By Jeffrey James K. Erdely ’14
7.5 out of 10
“Saving Mr. Banks” stands up to high expectations with an all-star cast under the direction of John Hancock, managing to be both emotionally touching and family friendly.
Starring Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L Travers, the movie tells the tale of how Mr. Disney managed to persuade Ms. Travers to sell the rights of her hit children’s book, “Mary Poppins,” in order to turn the story book into a live movie, fulfilling a promise Mr. Disney made to his children 20 years prior.
While “Saving Mr. Banks” was advertised as a behind-the-scenes movie of how “Mary Poppins” was made, the film weaves the life of a young Travers throughout, flipping back and forth from the creation of the film “Mary Poppins” and scenes from Travers’ life that inspired the book “Mary Poppins.”
Because my expectations for the movie were shifted suddenly with the inclusion of many flashbacks to Travers’ inspiration for Mary Poppins, I was disappointed. I had been drawn into the movie specifically because I thought I was going to see the making of “Mary Poppins,” with many witty exchanges between Mr. Disney and Ms. Travers.
I was not entirely let down though.
The film did go into specifics of what the process for writing the screenplay for the film was like, and even went so far as to introduce the unexpected character of Ralph, Ms. Travers’ chauffeur for the duration of her stay in Hollywood.
Ralph, portrayed excellently by Paul Giamatti, brings out a side of Travers during their morning drives that develops both characters and adds an unexpected depth to the simple chauffeur.
Where “Saving Mr. Banks” lacks however, is plot.
Because the movie was advertised as the creation of the film “Mary Poppins,” the viewer immediately knows that Mr. Disney does get the rights to make the film since said film has already been a part of Hollywood history for more than 50 years now.
The movie ends up splitting its time between telling the story of getting the rights for the script and showing the inspiration for the children’s book. There are no scenes of the creation of the actual film, only creation of the script and the bargaining done to secure the rights for the story.
While “Saving Mr. Banks” manages to draw the viewer in and emotionally vest them in the story, the actual plot for the film is fairly thin and basic, making it an ideal family film, but leaves many adults thinking, “That’s it?”