Movie Reviews

Published on December 13th, 2013 | by gareth


Saving Mr. Banks

One of the greatest Disney classics, “Mary Poppins” has a unique history on its long journey from the page to the silver screen. In “Saving Mr. Banks”, the twenty year battle between Walt Disney and the notoriously difficult author is told in a touching and gripping tale.

Tom Hanks stars as Walt Disney who after making a promise to his daughters to bring their beloved Mary Poppins books to life embarks on a frustrating battle with author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), that lasts twenty years.

Faced with financial need following a lack of published materials, Travers reluctantly agrees to travel from her home in London to meet with Disney to discuss signing over the rights to her beloved character. Travers is a very abrupt individual who has no problem speaking her mind and is not one to spare feelings with her cutting and direct barbs.

Travers has little love for animation, Disneyland, or the whimsy that accompanies all things Disney and is terrified that her beloved Mary Poppins will be turned into some silly and childish film, hence her reluctance to sign over the theatrical rights.

Over the two weeks of her visit to California, Walt, and the talented Sherman Brothers (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) endure her icy behavior, harsh criticisms and intolerance for their work and efforts. Travers is horrified with everything from their casting choices to the inclusion of music and many aspects of the script and look of the characters.

Undaunted, Walt and company press on in the face of overwhelming adversity and unending opposition from Travers and slowly but surely make progress in appeasing Travers as they bring the film closer and closer to fruition.

What follows is a very moving, funny and enjoyable tale that is powered by outstanding performances by the two leads and the very strong supporting cast, especially that of Paul Giamatti who plays a driver named Ralph who has to endure the venom of Travers has he drives her around during her stay.

The film does a good job of showing what Travers endured as a child thanks to her alcoholic father (Colin Farrell), and how her experiences with his struggles helped form the woman she was to become.

While aspects of the true story have been softened somewhat in the final act from what happened in reality, the film is very honest and effective.

Many of the memorable classic songs from the movie appear in the film but are done in a very natural way as they are introduced to viewers as they are being introduced to the characters in the film.

While some aspects of the film may be a little darker than people would come to expect from a Disney movie, the film is a very enjoyable experience that is not to be missed.

4 stars out of 5

About the Author

Syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. His work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site and publication “Skewed and Reviewed”. He has three books of film, game reviews and interviews published and is a well-received and in demand speaker on the convention circuit. Gareth has appeared in movies and is a regular guest on a top-rated Seattle morning show. He has also appeared briefly in films such as “Prefountaine”, “Postal”. “Far Cry”. and others. Gareth is also an in-demand speaker at several conventions and has conducted popular panels for over two decades.

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