Saving Mr. Banks (2013)


run time: 125 mins
rated: PG-13
considered: Biography, Comedy, Drama
starring: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giametti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman

movie summary: Author P. L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins. (

Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) made a promise to his daughters that he would bring their beloved book hero Mary Poppins to life in a movie. For the next 20 years he has asked author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) for the rights to her book, but she has never given in, until 1961 when they meet face to face.

Ms. Travers is running low on money because she hasn’t written any new books for a while. Her lawyer meets with her and informs her that Mr. Disney is offering to pay for her trip to sunny California from England for a chance to meet and acquire the rights to Mary Poppins. She has refused him for almost two decades because she thinks Disney is a joke and doesn’t want Mary to animated or have her image destroyed in any way shape or form. She makes the trip across the ocean and meets Ralph (Paul Giametti) her personal chauffeur who drives her back and forth from the studio to her hotel. She doesn’t like the situation is currently faced with so she comes across extremely rude to everyone.

Inside the studio she meets Don DeGradi (Bradley Whitford), Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak), and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) who will help lay out the movie storyline in accordance to the book, with her approval of course. The first couple of days don’t go well as Ms. Travers doesn’t approve any new songs, character wardrobes, actors and actresses, and how the movie is shaping up to be a mockery of her story. Mr. Disney gets word that things are not progressing according to plan so he personally takes part in the process to try to make Ms. Travers happy. He agrees to change any and everything to get her to agree to sign off on the project. After almost a week and half of not making any new progress, Mr. Disney brings Ms. Travers to Disneyland in one last attempt to loosen her up. Nothing works so she returns home without signing over the rights.

Through out her trip to Disneyland, Ms. Travers begins to have flashbacks to her childhood and the moments in her life that lead to the creation of the Mary Poppins character. Her mother Margaret (Ruth Wilson) and father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell) struggle to make ends meet while Travers deals with a heavy drinking problem. After numerous attempts to kick his habit, he falls ill and Margaret’s sister Ellie (Rachel Griffths) comes to clean the house and help take care of the kids. Mr. Disney gets on a plane and heads to Ms. Travers house in England because he has figured out that the Mary Poppins character is based on something that happened in her lifetime. They have a cup of tea together while Walt tells her his childhood story. He explains how his family also struggled and his dad was abusive if the chores and jobs were not done in a timely manner. He vows to protect Mary because of what she means to Ms. Travers and that if he got the chance to share the character with the world, it could bring much joy to kids and adults.

Movie history will show that Mary Poppins the movie was released in 1964 starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The film was a major success providing kids with new songs like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and a Spoonful of Sugar. Thanks to the efforts of Walt Disney and his production team, P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins character may have never come to life from the books pages where she once lived.

my thoughts: Saving Mr. Banks has received a lot of positive praise and reviews, it currently has a 7.9 rating on IMDb, but for me it’s not that great, it’s just good. It is a really long movie that could have easily been cut to under two hours with less flashbacks to her childhood or combined some of those stories together and save us time reliving some not so pleasant memories. Of course her struggles and what she witnessed with her own eyes fuels her writing, but who ever has seen Mary Poppins knows the story. As far as characters go, I couldn’t believe Emma Thompson could appear so mean on-screen. Nothing pleased her, she had such high expectations, and was flat-out rude to everyone. Poor Tom Hanks tried everything possible as Walt Disney, but you can only shove Mickey and the gang down someone’s throat before they have had enough. There appears to be two messages presented in this film, one is about forgiveness, heartbreak, and the ability to move on with life, while the other is powerful people will do anything they want to get anything they want. The movie is presented in an amazing authentic 1961 feeling equipped with Disneyland and lots of Disney characters, while telling us the background story of one of Disney’s most famous female characters.

my star rating: 6 out 10

One thought on “Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

  1. There are times when it’s abundantly clear that the movie wants to be overly cheesy and sentimental, but somehow, it still kept its head above the water and gave me something that had me on the verge of tears. It truly did. Good review Ryan.

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