Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on December 23, 2013 @ tonymacklin.net.

Authoress P.L. Travers would greet Saving Mr. Banks with her patented frown. But it will please audiences.

Such is the world of Disneyfication.

Saving Mr. Banks - based on actual events - is the story of Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) as they sparred over the making or unmaking of a movie based on books about Mary Poppins.

In 1961 Travers travels to Hollywood to meet Disney. She needs money but has no interest in what she thinks would be selling out her creation.

Despite Disney's goofy efforts, she remains unmoved and adamant against song and animation. She does reluctantly agree to participate in the development of the project, but remains uncommitted despite Walt's continual, major compromises.

Ultimately, after nearly-endless confrontations, she does relent.

Tom Hanks is his old appealing self as gregarious Uncle Walt. He's broad and almost huggable.

Emma Thompson has a more difficult role. Travers is a stubborn and incorrigibly distant British lady. She's eminently unhuggable.

Paul Giamatti plays her likable driver. He softens her with his upbeat attitude. But it's a bit much when he informs her and us that he has a daughter who loves Travers' book. And, sigh, she is wheelchair bound. A little bit of wheelchair makes the sugar go down.

In one scene in England, Travers is at home at a table with a large stuffed Mickey Mouse sitting in a chair across from her. Are they eating corn?

Screenplay writers Kelly Marcel and Australian Sue Smith can't resist sentimentality. Marcel is doing the screenplay for Fifty Shades of Grey. One can only hope she doesn't make it Fifty Shades of Puce.

Like the movie Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks is heavy on flashbacks. The film's present is sprightly, but the flashbacks of Travers' life as a little girl with an alcoholic father (Colin Farrell) are generic and obvious. They bog the film down.

Director John Lee Hancock knows his sentimentality - The Blind Side (2009). Audiences usually applaud sentimentality.

Travers is a hard case.

But Mickey is there. And Mickey never fails.

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