Saving Mr. Banks Review – Fun but Inaccurate

Growing up with Disney (and loving their music), I’ve been captivated by their inner workings. I was completely unaware of the difficulties they had in making Mary Poppins. Seeing the trailer for this dramatization, I was very much intrigued. While the final product was a little warmer than reality, Saving Mr. Banks is something any Disney or Mary Poppins fan should see.

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Emma Thompson plays Poppins author P.L. Travers while Tom Hanks is Walt Disney himself. Travers was a very proper, yet obnoxious woman. Her portrayal was very accurate thanks to several records Disney had on file. The film takes place during the two weeks she spent at Disney studios working on the film with the Sherman brothers and Don DaGradi. Among her many inane requests, she wanted these writing sessions recorded. Thompson listened to these records to prepare for the role. These tapes were played during the end credits. They were uncanny.

It was fun watching Thompson interact with others throughout the film. Watching her act incredibly proper and British (synonyms) was the highlight of the movie, next to Colin Farrell’s performance. I typically don’t care for him, but here he did an excellent job as a warm, loving, yet troubled father. Seeing how caring he was to his daughters was heartbreaking given his final outcome. Some of the parallels between her child and adulthood felt a little heavy handed.

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My only complaint was Hanks’ performance. This was the first time Disney himself was portrayed on screen. I’m remember seeing clips of him introducing shows and movies replayed in my youth. There was something magical about him. Hanks didn’t seem to portray that same quality. There was nothing special about Disney here. It wasn’t bad, just serviceable. At least they mentioned Disney’s smoking habit.

I’m not sure what to make of the ending. Thompson’s Travers seemed to enjoy the movie after changing her curmudgeonly ways and wearing colorful clothing. The real life Travers hated the movie, never signing the rights away again, and making crazy stipulations in her will about the property. Again, dramatization so everything turns out happy and whimsical.

Julie Andrews, Walt Disney, and P.L. Travers

Julie Andrews, Walt Disney, and P.L. Travers

There were a couple aesthetic snafus that broke the immersion as well. The modern day Warner Bros and MGM logos could be spotted, along with palm trees in Australia. Seeing the attention to detail given Disney’s office and other settings, these spots stuck out.

I’m happy I’ve seen the movie, especially since I knew little about the subject beforehand. It was very enjoyable and worth seeing, though I’m not inclined for a repeating viewing. Again, any Poppins or Disney fan should see this at least once.

Side note: Someone in the theater was smoking up throughout the film. Because if there ever was a movie to do that in, it was this. @_@

Dramatized or accurate? What did you think of Hanks’ Disney? Comment below!

To shave, or not to shave. 

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