My Review: Saving Mr. Banks

Photo: Chris White

I began my 2014 film season with Saving Mr. Banks. The John Lee Hancock docudrama chronicles the trials Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) experienced while working with Mary Poppins author, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) on his film adaptation.

The film starts off with a little bit of confusion as the camera lowers from a picturesque view of clouds in a blue sky to a young girl named Helen Goff, or Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley) playing make believe in the yard. We later see Travers at her home in England. As money grows short, the author travels to Los Angeles – much to her displeasure – to meet an eager Walt Disney to develop a movie adaptation. 
When I say eager, I mean eager. Disney pays for everything, from the limo rides to a Disney stuffed animal-filled hotel room. He tells Travers at a meeting that he made a promise to his daughters that a film adaptation of Mary Poppins would be made. He thought it’d be easy but, after 20 years of trying, he’s basically at his wit’s end. It would not get any easier for him either.
It’s clear from the onset that Travers does not want her book to be made into a film, raising all sorts of nitpicky concerns during the script reading with Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and the Sherman Brothers, Robert and Richard (played by B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman respectively) who are writing the Mary Poppins musical score.
Travers refuses to budge despite all the stops Disney pulls out. We continue to see flashbacks to what we infer is Travers’ childhood throughout the film. A childhood that has haunted her everyday of her life and that was the inspiration for Mary Poppins
As obtaining the rights to her book becomes increasingly difficult, it is only then that Disney reflects on his own childhood to find out the truth about Travers’ past. Travers finally signs over the rights and one of the most iconic films in history is made.
Saving Mr. Banks is a good film. It has gotten a lot of criticism for not being completely true to the actual events it’s based on. Well, the critics can say all they want but since when are these films perfectly true? I mean, let’s be honest, only bonafide documentaries are, perhaps, entirely true. This film is not a bonafide documentary. Nevertheless, I still liked it. 
I was a little concerned in the beginning because the film took some time to develop. The bits of comedy intertwined with the otherwise dramatic storyline were genius and both Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson are amazing in their respective roles. Rachel Griffiths was also in the film. She played Mack Granger in a favorite show of mine from the summer – “Camp” – which was shamefully cancelled by NBC. That was an added bonus for me. Saving Mr. Banks  is a film you should see. It has a little bit of something for everyone, whether you’re a Poppins fan or not.

I Give It An: A

Check Out The Trailer Here

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