I have wanted to see “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story” ever since it was announced several years ago. I was thinking about it just last weekend – before I heard about the death of Robert Sherman.
To recap: Richard and Robert Sherman wrote about 10 times their share of unforgettable songs, many of which are wedged into your cerebral cortex at this very instant. Their output includes their tenure as staff songwriters for the Walt Disney Company, and I think they were the only ones to hold that title. Just think about the songs from “Mary Poppins” plus the “Winnie The Pooh” song plus the “Tigger” song plus the songs from “The Jungle Book” plus “It’s A Small World After All.” Their non-Disney product included “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” music from the animated “Charlotte’s Web,” one of the Charlie Brown feature films, and the Ringo Starr hit “You’re Sixteen (You’re Beautiful and You’re Mine).”
But the story gets more interesting – for much of that storied career, the brothers were estranged from each other – professional collaborators and nothing else. When a stage version of “Mary Poppins” premiered a few years ago in London, one of Richard’s kids started talking to one of Robert’s kids, and the two cousins – who barely knew each other – came up with the idea for the documentary. They were able to get the backing of Ben Stiller as an executive producer, and the blessing of Disney, which distributed the documentary. (Without the ability to license Disney clips, it would have been a pretty short documentary.)