Saving Mr. Banks is the story behind the making of the 1964 classic, Mary Poppins. It focuses on Walt Disney’s (played by the amazing Tom Hanks) efforts to procure the rights to the Mary Poppins character from P.L. Travers (played by the incredible Emma Thompson). The supporting cast includes Paul Giamatti, Colin Farrell, B.J. Novak, and Jason Schwartzman.
When I first heard about this movie, I was sort of worried. I was not worried about the outcome of the movie. With such a great cast, I knew that as a movie, the result would be good. What I was afraid of was the idea of the movie making Walt Disney seem like a sweet, fun-loving man, as opposed to the Nazi-sympathizer that people make him out to be. Now I know that over the past decade, evidence has surfaced that could allow one to argue that he is not what people say he is, but it is still a very delicate issue with a great many people, which is what worried me. By the end of the movie, I don’t believe this to be an issue. Disney is portrayed in a positive light for sure, but he is not made out to be some saint. He has his character flaws just like everyone else, which I can understand.
As far as the movie is concerned, this is great fun. I suppose if you don’t like Mary Poppins you might not like this movie, but then again, if you don’t like Mary Poppins, you have bigger issues to deal with. I love Mary Poppins, so I was absolutely able to relate to the magic that this movie shows in it. The script is well written and heart-warming, and the acting was brilliant (especially that of Emma Thompson). The music was also amazing (a lot of it was songs from the Mary Poppins movie, which made it that much better).
Saving Mr. Banks essentially has 2 plots: The main one, in which Disney and Mrs. Travers fight for rights to the character, and the second one, which is a series of flashbacks depicting Mrs. Travers’ past. Both stories have their own developments, and emotional climaxes. They really complimented eachother, resulting in a richer story.
For those who may have read it, my review for Captain Phillips (which can be found here), I tried to make it clear that Tom Hanks has really still got it. He almost never disappoints, which is rare in Hollywood. And this movie is no exception. Hanks has such a warm presence on screen when he wants to, which makes his performance in this movie so much better. He has such a big presence, which can be bad, in that it can drown out the other performances in the movie if the other actors do not have the same kind of presence. Fortunately, Emma Thompson has it as well. She is really one of the best actresses right now. She really brings life to all her roles in a way that very few actors can. She brought that life into her role in this movie as well, which is part of what made it as good as it is.
One of the best things about this movie is the fact that it really paints Mary Poppins in a new light, and brings more depth to all of the characters in the story, as well as the movie overall. After watching this, I will see Mary Poppins differently, in a good way. Knowing more about the Travers’ life really makes the characters deeper and more easy to relate to. The main change that this movie makes me see in Mary Poppins is that she is not there to save the children (which is a main aspect in the movie. Watch the movie to find out more, I don’t want to spoil it).
All in all, Saving Mr. Banks is a great movie to watch with your family, or alone. It’s not the best movie of the year (although to be fair, this has been a great year for movies), but it is for sure worth the watch, especially if you like Mary Poppins, Tom Hanks, or Emma Thompson. Watching this movie made me want to pop in my Mary Poppins VHS the second this was over.