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Movie Review: Saving Mr. Banks

On paper, Saving Mr. Banks seems like the most boring idea for a movie you could think of.  Walt Disney, (played by The ‘Burbs Tom Hanks) has spent 20 years trying to convince Mary Poppin’s author P.L. Travers to sign over the rights so Disney can turn it into a movie.  Savings Mr. Banks takes place at the very end of this period.  Travers is reluctant to have her work turned into a motion picture, but needs the money and finally agrees to visit California and consider Disney’s offer.  On paper, seems pretty boring.  But it turns out to be a pretty nice film. 

Emma Thompson is the center and heart of the movie as Travers, and she does a fantastic job and has some fun banter with Hanks’ Disney.  But the cast also includes such greats as Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, and B.J. Novak (best known as Ryan from NBC’sThe Office).  It is this talented cast that turns this into a movie worthy of your time.

The real fun is watching Travers come around to the music.  She is instant that Mary Poppins not be a musical, which of course is a battle she lost.  But listening to Schwartzman play the tuns on the piano, and seeing Travers come around and eventually love some of the catchy tunes, was the best part of the movie. 

We are also provided with flashbacks throughout the film of Travers childhood, which gives us insight into why she wrote Mary Poppins, and why she is so against anyone turning it into a film.  The flashbacks were probably the least interesting part of the movie for me, but I can certainly understand why they were important to telling the story.  Colin Farrell plays Travers fun-loving yet alcoholic father in the flashbacks.

I am not sure how closely Saving Mr. Banks follows the true history of this whole process.  From what I understand, Travers was never satisfied with the finished product.  Taking that out of it, I really enjoyed Savings Mr. Banks and would recommend it to anyone who loves the classic Disney movies.  Some of that old magic manages to make it’s way back on screen here, even if it’s just for a few small moments.

Grade: B

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