Movie Review: ‘Saving Mr. Banks’


Last night I was invited to attend a special screening of the new film Saving Mr. Banks on the Disney Studios lot in Burbank, CA and I jumped at the chance to attend. The film opened here in LA last Friday but I wanted to hold off and see the film on the Disney lot because, Hello, how often does one get to see a Disney film that was made on that very same studio lot. I invited my friend Adriana to attend the screening with me and we had the best time. Overall, I really enjoyed Saving Mr. Banks but I have to confess, the story is much darker than I anticipated that it would be.

It’s pretty common knowledge that Walt Disney had a difficult time convincing author P.L. Travers to allow him to adapt her book into one of his films. This movie is a fictionalized version of the way events took place in the creation of the film version of Mary Poppins. I have to be completely honest and say that Mrs. Travers does not come off well in this movie. While I’m sure some poetic license was employed, Travers in the film comes across as a bitter pill of an obstinate and proud woman who, IMHO, exhibited obvious signs of the Electra Complex. Now, I don’t want to say too much since many of you have yet to see the film but it seemed plainly obvious to me that P.L. Travers suffered from what seemed to be an unhealthy love for her flawed father (which explains some of her behavior later in adulthood). Like, stuff gets kinda dark in this movie. And, even thru it all, Travers never comes around and appreciates the work that Disney did for Mary Poppins (she disliked the way the movie turned so much that she never agreed to allow any of her other books to be adapted into films). The story is very compelling and the acting is superb. I’m not the biggest Tom Hanks fan but he’s very good as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (they even included a scene where Disney is seen smoking a cigarette, a secret that he fiercely protected his whole professional life). I highly recommend this movie but, honestly, it may just make you want to watch Mary Poppins and forget all about how horribly bitter P.L. Travers was.

Our enjoyment of the film was due partly to the fact that we got to see Saving Mr. Banks on the Disney Studios lot:

We were able to see the movie in the place where both Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks were created. My love for living in LA is due to many reasons but being able to experience things like screenings on the Disney lot really remind me why LA is the only place I want to live.

My plans for today are still taking shape. I think I’m meeting up with Eileen for a movie night so that should be fun. I hope YOUR Wednesday is a good one. Happy Humps!

  • blaqfury

    I was gonna see this on Saturday, but after your review I’m not so sure. I want to see happy giddy movies so close to Christmas. Which is what comes to mind when I think Disney and Mary Poppins. Hmmm. I have to rethink this. Thanks for the review.

    • @blaqfury — Yeah, there’s not a lot of “feel good”ness in this movie. I spent most of my time really disliking P.L. Travers.

  • MyLovelyBeatles

    Have you noticed that the backstory hasn’t really appeared in the advertising? You wouldn’t have any idea that Colin Farrell is even in it! Yeah, it’s definitely a darker story than you’d think. I still enjoyed it though.

    • @MyLovelyBeatles — I actually like that the backstory is a bit of a surprise. The movie really is about the creation of ‘Mary Poppins’ the film but Travers’s past really had a lot to do with her resistance to having the film made and that had to be put in the story. So many movies tell you everything about them in their advertising, it’s nice to have a movie with some surprise, you know?

  • Paul

    I saw Emma Thompson interviewed about the picture, where she talked about how P.L. Travers insisted her sessions with the music composers be recorded, and how in preparation for the part she tortured herself by listening to all those recordings. Emma’s description of P.L. Travers matches your description pretty well, so I would give her credit for accuracy.

    • @Paul — At the end of the film, they play those actual recordings of Travers and the songwriters over a portion of the credits. It’d be really fascinating to be able to hear the recordings in full.

  • Carcotas

    Saving Mr Banks tells the story of Walt Disney’s battle to get the rights to make Mary Poppins into a movie. I wasn’t expecting to like this but was completely blown away.

    It is beautifully put together, is hilarious in parts and very touching and emotional at other stages, but is not overly sappy or cheesy.

    There are some outstanding performances here. Emma Thompson plays Mrs Travers beautifully – a cantankerous and stubborn lady, yet you can’t dislike her. Tom Hanks does a good job of playing Walt Disney – a tough role for anyone but he seems to suit it, so long as you can get past the terrible fake southern accent which is worse than Dick Van Dyke’s attempts at an English accent in Mary Poppins.

    However the stand-out performance is, surprisingly, delivered by Colin Farrell as Mrs Travers’ father. He brings amazing range and emotion to a character that is simultaneously a loving, sweet father and a man caged in by life and personal demons.

    Go see it for yourself when it comes out at the end of November. I’m looking forward to watching it again.

    More about the movie you can also find it here