Coffee with Kurtti: Roger Rabbit vs Mary Poppins

Written by Keith Gluck. Posted in Coffee With Kurtti, Disney, Disney History, Disney Movies, Keith Gluck, Podcasts


Published on January 19, 2013 at 4:02 am with 4 Comments

In episode 3 of Coffee with Kurtti, I hit Jeff Kurtti with a bombshell: “Roger Rabbit is just as good as, if not better than, Mary Poppins.” Jeff, incredulous, fires back in defense of his beloved Poppins. But, do I really believe that? If so, am I right, or wrong? We go over some of the points each film has in its favor, and talk about why it’s actually a closer race than some people think. Below is a paraphrased excerpt from our conversation.

Jeff: Both films really are of their time, and both films really are of their Studio at the time. They’re interesting because they’re both kind of microcosms now that I think about it.

Keith: Yeah. There’s a lot of parallels between the two.

Jeff: One of the things I think makes Roger Rabbit a repeat view… you really are digesting three different kinds of cinematic language.

Keith: That was one of the things for me that made it harder to compare. The amount of animation, the quality of the effects. Obviously you can’t throw up a movie that’s 25 years older and expect to compare the effects fairly.

Jeff: One of the things too is as much as you see Roger Rabbit as wall-to-wall animation, if you listen to Mary Poppins, without looking at it, it is practically wall-to-wall music.

Keith: Yeah.

Jeff: The whole thing [Roger Rabbit] was hand-made, in the same sense that Mary Poppins was hand-made. As sophisticated as it looks, it was still a four-pass, genuinely photographed—not digital—animation technique. That may be where Roger Rabbit gets taken for granted.

Keith: I think another thing that might get taken for granted as well is Eddie Valiant.

Check out the full conversation below:

You can also find us on iTunes: Coffee with Kurtti on iTunes

Well folks, what do you think? Does Roger Rabbit hold a candle to Mary Poppins?

About Keith Gluck

Keith Gluck writes for and volunteers at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco. He also runs a Disney blog called, and travels to Disney Parks as often as he can. A fan of many facets of The Disney Company, Keith's main interest is the life and legacy of Walt Disney. For questions/comments, or to request a certain topic be covered, please send an email to: [email protected] Twitter: @DisneyProject Facebook:

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  1. If Walt had cut two songs from Mary Poppins, it could have been as lean. consistently magical, and as perfect as the 1939 version of “The Wizard of Oz.” That is, it might have been one of the top five American films of all time along with Oz, the Godfather, Citizen Kane and Casablanca. (The Wizard of Oz cut it’s unnecessary “Jitterbug” number and the film was stronger for it–and we’ve got an interesting extra feature in the DVD.)

    “Roger Rabbit,” like Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future movies, displayed Robert Zemeckis’ strange, Tourette’s-like affinity for out of place foul language in movies aimed at the whole family.

    That said, MP is outstanding and probably in my top 50 movies ever made, while Roger Rabbit is excellent and might make a list of my 150 (out of 1,000) favorite films.


  2. I could listen to Jeff Kurtti all day.

    While at first I thought the premise of comparing Roger Rabbit to Mary Poppins was strange, it was actually quite fascinating.

    Thank you Keith and Jeff for another great coffee chat.

  3. This is a fun conversation.

    Mary Poppins was the culmination of all Walt Disney had learned in his career, mixing live action characters and animation, music, story design and character development.

    Walt believed in charming characters in a charming story. Roger Rabbit is a fun movie but lacks those two elements. Somehow Roger Rabbit is not an endearing character. No one is buying Roger Rabbit hats at Disneyland. The story had great potential to be a classic, but when the main character does not create warm feelings in people, the whole movie ends up lacking an enduring quality that makes you want to see over and over.

  4. I guess I may be the only one who includes 1971′s BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS in this debate (the songs, the cast, the animated sequences, etc) … I have just as jolly a time watching it as I do watching 1964′s MARY POPPINS and 1988′s WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT

    Even better? Please do read the books that each film was based upon -

    P. L. Travers’s Mary Poppins Novels “Mary Poppins” (1934) “Mary Poppins Comes Back” (1935) “Mary Poppins Opens the Door” (1943) “Mary Poppins in the Park” (1952)

    Mary Norton’s Novels “The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons” (1943) “Bonfires and Broomsticks” (1945)

    Gary K. Wolf’s novel “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” (1981)

    C J