Review: Saving Mr. Banks honors the legacy of Walt Disney

SAVING MR. BANKS

Saving Mr. Banks pays tribute to the Disney legacy–one that even Walt Disney would be proud of.

Starring Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and Colin Farrell, the untold true story of how Mary Poppins made to to the big screen makes its way to audiences everywhere. Mary Poppins almost never made it. Walt Disney made a promise to his daughters in the 1940s that he would make Mary Poppins into a movie. For 20 years, he tried to get the rights but P.L. Travers said no.

Walt Disney (Hanks) is a man of his word. When he makes a promise to his daughters, he keeps it no matter how long it takes him. Disney went on a 20 year quest to obtain the rights to Mary Poppins but he was not anticipating P.L. Travers (Thompson) to be a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer with zero intentions of letting her magical nanny be adapted to film–especially an animated film.
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Travers runs into a problem in 1961. Her books are not selling and she needs money so she agrees, reluctantly, to head to Los Angeles to hear what Disney has to say. It’s a testy relationship between the two.

Over two weeks in 1961, Disney pulls out everything. The storyboards. The Sherman Brothers. It’s an all-out onslaught but Travers doesn’t budge. She leaves for England with the film rights still not sold. So what does Disney do? He takes the next flight and knocks on her door.

It’s in England where Disney and Travers begin to bond when he reaches back into his own childhood growing up in Missouri and elsewhere and discovers the truth about Mr. Banks. Ultimately, they make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history–one that was released on Blu-Ray for the first time this past Tuesday.

Throughout the film, we flashback to Travers’ life growing up.

Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith did a spectacular job with the script while John Lee Hancock did another find job directing.

The film will opens today in U.S. theaters with a limited release before expanding to a wide release on December 20, 2013.

In Saving Mr. Banks, it is the first film to depict Walt Disney on screen and Hanks does a mighty fine job.

It turns out that P.L. Travers’ father was a banker in real life and was the basis for the character of Mr. Banks. Travers was not happy with how the Shermans and screenwriter Don DaGradi wrote the character but they were able to win her over with the song, “Let’s Go Fly A Kite,” that ends up being sung as the film comes to an end. In a way, Mr. Banks is saved.

Richard and Robert Sherman are wonderfully depicted by Schwartzman and B.J. Novak. The Sherman Brothers won two Oscars during the 1965 ceremonies for their score and “Chim Chim-Cher-ee.”

While the film ends just after the world premiere in 1964, neither Dick Van Dyke or Julie Andrews are seen outside of the Mary Poppins footage that is shown on screen.

Stay as the credits start to roll to hear the real P.L. Travers talking about the script.

Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Annie Rose Buckley, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths, Kathy Baker
Director: John Lee Hancock
Producers: Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer
Executive Producers: Paul Trijbits, Andrew Mason, Troy Lum, Christine Langan
Written by: Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith
Running time: 2 hours

Tags: Annie Rose Buckley B.J. Novak Bradley Whitford Colin Farrell Disney Emma Thompson Entertainment Jason Schwartzman John Lee Hancock Kathy Baker Movies Paul Giamatti Rachel Griffiths Ruth Wilson Saving Mr. Banks Tom Hanks

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