Coming to theatres this holiday season from director John Lee Hancock and Walt Disney Studios comes the tale of humble beginning when SAVING MR. BANKS.
This film tells the story of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the author of the Mary Poppins books. Throughout the years Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has been trying to keep a promise to his daughters and get the rights from Travers to make his film of the same name.
Afraid that Disney is going to ruin her beloved Mary Poppins, Travers knows the only thing to do is fly from her home in England to Los Angeles to see what the plan is. Met at the airport by Ralph (Paul Giamatti), it is clear from the beginning that she isn’t going to make this trip easy on anyone.
Meeting with Disney, she also meets the writing and score staff of Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak). Demanding that she have final say puts these three men in the most uncomfortable state.
While clashing with everyone, the memories of her father Robert (Colin Farrell); mother Margaret (Ruth Wilson) and their lives together surface. Travers as a young woman adores her father with his free spirit – but not his free drinking ways.
Each memory makes Travers cling tighter to her creation of Mary Poppins and more afraid she will lose the thing she cherishes the most.
FINAL WORD: Thompson as P.L. Travers is a woman you want to strangle, well, not really but you’ll get my drift. She is testing, solid, unmovable and gives new meaning to ‘a force to be reckoned with’. Just when I thought I couldn’t take ANY more the film kicks into a transformative mode where Thompson pours on the redemption and truth of the character she is portraying. Well done.
Hanks as Disney is lovely, funny, patient, adorable and most of all touching. Standing back and allowing the situation to progress naturally, his character of Disney just wants to do the one thing he’s good at – make a family film. ‘Just call me Walt’ is stuck in my head every time I heard the word Disney now and I find it endearing – just as much as I do Hanks in everything he does.
Farrell as Robert is as much of a dreamer as Disney himself. It struck me later that Travers should have understood everything Disney was about knowing that she’d seen the very thing in her own father. Farrell plays him gently but still a man hiding his own demons. I honestly haven’t seen him do this since his role in ONDINE.
Whitford as DaGradi is charming; Sherman as Novak is sincerely lovely and Schwartzman as Sherman just enchanted me when he sang my favorite song from the film “Feed the Birds”.
Giamatti as Ralph gets my heart stealer award (but then again he manages to do that with most things he does). His role could be considered small I suppose yet is emotionally big in every way. From humble driver to loving father – this is a guy we all would want to know!
Other cast include: Kathy Baker as Tommie, Steven Cabral as Clerk, Dendrie Taylor as Lillian Disney, Victoria Summer as Julie Andrews, Ronan Vibert as Diarmuid Russell, Andy McPhee as Randolph, Michelle Arthur as Polly and Kristopher Kyer as Dick Van Dyke.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give SAVING MR. BANKS four and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. Seriously, can I say charming, endearing, beautifully done enough? Probably not but each word is very true. From the story idea, the stellar cast and to the period piece set that brought me back to some of the happiest moments of an otherwise totally screwed up childhood.
Sunday nights at my house were filled with ‘the wonderful world of Disney’ and seeing Mary Poppins at the Palm Theatre in Imperial Beach are more than enough reasons for me to recommend SAVING MR. BANKS.
In the end – where her book ends, their story begins!
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