The story of how Walt Disney courted P.L. Travers into letting him option the rights to Mary Poppins is brought to the screen in this non-fiction drama starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, and Colin Farrell. A doting father, Walt Disney (Hanks) promises his adoring daughters that he will bring their favorite fictional nanny Mary Poppins to the big screen. Little does Walt realize that surly author P.L. Travers has no intention of seeing her most famous creation bastardized on the big screen, a fact that makes keeping his promise a difficult endeavor. Years later, however, when Travers' book sales begin to slow, dwindling finances drive her to schedule a meeting with Disney to discuss the film rights to the beloved story. For two weeks in 1961, a determined Disney does his absolute best to convince Travers that the film version of Mary Poppins will be a wondrous and respectful adaptation, meanwhile the author only grows more convinced that she has made the right move in preventing the proposed film adaptation. Later, just when it begins to appear that the rights to Mary Poppins have slipped through his fingers, the ingenious Disney reflects back on his childhood, and realizes that a sensitive chapter from Travers' youth could be the key to clinching the deal. Bradley Whitford, Paul Giamatti, and Jason Schwartzman co-star.~Jason Buchanan
Saving Mr. Banks is the kind of film that Hollywood ought to love. It's about how one of the most beloved movies in movie history got made. And it's the first time Walt Disney has ever been portrayed in a movie, so that's saying a lot. And, just to put all of this perspective, when Disney first heard that the movie was being made, they're first reaction was to buy it and squash it. See, there's a reason Walt has never been portrayed onscreen before. However, after looking at it, they decided not only not to do that but to produce it! It's that kind of movie.
And it's good. I mean, it's really good. I know it is because my wife cried through about the last third of it. I will be extremely surprised if it doesn't get the best picture Oscar this year. Overall, from what we've seen so far, I think it's most well rounded show out there. And it leaves you feeling good after having had a good cry.
Not to get into what the movie is about, but it's about how Walt Disney convinced P. L. Travers to give him the rights to make Mary Poppins, something it took him 20 years to do. Along with that story, you see the story of the defining moment of Travers' childhood, which shows why Poppins was so important to her. From what I've seen from fact-checking, the movie is fairly accurate, which is another plus. A big one, actually. They did have hours and hours of audio recordings from sessions with Travers and some of the people working on the movie (because she insisted that everything be recorded), so they wouldn't have had a good excuse for it not being accurate.
So, first, let's talk Tom Hanks. Oh, man, Tom Hanks was... incredible. There were moments, especially when they showed him watching himself on the old black and white TV show Walt introduced, where he was just like Disney. And, from everything I've read, Hanks did capture Walt to an amazing extent. I do know that the folks at Disney Studios shaved Hanks' mustache to the exact dimensions that Walt wore his. His only being called a supporting actor for this role, but I think it's a safe bet that he will at least get a nomination for it. I will not at all be surprised if he wins. Actually, I hope he does. [I haven't seen Captain Phillips, yet, but he's also being talked about for a best actor nomination for that one.]
Then, we have to talk Emma Thompson, and she may just deserve best actress for her performance. That's a tough call for me, though, because Sandra Bullock carried an entire movie virtually by herself, and that's an impressive feat. However, I'm not sure anyone else could have pulled off Travers the way Thompson did. It was a great performance, and she and Hanks were perfect together.
Paul Giamatti was lovable as Ralph, the chauffeur. This role probably wasn't especially difficult for Giamatti, but he was perfect in it. Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak were awesome as Richard and Robert Sherman. Not the parts called for too much, but it was great to see them in the movie. They were good, too. Especially this one part with Novak, but I don't want to spoil it, so you'll just have to see it; then, I'll tell you which one.
Which brings us to Colin Farrell. Farrell is one of those underrated actors who is almost always excellent despite the horrible movies he's in. I mean, Alexander wasn't really his fault, and how can you blame him for not turning down Total Recall? At any rate, he's wonderful and wonderfully tragic as Travers Goff. He was my favorite part of the movie. I mentioned that my wife cried, but there were some scenes of Goff with his daughter where I almost cried. That's kind of saying a lot for me.
I loved this movie. Of the possible best picture nominees, if you have to pick just one, this is the one I would recommend. Sure, Gravity is visually amazing, but this movie has heart that Gravity just doesn't have, no matter how you feel about Walt Disney. And let me make this clear, the movie is not about Walt Disney; the script was written (and not changed) before Disney (the Company) had a hand in it; the movie is about Travers and how she was ultimately convinced to allow Walt to make Mary Poppins into a movie. It's definitely worth seeing.
A surprisingly mature look behind a Disney classic
Five years later, and I'm still just in awe of this movie. With strong writing, amazing performances and plenty of emotion to go around, I fell in love with this film right away. What really stuck with me was Disney's ability to show certain aspects of their history that aren't sugarcoated with the traditional Disney "magic," but still come across all the more strong. That said, they do definitely take certain liberties with how the production of Mary Poppins unfolded, but if you know that going in and are willing to embrace the "based on a true story" aspect, there is just so much to love here.
Let me start by saying this is meant for adults--there's some things kids don't need to see just yet. Regardless of the adult's age though, if you've loved Mary Poppins at any point in your life, this is a must see. It will make you feel grown up ways about the story that took serious life into the imagination children dream of, and is the origin story behind it. Also a sweet tale of a daughter's love for her father from her perspective as a child, something we also lose as adults.
My wife and I are both Disney fans. While Mary Poppins has charmed children of all ages, it isn't one of our favorite films so a movie about the making of Mary Poppins had a long way to go to hold our attention. Saving Mr. Banks did that very well.
I had no idea the back story of how Disney's Mary Poppins came to be was so fascinating. There's always something special about a film that depicts an actual event. Tom Hanks plays a believable Walt Disney and the film seems to portray him as the shrewd businessman and visionary he is often remembered for being. He was on a personal mission to make that film and nothing was going to stop him - even the obstinate author of the book and copyright owner of the characters.
Nothing special about the disc. As with most Blu-ray discs it looks great and sounds great, but no 3D or Dolby Atmos, most likely because they wouldn't add much to this storytelling.
Be sure to watch the credits. They put a terrific bow on the package of this story!
The DIsney organization advised the BBC production team, but the British folks made their own artistic choices in this parable based on the P. L. Travers and Walt Disney encounters that led to the movie "Mary Poppins". Neither had comfortable childhoods. Both triumphed over personal pain and produced art enchanting millions.
The script smooths over Travers' real reaction to the Disnification of her archly mystical Edwardian nanny. However, her clashes and reconciliations with Walt and his people give Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks wondrously deep waters to swim in. The end sound track over the titles contains authentic recordings of Travers in fully cry demanding and debating with Disney's creative folks.
An ultimately satisfying meditation on how our lives become a statement about the world.
This is not a movie about the making of Mary Poppins, it is a movie about how Mary Poppins was able to be made. As a dramatization, it is not 100% historically accurate, but you get a sense why PL Travers was being such a stickler for detail over her creation. Be warned, this is not a happy Disney movie, but a peak behind the curtain. While kids can certainly watch the movie, they will probably be bored.
Both Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson give stellar performances. It is obvious that they both did their homework on the mannerisms and speech patterns of their subjects. Hanks, unfortunately, still sounds like himself and not Walt Disney, but that is the only flaw I found. All of the rest of the cast, similarly, give wonderful performances.
I grew up in a household that did not subscribe to the magic of Disney, and watched this for the first time with my wife a few weeks before our first trip together to Walt Disney World (my first trip ever). I can't speak to its historical accuracy, but it's got great performances and the break into Act Three moment grabs you right by the feels. Not one for the very little kids, as it gets into some harder family issues, but for older kids and adults who have some kid at heart left, it's a great movie.
It takes a good hour into this movie before you start to really get a feeling as to what the driving force was behind P.L.Travers ( portrayed by Emma Thompson ), and you finally get some sympathy for the author and her tragic childhood in Australia. Until then, you keep asking yourself why Walt Disney ( portrayed by Tom Hanks ) would have put up with so much of her attitude...she treats every one at Disney studios as if they were second class citizens, and for a woman who demanded so much of others, she has little regard for anyone's feelings but her own. But when Disney himself finally discovers the connection between the " Mr. Banks " of the title and the author herself, it's a testament to Thompson's performance that the viewer actually finds themselves understanding, if not entirely excusing her behavior....over all, a good movie about the creative process, and how certain characters can be so ingrained into their creator's very essence.