Title: “Saving Mr. Banks”
Director: John Lee Hancock
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
In 1961, P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thomspon) went to Los Angeles to discuss adapting her series of children’s book about a magical nanny named Mary Poppins to the silver screen. But she has no intention of making it easy, especially when she feels that the people working on the adaptation don’t understand the point of the books, including Walt Disney himself (played by Tom Hanks in a role that I’m sure was intimidating). Thus begins a battle between the two over the movie adaptation that would eventually become the classic “Mary Poppins.”
This film is cute, but not revelatory. There are a lot of in-jokes with this movie, so for the two of you who haven’t seen “Mary Poppins,” you might not get them. While the performances are very good, as you would expect from such a high quality cast including Colin Farrell who plays Travers’ father, the editing becomes troublesome and the cuts happen too often. Switching back and forth between the “present day” Travers of 1961 and her earlier life following her relationship with her parents (and the real-life inspiration for Mary Poppins) happens often and without warning, and doesn’t give the actors enough continuous screen time to truly appreciate their performances.
From a technical perspective, this movie is fine, but artisticly it’s just okay. It’s a cute backstory, but like other movies based on a true story of a high profile event, we know how it ends, so the audience doesn’t get the feeling that there’s much at stake. The real drama comes from the scenes of Travers early life and what happened to her family, something that isn’t as widely know. But the focus and fun with this movie lies in the 1961 scenes and the making of “Mary Poppins,” so each era depicted on screen does something the other one doesn’t and fails to combine them into a single cohesive and dramatic whole.
It’s okay, but this film has its problems. What it does in terms of individual elements it does well, but it fails to combine them to make a singular well-made movie.
“Saving Mr. Banks” earns 3 out of 5 stars.