Monday, December 23, 2013
Movie review: Saving Mr. Banks is an inspiring tale of movie magic
We'd say it's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) promised his two daughters that he would make a their favorite book character, Mary Poppins, come to life. His promise has proven more difficult to keep than he originally thought because the author, Mrs. Travers (Emma Thompson), has refused to give him the rights. It is 20 years now from the first time Disney approached her and now Mrs. Travers has finally agreed, begrudgingly, to more seriously consider it – with conditions of course. So she travels from England to California for two weeks to meet with Walt, the script writer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and the talented songwriting Sherman brothers (B.J Novak and Jason Schwartzman). Walt Disney will do whatever it takes to make Mrs. Travers happy so he can keep his promise to his girls. Mrs. Travers, as she prefers to be called, proves more difficult than he anticipated. She is unwilling to release control of her beloved characters and Walt Disney finds the opportunity slipping further and further from his grasp. How will he convince her that bringing to life the beloved Mary Poppins is the right thing to do? Starring Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Lily Bigham, Kathy Baker, Melanie Paxson, Andy McPhee, Rachel Griffiths, and Ronan Vibert.
Saving Mr. Banks feels like a secret window into an unknown world. It is whimsical and charming, everything you would expect from a Disney feature film. I came away from the film more in love than ever with the film Mary Poppins because now I know what it took to get it made and what it meant to the people who did it. I can’t speak to the truthfulness of the story being told in Saving Mr. Banks. You have to believe that most of it must be fairly accurate if a little skewed in the Disney favor. You get a taste of the truth during the credits when you hear actual pieces of the recording script sessions between Travers, DaGradi and the Sherman brothers. I loved that! If you put aside the truthfulness of the story however it is interesting to know how important the characters were to Mrs. Travers and why Disney pursued the project relentlessly when really its not like he needed it to make money or anything.
RATING8/10 stars – A beautiful look at the story behind a truly beloved story and movie! Fascinating to watch!
Like so many Disney films this one probably tugs at your hearts strings a bit much for most people’s taste. I admit I fall prey to their ploys and clichés, but I enjoy every minute of it. Plus who wouldn’t with such a wonderful cast. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are brilliant. Thompson is the perfect balance between cold, relentless, but yet emotional and loving. Hanks plays a convincing Disney even looks like him. The surprise for me was Giamatti. His role is small but somehow ends up being vital and one of the most touching.
Saving Mr. Banks isn’t an overly ambitious film. There is no new story telling avenue here. No fancy CG or interesting effects. It is simple, straight forward and historical. Of course it is a shameless plug for everything Disney, but then considering the topic how could it be anything else. I have two aspects to the film that will stick in my brain. First, the fact that they don’t even attempt to make Mrs. Travers a likable character. You warm to her not because she becomes nicer but because she is stubbornly who she is – grumpy and pushy. Then there is the moment when the character accepts a overly large stuffed Mickey as a friend, a comfort. This is probably not at all what happened in reality but it is touching and exemplifies that we all of us have a little bit of a kid in there somewhere that just needs to believe in something. When it's all said and done I truly enjoyed Saving Mr. Banks and think anyone who has seen or loves Mary Poppins will appreciate this movie for what it is, the story behind the story.
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