Saving Mr. Banks was one of my most anticipated movies this year. This biographical drama focuses on Walt Disney’s struggle with P.L. Travers for the rights to Mary Poppins. Before one can make a movie based on a book, they need permission from the author. That goes without saying, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
It took twenty years, a disheartened script writer, two utterly irked song writers, a belittled assistant, and a groveling media mogul to even start production on the live-action film. Why? Because Mary Poppins was so much more than just a character in a book to Mrs. Travers. Happy, sad, serious, humorous, witty, nostalgic, touching, Saving Mr. Banks does not disappoint in story or production.
Saving Mr. Banks & Mary Poppins
The movie opens with a scene from 1906 and a chilling narration:
Wind’s in the east, mist coming in,
Like something’s a-brewing, about to begin . . .
After a short introduction to a wide-eyed, optimistic little girl and her loving father, we’re quickly brought 55 years in the future to Mrs. Travers home in London in 1961. The last thing she wants is to let Walt Disney turn her beloved Mary Poppins into one of his ‘silly’ movies with her ‘flitting about’. With great reluctance, she heads to Los Angeles to meet with Walt Disney and read over the proposed script of Mary Poppins.
How It Plays Out
From the get-go you can tell that this P.L. Travers is one tough cookie. Her curt manner and tactless remarks strike a cord with all whom she meets. She takes it upon herself to go through the movie script page by page with the script writer and song writers, much to their dismay. She has objections on everything, and then some. Oh, and she wants all the sessions on tape. Even the cheery, persuasive Walt Disney seems to crumble in her wake. It seemed as if he got more gray hair every time he met with her.
The film seamlessly switches back and forth between 1961 and Mrs. Travers childhood flashbacks. We learn of the relationship with her father, his struggles as a hopeful banker with issues, the woman Mary Poppins is based on, and how how all this deeply affects the dreaming child confronted with sad realities of life. The flip side presented is how the book personally connects to Walt Disney and his life. It’s an honest look into how we interpret events in our lives and finding opportunity to create a happy ending on one way or another.
Rating & Recommendation
When asking my husband what he thought of the film, he answered with one word – pretty. How so? He felt everything was just done so well. It flowed smoothly and at a perfect pace. Considering the settings and cinematic presendation, it had an overall pleasing look. The actors were phenomenal. They embodied the characters to the point that you didn’t even think of them as Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, or Paul Giamatti but, rather, as Walt, Mrs. Travers, Travers Goff, and Ralph.
The PG-13 rating mainly refers to a few mature themes that Mrs. Travers experienced as a child. There’s no sex, violence, and once Walt says d***. However, the father does have a problem that goes downhill and kind of pushes the mother past her breaking point. This could require some extra discussion on your part with younger children. Also, as there aren’t any fanciful kingdoms or animated action scenes, it could be kind of boring for little ones (take them to see Frozen instead).
Saving Mr. Banks not a ‘Disney movie’ but rather a movie about Walt Disney. I’d recommend it for ages 12 and up as educational enrichment. For adults? Great movie and you should totally see it!
Saving Mr. Banks opens Dec. 13 (limited) & Dec. 20 (wide)!
I was invited on an all-expense paid media trip as a guest of Disney and in honor of the FROZEN movie. All opinions are my own.