Saving Mr. Banks – Movie Review
By Anne Brodie Dec 19, 2013, 17:13 GMT
Plot Summary: Two-time Academy Award®–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney\'s "Saving Mr. Banks," inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney\'s classic "Mary Poppins" made it to the screen. When Walt Disney\'s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers\' "Mary Poppins," he made them a promise - one that he didn\'t realize would take 20 years to keep. ...more
Here is a joyous, mainstream film about the making of Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins releasing side by side with the 50th anniversary DVD and Blu-Ray. It’s a winner on every level. But who is Mr. Banks?
Tom Hanks is Walt Disney, a serious, but essentially lighthearted man with uncommon insights into human nature. What regular folks know about Disney is the rah -rah! TV host with the excitable manner. Hanks paints him with different colors as he may have been in this behind-the-scenes story of the making of the runaway hit Mary Poppins. Disney faces one of the greatest battles of his professional life, convincing English author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to let him film her bestselling book Mary Poppins.
He spent twenty years coaxing and negotiating with the obstreperous Travers who held the film so closely to her chest that she is unable to even consider a film version. The characters were real and meaningful to her outside the usual author/character affection. There is history that made them so painfully private to her.
The film is told in two time periods, one in the Hollywood of the sixties and the other the desert outback of Australia at the turn of the last century. Hollywood is the glorious fantasy land where magic is dusted on things. Australia is where hardship, alcohol and too much dust nearly ruined Travers’ life. She loved her father (Colin Farrell) a ne’er do well who preferred good times over responsibility and simple childish pleasures to building a life for his young family. She is haunted by him.
Once she agrees to the film she insists on being onset and shaping the film, the casting, the music, the art and costume direction and the characterizations. The wise Disney allows her to get involved; it’s a small price to make a film the people will want to see, that he believes will bring joy and solace to young and old.
Right out of the gate, Travers says no music and no animation. You’ve all seen Mary Poppins and there music and animation both including some of the most loved songs in Disney’s history.
Thompson is completely committed to Travers. The stiff upper lip, and shock at the emotions stirred during her talks with Disney reflect a woman in deep pain. She lives in a nice house she can’t afford in London and resentfully sips tea when her agent tells her she must earn money even if it means agreeing to Disney’s terms. She carries herself straight and tall but she gives away the helplessness in her gait.
For a lighthearted comedy with music, there is a lot of tension. Disney and Travers endured each other and made it through a personal battle of two decades but never spoke a mean word to one another. The innate grace of the characters defines the film, the story and the principals. And especially Mr. Banks.
We know the outcome and the background we learn is icing on the Mary Poppins cake. This is a mainstream film to be sure, but it’s a rich and rewarding experience. And it does Disney films do best; they thaw our frozen hearts.
35 mm Drama Written by Kelly Marcell, Sue Smith Directed by John Lee Hancock Opens: Dec. 20 Wide in Canada Runtime: 125 minutes MPAA: PG 13 Country: USA Language: English