process. The feature also focuses on the impact of the Sherman brother's songs.
"Theme Parks" - a look at the music written by the Sherman brothers that you hear in theme parks and the process of writing for a theme park.
"Roy Williams" - The Sherman brothers talk fondly about animator Roy Williams.
"Bob's Art" - is a closer look at Bob Sherman's love of painting, including stills of his artwork.
"Celebration" - people interviewed talk about the Sherman brothers' work and how it will be remembered and should be celebrated.
"Sherman Brothers Jukebox" offers 12 songs (there's a "play all" option as well) that aren't the songs in their entirety, but rather pieces of the songs. Songs included are: "Tall Paul", "Chim Chim Cher-ee," "Feed The Birds," "Gold Can Buy Anything (But Love)," "There's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow," "Jolly Holiday, "Oh, Gee, Georgie!," "Up, Down and Touch the Ground," "Spoonful of Sugar," "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," "Ugly Bug Ball," "Der Wienerschnitzel Commercial".
"The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story", is a fantastic look at not only the music the Sherman brothers made, but the men behind the songs. Anything but a fluff piece, "The Boys" examines the relationship between the two brothers, including how they don't socialize outside of work. It's a compelling look at this part of Disney's history. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of extras.
The Film B+