|SAVING MR. BANKS (director/writer: John Lee Hancock; screenwriters: Kelly Marcel/Sue Smith; cinematographer: John Schwartzman; editor: Mark Livolsi; music: Thomas Newman; cast: Tom Hanks (Walt Disney), Emma Thompson (P.L. Travers), Annie Rose Buckley (Helen 'Ginty' Goff), Colin Farrell (Travers Goff), Ruth Wilson (Margaret Goff), Paul Giamatti (Ralph, driver), Jason Schwartzman (Richard Sherman), BJ Novak (Robert Sherman), Kathy Baker (Tommie), Bradley Whitford (Don DaGradi); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Alison Owen/Ian Collie/Philip Steuer; Walt Disney Studio; 2013)|
behind-the-scenes drama of how in 1961 "Mary
Poppins" was filmed by Walt Disney and
released in 1964."
by Dennis Schwartz
Lee Hancock ("The Rookie"/"The Blind
Side"/"The Alamo") joyfully helms for Disney Studio
this untold intriguing look behind-the-scenes drama of
how in 1961 "Mary Poppins" was filmed by Walt Disney
and released in 1964. It was Disney's first picture to
combine animation with live action. It's cleverly
co-written by Hancock, Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith.
Travers (Emma Thompson), the
sourpuss Brit writer of the popular children's book
Mary Poppins, needs money when no more royalties from
her book are in the works and after turning down for
the last 20 years Walt Disney's (Tom Hanks) request to
buy the film rights, something he promised his book
loving two daughters, a new opportunity arises and
Disney makes a deal with the unfriendly and bossy Mrs.
Travers that gives her the upper hand. He's taken
aback how when she comes to LA is bitchy and
uncompromising about any changes to make MP whimsy
without gravitas. She's also aghast that Walt (someone
she can't stomach for his manipulative superficial
cartoons) is making it with animation and as a
musical. Travers is furthermore upset that Dick Van
Dyke is cast as the star. For two weeks Walt,
animator/screenwriter Don DaGradi and the
song writing Sherman brothers, Richard (Jason
Schwartzman) and Robert (BJ
Novak), bend over backwards to try and
please the intransigent Mrs. Travers, who holds
final say and can end the deal at any time.
While in rehearsal, there are flashbacks to Mrs. T's rough childhood in the Australian Outback, that gave her the scars she carried for a lifetime. We learn that writing MP was a cathartic experience, allowing her to dream of a more perfect life and to help her better understand her volatile, playful and drunken dreamer bank manager father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell), the Mr. Banks of the book, who pulled the family down the social scale because of his irresponsible behavior. We eventually learn that Terry's favorite daughter Helen Goff (Annie Rose Buckley) is the idealized version of Pamela Travers.
things changed in the relationship between
antagonists and how the pic eventually got made
(with flying penguins) into a classic, becomes the
gist of this interesting story. We learn that
despite all the misgivings, the testy relationship
endured between the prickly author and the charming
legendary showman, especially when he turned
therapist, and thereby cinematic history was made.
The old-fashioned pic tries too hard to get to our heart-strings, to make the studio boss into a kindly figure while ignoring his penchant for controlling things. It also fouled things up with the clumsily shot scene of Walt as the therapist, and at times is too schmaltzy. But, despite such apparent faults, it's a decent pic that tells a story that should be of interest to many movie-goers.
REVIEWED ON 12/9/2013 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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