When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Traver’s Mary Poppins, he made them a promise – one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.
George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.
Who doesn’t love Walt Disney? Every day you’re confronted with it and most people have grown up with it. Almost every day I watch a Disney cartoon at home and still look with admiration, amazement and sometimes childlike joy at the magic that takes place on the screen. It’s a bit forced that I spend my time on that. Especially when you have two little kids of 2 and 4 hopping around at home, begging everyday for another Mickey Mouse, Dumbo, or ask me “Dad please put on that movie with those two dogs that eat spaghetti”.
The only Disney product I really hate is the movie “Mary Poppins” . And that for the following reasons. I can’t stand Julie Andrews anymore, because of her contribution to “The Sound of Music”. That’s that Brady Bunch movie with a whole bunch of kids in it, with a lot of campfire songs. Every year I have to endure this monstrosity because it’s indefinitely shown on television at the end of the year. Looking at Julie Andrews gives me now spontaneous abdominal cramps. Dick Van Dyke is reason number two. That guy is constantly walking around with an enormous smile as if he has swallowed a coat hanger. Every dentist probably begins to drool spontaneously when this walking Colgate advertising figure appears on the screen. And third, I hate musicals ( For more information about this, see “The Great Gatsby” review). “Mary Poppins” is the only Disney product that will always fail to impress me.
Now it appears to be that this “Savings Mr. Banks” is the story about the struggle between Walt and the author of “Mary Poppins”, PL Travers, to get the film rights in order to make a movie from this famous book. To my surprise it surely wasn’t bad and I can only express my praise on the performances of the protagonists.
The highlight is of course Emma Thompson, who plays an outstanding role as the haughty, transverse and unyielding Travers. If Travers really behaved like this, I’d sent her immediately straight back to London. What a nasty aunt she is. If the tape recordings at the end are authentic, you can only conclude that it was indeed such a monster of a woman. Thompson plays in a convincing way the writer who’s to proud to give her favorite character away, so that it would only be used, according to her opinion, for commercial reasons. Sometimes she’s also a fragile and sad person since she carries a terrible secret from her past as we’ll notice during the movie. Whether these are real facts, I don’t know, but it would be a plausible explanation for her behavior. There are some really funny moments in this film like the scene where one of the musicians slips away in a sneaky fast way the music sheet with the title “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Superb.
Tom Hanks shows again a natural way of interpretation. As if he actually was Walt Disney. For me, Hanks is currently one of the best actors in Hollywood. He can fully empathize with the role imposed and transform in such a way that he becomes one with the character. Whether he is a captain, a castaway or a stranger at an airport, it seems as if he has many years of experience with this matter. A unique actor with a unique gift.
Colin Farell is also brilliant as the father of Travers. A key figure in the story who constantly tries to enchant his daughter with fairy-tales and fabricated stories. It’s his way to protect her from the horrible and hostile reality of everyday. It’s superb to see his mood swings. A good-hearted man who’s knocked out by his alcohol addiction. And finally has a real impact on the future of his daughter.
Paul Giamatti took care of the role as personal driver of Travers. A captivating role with a sad impact. He’s also the first that made a personal contact with her and ultimately was the only one who she appreciated and she could tolerate. Brilliant supporting role.
The only drawback, but at the same time I realize that it was not technically possible to achieve it in another way, was the constant interruptions by flashbacks. In this way, the past and the influence it had, got interwoven in a beautiful way with the present. The sad thing is that this slowed down the rhythm of the story. Not in an annoying way, but still annoying to me after a while.
Towards the end a few handkerchief moments appear. But that was to be expected. But nevertheless, I still enjoyed this film. A historical narrative that explains the evolution of the movie “Mary Poppins“. I’ve seen the movie now, It didn’t nerve me, but I’ll still maintain the tradition I have with the original movie. I’ll probably never see it again!
My rating 7/10
Links : IMDB