We both went to the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” with our families, expecting to be bored by another Disney children’s movie, but we exited the theater feeling inspired and connected to the heart-felt struggle surrounding one of our favorite childhood movies, “Mary Poppins.”
In “Saving Mr. Banks,” Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) tries to convince a reluctant author, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), to sign over the film rights of her beloved book, “Mary Poppins.” After 20 years of convincing, Travers agrees to leave her comfortable home in England and travel to Los Angeles to meet with the film crew. She will sign off the rights if the movie is made to meet her specific requirements.
Upon arrival in Los Angeles, Travers is appalled when she is greeted by Mickey Mouse stuffed animals, frilly food, musicians and lyricists for the movie. She is averse to almost all of Disney’s plans down to the mustache of Mr. Banks (the man who hires Mary Poppins t0 take care of his kids) and the entire color red. People she meets are shocked by her blunt, confrontational attitude. The trip triggers Travers’ memories of an extremely difficult childhood, revealing which family member each Mary Poppins character is based on and why she is so protective of the story.
Emma Thompson received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture for her amazing portrayal of P.L Travers, a frigid woman with no love for the cartoon animation industry on which Disney prides himself. Despite her cold exterior, Travers is just a woman who is tied so personally to the characters of Mary Poppins that she is reluctant to hand over her story — essentially the story of her life.
What Travers does not know is that the characters whom she had only considered part of her own family have affected families around the world as well. Walt Disney is fighting to bring to life the characters who influenced his own children and many children like them for years.
Hanks is well-suited for the role of Disney, bringing the right hints of humor and compassion into his personality. Hanks provides the perfect opposition to Thompson’s austere manner.
The duo works well together to draw the audience in so that we feel every laugh, tear and new friendship along with them.
With clear transitions, the two stories of young Travers and adult Travers are woven together seamlessly throughout the movie.
The soundtrack helps evolve the emotion of the story from beginning to end. Composer Thomas Newman was nominated for Best Original Score for the 2014 Oscar Awards.
The movie we initially expected to be a waste of time turned out to be a heart-warming story of the twists and turns of a movie’s creation, a journey of loss, love and how a fictional character can become family to those who are lonely.
One hour and 26 minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2013
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some unsettling images
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Annie Buckley