Saving Mr. Banks is a movie for Disney fans, those who are fascinated with Walt Disney’s life, and for those who love the story of how movies are developed. There is no denying that I love Disney and Saving Mr. Banks is one movie I was looking forward to seeing for a long time to see Walt Disney portrayed in a movie.
When Walt Disney’s daughters read the Mary Poppins books and is fascinated by them, he makes a promise to bring the book to life in a movie. For twenty years Walt courts P.L. Travers and every year she says no but with money running out she decides to leave her home and travel to Hollywood to see what ridiculous plans he has to turn her movie into an animated and dancing cartoon. Before she even arrives, the audience is given a quick glimpse into her life that will make mothers who have ever flown with an infant cringe.
Emma Thompson delivers a beautiful and Oscar worthy performance as Mrs. P.L. Travers, the only person to ever enter the gates of Disneyland with a frown.
P.L. Travers is a cantankerous woman who insists that everything be done only one way. Hers. Her refusal to cooperate makes it difficult on every person related to the production and she only makes things worse by insisting every rehearsal and meeting is taped for her records.
Names play a huge importance and is so telling about the characters. You cannot call Mrs. Travers by her first name of Pam. Never Pamela. Always Mrs. Travers. Likewise with Mary Poppins. Never ever just Mary. Walt Disney, on the other hand, insists that everyone call him Walt but Mrs. Travers refuses. So begins the tense relationship between the two.
Every single detail is scrutinized by Mrs. Travers. There comes a point when Bob, played by B.J. Novak, frankly calls Mrs. Travers out on what she is saying and challenges her. “Does it matter?” is one of those pivotal moments where someone finally stands up to her. She does not take it kindly and dismisses him to the hallway like a two year old.
I stopped seeing Tom Hanks and started seeing Walt Disney.
Tom Hanks is a Hollywood legend portraying a Hollywood legend but I feared I would only hear the voice of Woody the Sheriff or some of his other famous roles. Saving Mr. Banks is one of Tom Hank’s finest role as an actor and one of my all-time favorites. My only wish is that we would have seen more of him in the movie.
Understanding the title of the movie comes through flashbacks that P.L. Travers experiences where we see Colin Farrell playing a father who is absolutely adored by his little girl, despite his obvious flaws.
Paul Giamatti plays Ralph, the kind hearted limousine driver who escorts Travers during her stay in Hollywood, and their scenes together are both comical and endearing. Even though Mrs. does not smile, Paul’s smile and love of the weather forecast tells a beautiful story of his own life. Giamatti expertly captures an adult turning into a child’s overflowing excitement as they drive through the gates of Disneyland and see Walt Disney waiting for them.
Disney history buffs will love Saving Mr. Banks.
Seeing Mickey Mouse from the early 60’s is just a treasure. Going inside the Disney Studios to see the drawings, set, and how it all began was fascinating to watch. I absolutely loved seeing the original Mickey Mouse stuffed animals and the little hidden Mickeys.
Do I need to watch Mary Poppins before seeing Saving Mr. Banks?
If you are a child whose parents never introduced you to Mary Poppins and somehow managed to go through adulthood without seeing this classic film, then you have absolutely no idea who Mr. Banks is and it is highly recommended you see Mary Poppins before watching Saving Mr. Banks. You will understand more of the humor and it will enrich your experience.
For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.
It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.
SPOILER ALERT (Parental warnings to PG-13 rating)
Is this a movie for children?
Saving Mr. Banks is rated PG-13. Much of the movie is acceptable for teens, but it just might not hold their interest unless they are huge Disney fans. One scene does have Walt Disney saying damn and he is seen smoking a cigarette. There are a few scenes that can be terrifying to children. In a desperate attempt, the daughter follows a distraught Mrs. Banks in the darkness to the river as Mrs. Banks tries to drown herself with her daughter going in after her. Alcoholism is very transparent and Travers Goff dies dramatically with quite a bit of blood.
Be sure to stay until the end of the credits to hear the real P.L. Travers.
Saving Mr. Banks is a beautiful movie about Walt Disney’s ability to spread pixie dust to even the hardest of hearts. Walt truly had a magical touch in order to convince P.L. Travers to give him the rights to bring Mary Poppins to life, with a little help from everyone’s favorite mouse. You will laugh and you will cry even though you already know the ending. Now we know why the Disney magic truly captivates the child in all of us.
I received media passes to attend the movie screening and write the review.