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After watching Saving Mr. Banks, I can honestly say that it is one of those films that has much more to it than meets the eye. From the trailers, this may seem like a lovable Disney re-telling of how one of the world’s most beloved stories was put on film. However, there is another side to it; an usettling, often saddening side. Though this had no effect on the quality of the film itself, which I thought was great overall, viewers need to understand this before going to see it with a chip on their shoulder.
Directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side), Saving Mr. Banks recounts the life of P. L. Travers (portrayed by Emma Thompson), author of the children’s book Mary Poppins, and the story of how it was put on the big screen. Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has been trying for years to get the rights to Marry Poppins in order to adapt it to film, though Travers has turned him down time and time again. She finally travels to Los Angeles to meet with Disney, though she still has a feeling of intrusion, and makes that known by making it very hard for Disney’s creative team to work with her. One of the few people she enjoys encountering on her visit is her optimistic driver Ralph (Paul Giamatti). About half of the movie is served by revisiting Travers’ past via flashback, in which she has to deal with a drunken but loving father (Colin Farrell) and the nanny in which she based Mary Poppins after. Travers must overcome these memories in order to make the film that would end up being loved for generations to come.
Like I said, the story is more of a way of showing Travers’ rather dark childhood. And although Disney has a big role in the story, it’s not all about the acclaimed company. The movie has well-balanced focuses and intentions, and is a wonderful film to watch. Walt Disney Studios doesn’t necessarily aim for critical acclaim, but what it never fails at is making timeless classics; this being yet another example.
My favorite part of Saving Mr. Banks was maybe obviously Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Walt Disney. Hanks is one of those remarkable actors who can take on just about any role thrown at him. When he’s given a role as iconic as Disney, you can’t help but enjoy it. The supporting cast is also really enjoyable, and Paul Giamatti’s performance was easily my second favorite part.
As for Emma Thompson, I found her role to be very agitating and exhausting to watch, but through the latter half of the film, we see her fidgety character dissected, gaining more and more sides to her character as the movie progresses.
Even though Saving Mr. Banks explores a very human and emotional side, it doesn’t completely stray from the magic Disney has always been known for. Showing an age-appropriate Disneyland, character toys and posters, the film really captures the magic and era of 1960’s-era Disney.
If you are going to the movies with the desire for good storytelling, Saving Mr. Banks should be one of your options to consider. Any fan of Disney will appreciate this movie, and I feel like it will stand the test of time as yet another Disney classic.
My Reel Rating – 7.3/10
Written by Josh Sazin on January 11th, 2014