Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about the Disney behind the scenes movie "Saving Mr. Banks" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer. Don't forget to take a shot at the "best ever" question in the comments!

   

REVIEW TEXT:

 You may never watch Mary Poppins the same way again.
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“Saving Mr. Banks” is a look into the behind the scenes finagling that led to Walt Disney being able to make the movie Mary Poppins. Emma Thompson plays PL Travers, that’s Mrs. Travers to you, thank you very much, who after writing and creating the Poppins story, a story loosely based on her own life, struggles with the changes Disney wants to make. Tom Hanks plays Walt himself using every ounce of charm he can muster to get her to sign over the rights. Straight off, this is a fun and captivating movie.
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First off, it’s really an incredible thing to see 60s era Disney recreated in all it’s glory. It’s one of those places and times that would rise to the top of my time machine wish list. To sit in those rooms as those creative minds crafted music and scripts would have been absolute euphoria. But to see it recreated here is a decent consolation prize. The performances are also great as you would probably expect from pros like Hanks and Thompson. But it’s Emma Thompson’s Travers that is most notable here, capturing the pain of letting someone access your creative process, especially when it's tied so intimately to your past. And actually that back story is probably the best thing about this movie. To see the pain and struggle that led to the beautiful story that we know from the Julie Andrews classic is an absolute revelation and the movie does a great job at shifting from storyline to storyline at exactly the most potent moments. It gives the movie a momentum, fluidity, and power that keep you invested all the way through.
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It feels perfect, in fact, maybe a little too perfect. If I’m picking out negatives the main one that jumps to mind, so let’s call it the worst thing, is it all just ties up a little too neatly. I just can’t imagine with two such disparate views of the desired outcome that everything worked out so well for both parties. Of course the fact that the movie is made by Disney probably plays into that sneaking suspicion, seeing that they have a vested interest in everything coming up roses... and dancing penguins. The irony could be that just as Travers was concerned they would Disnify her Mary Poppins story, they might have also now Disnified her own personal story. But truthfully, the film doesn’t force a spoon full of sugar through some very difficult moments of her backstory so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
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All in All “Saving Mr. Banks” is a terrific and compelling look into the history of a beloved film. Superb performances and a genuinely powerful and moving story are plenty enough to offset any of my world weary Disney cynicism. I’m going with an A-.
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