Saturday, March 15, 2014

Saving Mr. Banks

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Imagine my surprise when it turns out this wasn't a sequel to Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Mr. Banks – 4 out of 5

I’ve always thought that the name Mary Poppins would be a great nickname for a drug. Not only would I feel like I’ve accomplished something by convincing a sub-culture to adopt a nickname of my picking, it would also add a new darker meaning to a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down. Well, since I’m never going to see this dream fulfilled, I sat through Saving Mr. Banks instead.

Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has set his sights on adopting the iconic character of Mary Poppins into a feature film. The only problem is he has to get the author; P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), to sign the rights to him and she’ll set fire to the god-damn entire galaxy before she does that. Since Disney is a man who always gets what he wants, he convinces Travers to cross the pond and see if they can’t make a deal…but she won’t make it easy.

"I will cut a bitch if they put their hands on Poppins!"

When I was young, I was a fan of Disney’s Mary Poppins but, as I got older, I just no longer cared about it. The film isn’t bad, I just grew out of it…however, I really enjoyed Saving Mr. Banks and seeing how Walt convinced Travers it was a good idea to make the film. And sure, it doesn’t matter that the film makes it look like Travers enjoyed the final product but, in real life, she never forgave Disney for what they did to her property but since when have films ever been historically accurate? It wouldn’t be a heart-warming, fun family film if the movie ends with Travers placing a curse on Disney’s head for the metaphoric rape of her nanny character.

You assume they're singing a Mary Poppins...and, actually, you'd be right.

To put it simply: Saving Mr. Banks is a cute film. Yes, I called it cute. Even though there is a large element of fiction to this “based on a true story" story, the movie is a really interesting take on the lengths that Walt and his team went to try and get the rights to Mary Poppins. The film is terrifically put together as it balances Walt’s advances and attempts to woo the rights from Travers while we get to catch glimpses of how the author’s own past help craft the books. This all culminates into a journey of self-discovery in the P.L. Travers character and really makes the film more than just a tale about Walt Disney trying to get a film together that will see Dick Van Dyke dance with penguins.

That's the same stance Forrest Gump took when he saw Lt. Dan's magic legs!

Oh, Colin, it's like I completely forgot about the
Total Recall remake.
Without a doubt, my two favorite things were the way the story sprinkled in Travers’ past and the way Emma Thompson played the woman. You never learn too much about Travers off the bat and you get to see her troubled childhood with her father (Colin Farrell) ultimately give birth to Poppins and that expresses why she comes off like she is seconds away from pulling a knife on Disney for wanting to make a movie about her. This is only highlighted by the wickedly snobbish and all-around amusing way the Thompson played Travers. Thompson made the woman a HUGE pain in the ass and is capable of making the character sympathetic in her defense of her property, annoying to the point you feel the burden that the songwriters (played by B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) were going through, and, also, feel sort of amused by her antics to try and get Walt’s blood pressure rising. This dynamic is a hard one to pull off because Travers could have easily come off as such an asshole that there would be no way to sympathize with her but Thompson really found that middle ground where she could be hard to handle, justified in her actions, and funny all at the same time.

Pictured:  Annoying and funny at the same time.

Then you have Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. I don’t think I have to tell you that he was great in the role because when is Mr. Hanks NOT great in a role? The answer to that question is never. There is NEVER a time when he is terrible in a role because he is Tom Hanks and Tom Hanks doesn’t understand what it means to be a shitty actor. Additionally, if Tom Hanks touches you, he instantly adds 5 years to your life.

Jesus...I would sell my first born child to child laborers to get on a carousel
with Tom Hanks dressed as Walt Disney.

"Play 'Freebird!'"
The film also had some great supporting players that helped moved the story along and who really brought their A-game. B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman and Bradley Whitford have some incredibly memorable moments with Emma Thompson as their characters work tirelessly to try and get her to get on-board with the production but some of my favorite moments had to have been with Thompson and Paul Giamatti. Giamatti played Ralph, Travers driver, and is responsible for really opening Travers’ eyes to the possibility of a Mary Poppins film and Giamatti’s Ralph was such a wide-eyed optimistic spirit (and Giamatti really played that type well) that it was hard to not feel Travers’ warming up to him throughout the entire movie.

Look at this picture and try to hate Paul Giamatti.  You can't do it.

It’s amusing when you think about how Saving Mr. Banks is one of those movies that shows the story about making a movie; it’s like cinema Inception (now imagine if we got a movie that shows the undertaking of making Inception!). However, the movie tells a warm, amusing story that, even though it is not completely historically accurate, it is still entertaining…and kinda frightening that Disney is venturing into the territory of rewriting history and making it the way they want it to be.

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