SAVING MR BANKS – a review

Last night, I got to see a preview of the new Disney film SAVING MR. BANKS.

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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. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.

For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.

It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

Inspired by true events, “Saving Mr. Banks” is the extraordinary, untold story of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen—and the testy relationship that the legendary Walt Disney had with author P.L. Travers that almost derailed it.

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This is a movie that I have honestly been waiting to see since September of 2012 when I got an email from the Disney list that production had started.  So many great actors.  An inside look at the making of a film classic.  A really unique story that I can totally relate to…

I mean, what writer doesn’t feel like her words are her own, and no one else should be able to do what they want with them?  I totally understood why Mrs. Travers would feel nervous about assigning the rights to someone else and losing control of characters that she regarded as family.

So when these two creative forces get together, it’s quite the fight.  One that neither side is prepared to lose.  Walt has promised his daughters he would make this movie, and he never goes back on a promise to his girls.  Mrs. Travers will not budge when it comes to the beloved Mary Poppins.  Heads butt.  Compromises are made.  Eventually, a movie happens, and that’s where this story lives.

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There are also flashbacks to Mrs. Travers’ childhood as Helen Goff, the daughter of a well-meaning alcoholic father who can’t seem to do the right things for his family.  You see the hard life that she had and how it shaped both her and her writings.  Colin Farrell plays her father and he hits all the right notes, making you feel the pain that Helen did every moment he is on screen.  You can look into his eyes and see exactly what he is feeling.  His daughter deserves better than him, but he can’t help his addictions.

SAVING MR. BANKS

Emma Thompson is getting raves her role which are totally well deserved.  For me, the biggest thrill was Tom Hank’s performance as Walt Disney.  I legitimately forgot at times that he was an actor, and just soaked into his performance as the man behind the Mouse.  Paul Giamatti also has a wonderful turn as Mrs. Travers’ driver.  My favorite moment was when she showed him she was listening to him all the time she was complaining about her trip to LA.

My other favorite moment was when Mrs. Travers walked into her hotel room and found it filled with all the Disney swag you could ever dream of.  Needless to say her response was not the same that mine would have been.

I took Sarah to see it, and at 14 she’s probably just the right age.  Younger, sure, but it’s not a kids movie, and it carries a PG-13 rating.  Nothing bad in there, you know, but it’s definitely got some subjects that would bore younger kids.

For the rest of you, GO GO GO to see this film.  You won’t regret it, and if you’re like me, you will be fantasizing about walking through Disneyland with Walt himself long after the movie ends.

In the meantime, check out this making of featurette about the music used in the film.  If you’re seen MARY POPPINS, you will know it well and even may find yourself singing along.

 
SAVING MR. BANKS opens in limited theaters on December 13, 2013 and opens wide on December 20, 2013.

3 thoughts on “SAVING MR BANKS – a review

  1. Having also come from the publishing/TV worlds where creativity is everything, I related to her tight grasp over her content and liked the way Walt Disney gently pushed her to his side. Brilliant film.

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