Funny, informative, emotional. This movie may look like a fluffy comedy about a cranky, middle-aged woman and her war of artistic differences with Walt Disney, but in actuality, the emotional life story that inspired the fictional phenomenon is entertaining, deep, and beautifully brought to life by the incredible actors who take on these icons. Recommended? This is a surprisingly impressive movie and it is very fun to watch.
The story of this film is far more interesting than most might expect it to be. The movie takes place at the time Mary Poppins was in pre-production, but features flashbacks to P.L. Travers’ childhood, where many of the influences for the adventures in her books are revealed. In this way, the story goes beyond a cranky, middle-aged woman who does not like Walt Disney’s interpretation of her book and steers more towards her personal connections with her characters and why Disney’s version didn’t capture or misrepresented it. The film also has no shortage of strong moments, whether they are hearty laughs or more serious and emotional tolls.
At the centre of this film is the amazing Emma Thompson. As an actress who rarely does wrong, her portrayal of P.L. Travers was both dedicated and entertaining. Many of the funniest parts of the film were just her reactions to everything about being in Florida. Her sense of comedic timing and the poise that comes with every stance, even when she is sitting to herself in the grass, adds to what makes a very solid performance. Also memorable in the film is Tom Hanks in his portrayal of Walt Disney. Also a renowned actor who has played a vast range of roles, he takes on the iconic man seriously, but with the perfect balance of whimsicality. Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti both play minor roles in the film, but each manages to bring the best to their characters in their own way.
In some ways, Saving Mr. Banks follows in the footsteps of 2012’s “Hitchcock”, where viewers get a behind the scenes look at a Hollywood representation of the production of one of its most iconic films. While Hitchcock focussed more on facts and the relationship at the centre of the film, Saving Mr. Banks is focussed on the challenges prior to the actual production, back when the story was first proposed, the songs were first written and the sets were first designed. It played on the characters’ quirks and the things in their lives that led them to make the decisions and have the opinions that they did. While it may not seem like it at first, Saving Mr. Banks is actually a fun film for the whole family.