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Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Dec. 10, 2013by: JimmyO

PLOT: When Walt Disney’s daughters wanted their father to make the film “Mary Poppins” from their favorite books, he made them a promise he would. As a man who keeps his promises, he spent nearly twenty years trying to get the author to sign a deal to make what would end up being a groundbreaking classic for Walt Disney and his studio. This is the heartwarming tale of the two iconic figures and his struggle to make it all happen.

REVIEW: If you were ever presented with Walt Disney’s classic MARY POPPINS anytime in your life you will probably find a little to a lot of joy with the new feature SAVING MR. BANKS. Starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney himself and Emma Thompson as P.L Travers - author of the books which the film was based – this new feature explores Disney’s relentless pursuit to get her to give him the rights to make his movie. It was a pitch he made to her in the 1940’s due to a promise he made his daughters when he found them reading the books about a fantastical nanny. Every year he would make this request to Ms. Travers and every year she would turn him down. BANKS explores the reasons and just how desperately this iconic figure wanted to bring MARY POPPINS to the silver screen.

A bit of a love letter to cinema – as well as a love letter to Disney itself – this biographical tale begins with Travers finally deciding to make the trip to meet Walt in person. She is a curmudgeonly sort who simply wants to be left alone, yet she suddenly finds herself financially in need. However, Mary Poppins is something that she can’t seem to let go of, in fear that Disney would turn the film into some sort of animated musical – which he partially did. Once she arrives in Los Angeles she is welcomed with an overabundance of stuffed toys awaiting her in a luxurious hotel room. Of course this doesn’t win her over. Things get even worse when she meets the screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) as well as Richard and Robert Sherman (The Sherman Brothers) - played by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak respectively – considering she specifically demanded there be no music in the film.

While much of the film is focused on Disney and his pursuit of the author, BANKS really shines as we discover exactly who this Travers person really is. As terrific as both Hanks and Thompson are, it is Colin Farrell who absolutely steals the film. Considering the trailers only feature the actor in brief glimpses you may want to avoid the next couple of lines as they do give away part of the back story. So here you go… SPOILERS: Farrell plays Travers free-spirited father who also happens to be an alcoholic. He adores his young daughter whom he lovingly refers to as Ginty. The young actress is beautifully played by 11-year-old Aussie native Annie Rose Buckley. Ruth Wilson is the long-suffering wife who is all-smiles when father and daughter are celebrating happy times, yet deeply saddened when her husband clearly loses grip on the real world with his drinking. When Aunt Ellie (Rachel Griffiths) comes to take care of them, it is abundantly obvious why Travers holds “Mary Poppins” so dear to her heart. END SPOILERS.

This sentimental story is anchored by the wonderful performances of Thompson and Hanks – as well as the phenomenal Farrell. Even the supporting characters brighten up this true life inspired story. Especially notable is Paul Giamatti as Travers limousine driver, Ralph. The heart of it all is very moving as the film spends nearly as much time on her growing up (thankfully) as it does in 1961. The touching script by Sue Smith and Kelly Marcel does a fair job of balancing the humor, as well as the more serious moments – of which there are quite a few. At times, however, it does feel a bit manipulative and fantastical itself. This is a Disney film so you aren’t necessarily going to discover a whole lot of depth necessarily. Thankfully, this entertaining flick has the power to induce smiles along the way.

If you are going into SAVING MR. BANKS for historical accuracy, you are probably going for the wrong reason. I’m not an expert on the behind the scenes of MARY POPPINS, but it is clear that the filmmakers intended to make a charming movie about what was nearly a twenty year battle between these two iconic figures. Of course MARY POPPINS was a groundbreaking classic for Walt Disney Studios so it is an interesting story, nonetheless. While it may have been more fascinating to see a more detailed – and probably more accurate - look at the making of a classic film, there is a real infectious spirit that director John Lee Hancock (THE BLIND SIDE) brings to the project which makes it a bit of an enjoyable family affair.

SAVING MR. BANKS is a “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” delight. The way the original songs from MARY POPPINS are presented are clever and a whole heaping helping of fun. And of course, both Hanks and Thompson are very good and the dialogue between them is terrific. At times, the whimsy and sentimental spirit of it all feels a bit manipulative, yet it is a Disney film about one of their most cherished films so would you expect anything less? It is hard not to be taken in by it all, especially when Disney whisks Traver’s away for a day at Disneyland. There is real joy here, however I found myself more engrossed by her early years. The story of a broken family and how young “Ginty” was able to grow up and find her own Mary Poppins in real life was fascinating. BANKS is a joyful tale made all the better by a winning cast especially the fantastic supporting performance from Colin Farrell.

Source: JoBlo.com

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5:53PM on 12/11/2013
my buddy's aunt makes $70 an hour on the internet. She has been without work for nine months but last month her payment was $12442 just working on the internet for a few hours. blog link... www.Buzz19.com
my buddy's aunt makes $70 an hour on the internet. She has been without work for nine months but last month her payment was $12442 just working on the internet for a few hours. blog link... www.Buzz19.com
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4:08PM on 12/10/2013

Disney studios doing a movie about it's founder, feels controlled. Would love to see a non-Disney studio do a real bio-pic

This is based on not yet having seen "Saving Mr. Banks" or reading the review to avoid spoilers.
I think Walt Disney was a genius, but Disney doing a film on their founder I would expect their version to be intensely sugar-coated, family friendly, and have very little distasteful things to say and show about their historic founder. I don't see it being the true bio-pic it would be if it were done by any other non-Disney studio.
Does anyone else see what I'm getting at?
Example: "The
This is based on not yet having seen "Saving Mr. Banks" or reading the review to avoid spoilers.
I think Walt Disney was a genius, but Disney doing a film on their founder I would expect their version to be intensely sugar-coated, family friendly, and have very little distasteful things to say and show about their historic founder. I don't see it being the true bio-pic it would be if it were done by any other non-Disney studio.
Does anyone else see what I'm getting at?
Example: "The Social Network" being done by Facebook, it would not have been the same film at all.
I would love to see a bio-pic on Walt Disney, but not with the headline "Disney" in front of the title. To me that just screams "Studio Empire Control".
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1:48PM on 12/10/2013
Glad to see this got a good review. But I'm still curious, who is Mr. Banks? I don't get the reference.
Glad to see this got a good review. But I'm still curious, who is Mr. Banks? I don't get the reference.
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2:44PM on 12/10/2013
Mr Banks is the name of the father character in Marry Poppins. He is based on Travers' alcoholic father. If you watch the first trailer knowing this, you get a pretty good idea of the meaning behind the title.
Mr Banks is the name of the father character in Marry Poppins. He is based on Travers' alcoholic father. If you watch the first trailer knowing this, you get a pretty good idea of the meaning behind the title.
6:12PM on 12/10/2013
The title also refers to the fact that the story of Mary Poppins wasn't about the children, but about the father. When you watch Mary Poppins, you see that, Mary Poppins is in fact trying to win the father over, not the children.
The title also refers to the fact that the story of Mary Poppins wasn't about the children, but about the father. When you watch Mary Poppins, you see that, Mary Poppins is in fact trying to win the father over, not the children.
11:42AM on 12/10/2013

Glad Farrell is getting love

The guy is a phenomenal actor who gets way more publicity for his paycheck roles in bland action movies than he does his superb character work. The guy is such a mesmerizing supporting actor people mistake him for a lead. Well, it's clear to me the guy should stick with roles like this over Dead Man Down-type fare.
The guy is a phenomenal actor who gets way more publicity for his paycheck roles in bland action movies than he does his superb character work. The guy is such a mesmerizing supporting actor people mistake him for a lead. Well, it's clear to me the guy should stick with roles like this over Dead Man Down-type fare.
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9:27PM on 12/10/2013
He really needs to stop doing roles in these big budget remakes - they always suck.
He really needs to stop doing roles in these big budget remakes - they always suck.
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11:30AM on 12/10/2013

Would be excited if not for the director

I did not care for John Lee Hancock's terribly overrated "The Blind Side", both overrated in it's Oscar winning female performance and the way Hancock told the story and presented the film as a true drama story mixed with some ABC Family Channel jokes and puns. "Saving Mr. Banks" looks good, but I really wish I did not know in advance it's a John Lee Hancock film. I'll still keep an open mind while watching.
I did not care for John Lee Hancock's terribly overrated "The Blind Side", both overrated in it's Oscar winning female performance and the way Hancock told the story and presented the film as a true drama story mixed with some ABC Family Channel jokes and puns. "Saving Mr. Banks" looks good, but I really wish I did not know in advance it's a John Lee Hancock film. I'll still keep an open mind while watching.
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4:26AM on 12/10/2013
Loved it, thought all the cast were superb.
And the actual tapes of PL Travers played while the credits roll just show how Emma Thompson nailed the part.
Loved it, thought all the cast were superb.
And the actual tapes of PL Travers played while the credits roll just show how Emma Thompson nailed the part.
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4:18AM on 12/10/2013
I knew you'd put that Super... idiom somewhere in the review. Heard many positive reviews for this movie.
I knew you'd put that Super... idiom somewhere in the review. Heard many positive reviews for this movie.
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3:54AM on 12/10/2013
Glad this turned out well. As Disney fondly looking back on its own history there is the danger that it could turn out too saccharine and self-congratulatory but it does sound like a good film and I'm looking forward to it.
Glad this turned out well. As Disney fondly looking back on its own history there is the danger that it could turn out too saccharine and self-congratulatory but it does sound like a good film and I'm looking forward to it.
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3:51AM on 12/10/2013
Great review; I agree 100% with everything you said. I loved this film. The entire cast was absolutely phenomenal. The scenes between Thompson and Giamatti were great; "Mrs." never seemed to get old and I laughed every time.
Great review; I agree 100% with everything you said. I loved this film. The entire cast was absolutely phenomenal. The scenes between Thompson and Giamatti were great; "Mrs." never seemed to get old and I laughed every time.
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