Thursday, December 12, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks - Movie Review

Saving Mr. Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, is the story of author P.L. Travers during her time with Walt Disney while they attempted to translate her book Mary Poppins to the movie screen. Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks play the two main characters and Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and Colin Farrell also star in the movie.

Ms. P.L. Travers, author of the one and only Mary Poppins, has been resisting a persistent request by the one and only Walt Disney to purchase the rights to her book so it can be made into a movie. You see, Walt made a promise to his girls that they would some day see Mary Poppins on the big screen and he is prepared to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Ms. Travers, on the other hand, is very reluctant to see characters that hold such a dear place in her heart turned into dancing and singing cartoon characters.

After finally accepting an invitation to visit the Disney Studios, she flies from England to California fully prepared to not agree to terms unless she can have full creative control over the production. Walt agrees to this stipulation but he also has a plan to show her how he can take her written words and transform them into something magical for movie going audiences. Of course there are disagreements over songs, use of cartoons, and just about everything else Walt and his team are able to come up with, but eventually she begins to warm up to some of his ideas. At least until she realizes that Walt really has no idea what the story is truly about.

You ever sit down in a theater to watch a movie and, from the opening credits, you just know that you are about to witness something special. There has probably never been a person more qualified to provide that sense of wonder and excitement than Mr. Walt Disney himself and his screen version of Mary Poppins is a shining example of that ability. In telling the story of how that movie was made, director John Lee Hancock has brought a good dose of that magic to the screen as well along with an absolutely brilliant performance by Emma Thompson. From the top down, this is a first class production that can easily be enjoyed by both casual movie goers and Disney fanatics who will be clamoring to scour every detail of Walt Disney's first ever big screen portrayal.

Tom Hanks actually does an admirable job of making us believe we are seeing Walt Disney in the movie without going to far in trying to mimic his every detail. I was also very impressed with both Paul Giamatti and and Colin Farrell, Two actors I've never been real fond of, as they each give heartfelt performances that are impossible not to enjoy. Even with all of the great acting going on, what I really loved most about the movie is how the director so brilliantly takes us back and forth through two different times in Ms. Travers' life and we learn why she is the person we see fighting Mr. Disney every step of the way to preserve her story.

Over the course of a year, there are so many movies we are given an opportunity to see, but only a handful ever truly end up making a lasting impression for whatever reason. Saving Mr. Banks will definitely be something audiences will treasure for some time and will most likely take home at least a handful of trophies when the time comes. This is one of those movies you will remember fondly so be prepared for a magical ride through a very important time in the history of Walt Disney Pictures and make sure to stick around for a couple really nice surprises that play during the end credits.


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