"Saving Mr Banks" (2013)

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Directed By: John Lee Hancock
Written By: Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
In Theatres: Dec 20, 2013
Runtime: 120 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Prompted by a promise made to his daughters, Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) sets about obtaining the movie rights to “Mary Poppins”, a quest that would ultimately span over 20 years.  However, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the author of the stories, is uncompromising when it comes to letting go of her beloved characters, having no intention of doing so. However, when the books stop selling and she finds herself in need of money, Travers reluctantly agrees to consider Disney's proposition.

Saving Mr Banks is a wonderful and warm film with fantastic performances from both Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be touched once more by the magic that became Marry Poppins. 

In my opinion, this could be one of Emma Thompsons best movie roles. She is truly fantastic. While portraying the author as not being an easy lady to get on with, she gives her so much heart and we feel for her so much predicament so much. While staying in the Disney hotel, everything appals her, from the heat to the multiple sugary foods, to the array of giddiness surrounding her both in her hotel room with the Disney toys, to the people hoping to bring her books to life. She makes it her business to put a stop to the production by any necessary means she can invent – even going so far as to ban the colour red because she had “simply gone off the colour”. But above any stipulations, was her strong feelings against any inclusion of animation in the project. 

It is through a series of flashbacks that we come to learn why she is so protective of her stories. Travers grew up under the care of a drunken but loving father (Colin Farrell) and tired mother (Ruth Wilson). At first these scenes seem very parallel to Emma Thompson’s dispute with Disney, but it is quickly made more obvious what these moments represent in a very touching way I thought. It is not a spoiler to say that Travers reinvented herself and Mary Poppins was based on a character who rescued the family and brought much needed happiness and wellbeing to their lives. It’s all in the name film’s name of course! 

As for Tom Hanks…If I was asked before seeing this film who I would have thought should play Walt Disney in a film, I would have scratched my head in response. But actually, now I can’t imagine anyone better suited. If nothing else, I thought the resemblance was quite uncanny. I can’t help but feel that it was a little wrong of Disney to be so insistent on obtaining the rights to Mary Poppins when P.L. Travers was so against it. 20 years is a long time! The man had determination! Tom Hanks didn’t try to make it look like the sun shone out his ass, nor did he portray him as a bad character. There was a good balance between both traits which I’m glad about.

My favourite aspect of the film was the development between P.L. Travers’ friendship with her chauffeur, Ralph. I thought it was so incredibly sweet. Of course, the inclusion of all the memorable songs from “A Spoon Full of Sugar” to “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” was so much fun to relive again as well. P.L. Travers’ likeness to Mr Banks and developing in the same way that he did in the Mary Poppins film was, whether true or simply written so for the purpose of this film, a nice inclusion as well. Seeing the development of what is one of my favourite Disney films was fun in itself. It certainly puts a new perspective on the classic tale.

This is just such a lovely film and deserved every success it garnered.

Final Rating: 4.5/5 Stars