Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
The ultimate Disney movie, produced by Disney, about the production of a Disney movie, with Walt Disney as a main character, some have objected that it’s an infomercial for the corporate giant but I had a different perception. I found it engrossing, enjoyable, and interesting, with excellent acting (Tom Hanks is very credible as Walt, but the dominant character is played by Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers, the auther of the Mary Poppins book whom Walt has been trying to convince to let him create the movie for 20 years). It’s set in 1963 during a couple of weeks when Mrs. Travers deigns to come to Hollywood and give Walt a chance, and is intertwined with flashbacks to the author’s childhood (alternating enchanting and tragic) in the Australia sticks. Parallels are drawn, and the Mr. Banks of the title, superbly played by Colin Powell, is a key figure in the author’s creative, social and emotional roadblocks. Paul Giamatti is excellent as her dedicated limo driver, and the Mad Men style of workplace is a backdrop to providing insights into the creative process, and helps you realize how great some of the original musical numbers are.
Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5
Saving Mr. Banks gives you two good movies for the price of one! Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) tries to cajole P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) into providing movie making rights and collaborating as Disney tries to turn Travers series of books into the Mary Poppins movie. In a series of flashbacks from Travers’ childhood, you see the key events and her relationship with her father (Colin Farrell) that influenced her work and outlook on life.
As portrayed in the film, Travers was demanding, the collaboration was difficult, and her giving rights to Disney was not a given until late in the process. Some accounts say Travers was even more difficult to work with than portrayed in the movie, and ultimately she does come across as a sympathetic figure (with the help of a totally fictional character played by Paul Giamatti) that helps to humanize her. Despite the difficulties and some of her ridiculous requests (that lead to much of the comedy in the movie), the collaboration did result in a better movie.
The performances are good, especially Emma Thompson. The basic facts of the movie are pretty accurate, although how they portray various characters is open for debate (this is a Disney movie, so there is some conflict of interest). This is a moving movie and worth seeing.