Review: Saving Mr. Banks


Director:John Lee Hancock

Cast:Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti

Running Time:125 Minutes


If supercalifragilisticexpialidocious describes the fun you have while watching Mary Poppins, then the word that describes the experience of watching Saving Mr. Banks is okaywhatever. Walt Disney Pictures proudly presents"”Walt Disney himself! But, in case you don't know who Walt Disney is, it's Tom Hanks with a mustache!

Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. Travers is very reluctant to give into Disney's advances to turn her beloved book into a movie. Watching Travers go into snobby-British lady mode will make you want to throw several umbrellas at the screen, but the film jumps back into her childhood to show us she wasn't always that way. In fact, she was a very precious girl. Travers' past is the link to why the story of Mary Poppins exists. But the story on screen isn't able to capture this as well as it could have. It feels like you're watching two different but underdeveloped, films.

In the film's present, Travers is teamed with the potential (and likable) Mary Poppins screenwriting-songwriting trio (Jason Schwartzman, B. J. Novak, and Bradley Whitford), but those scenes displaying the creative process becomes repetitive rapidly. The opportunity to get to know these characters better is also missed. It also misses in this area with other characters. It tries to address it with Travers' awkward acquaintanceship with her personal driver (Giamatti), but its earnest attempt is smothered by the film's drive to make you feel sympathy for her.

I won't be surprised when people fall for it. The only thing you should fall for is Thomas Newman's effective score"”even though it's used to force out your sympathies. This story should be heartwarming and make you shed a tear or two, but the only person who should (and does) is Travers herself.

Instead of spending so much time in the past (where we see good work from Colin Farrell), we need to get closer to the adult version of Travers. You can't hide behind flashbacks to do that. We need to see her work through her struggles in the present. Instead of having Tom Hanks pop in and out as Walt Disney, let's get a real sense of his magic. We're told why the story of Mary Poppins is important to him, but all I see is Tom Hanks playing a shrewd man with a mustache.


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