When Walt Disney's daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins (1964), he made them a promise - one that he didn't realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney's plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn't budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers ...Written by
Walt Disney Pictures
Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can't put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what's to happen / All happened before.
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At the beginning, the Disney logo is replaced by a special "Walt Disney Presents" logo with the old-fashioned segmented castle. See more »
i attended a pre-screening of "Saving Mr. Banks" last night in Dallas. while i had been looking forward to the film, i had my reservations. after all, Johnny Hancock (director) was behind "The Blind Side," which i found much too schmaltzy and watered-down for my taste. also, this was a movie about Walt Disney being produced by his company - so how honest would it be about the story behind the making of the masterpiece "Mary Poppins"? would it settle for predictable mellow-drama (yes, i meant to spell it that way) and glorify dear Uncle Walt as perfect and demonize Mrs. Travers as a cold, soulless spoilsport? thankfully, the answer to that is a resounding "no."
while it surely takes artistic license with history, the film as a whole is surprisingly great. there's not a weak moment throughout, not a second where i wasn't entertained and wanting to find out what would come next. this film (rated PG-13) surprises with many of the thematic issues it tackles, including alcoholism, loss - and we even get a brief glimpse of a smoking Mr. Disney (hey, it was the 60s).
Emma Thompson has always been a strong performer though her screen time has waned over the last decade and a half, but here she gives a performance that is worthy of awards attention. As Mrs. P.L. Travers, she is an author as protective as her life's work as a mother is for a child and is dealing with demons nearly forgotten. Mr. Hanks too carries his own playing the iconic and visionary Disney at the top of his game, trying to honor a promise to his daughters while also add to his impressive repertoire of cinematic achievements.
this is not really a film to take your Poppins-loving tykes to. this is the Disney film for mom and dad to enjoy. "Saving Mr. Banks" will probably be remembered as one of the best films of 2013, and for good reason.
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