The back story in how the Disney classic 'Mary Poppins' was made hits theaters today nationwide in the Disney Pictures movie 'Saving Mr. Banks'. The movie stars two-time Academy Award winner Emma Thompson as Pamela L. Travers, the author of the original book. Walt Disney, played by two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks, worked aggressively for over 20 years to acquire the movie rights to her book 'Mary Poppins' which was first published in 1934 in London, England.
Travers is the pen named used by Thompson's character, however her real name was Helen Lyndon Goff. The movie 'Saving Mr. Banks' focuses mostly on Travers and her relationship with her father, Travers Robert Goff (Colin Farrell), who died when she was young in Australia. Although I was not keeping a stop watch, it appeared Farrell should have shared the marquee with Thompson and Hanks, as he was more on screen than Hanks and was an integral character for the movie.
Disney Pictures began the movie utilizing the Disney logo of 1964 when 'Mary Poppins' came out in theaters in the United States and did a quality job throughout the film. Though it may disappoint many as it lacks a certain amount of drama, it tries to make up for it with quick quips from both Hanks and Thompson.
The film takes place in 1961 when Walt Disney works hard to appease Pamela Travers during the transformation of her book to the big screen, however she will not relent. Since she retains the rights to her book, Disney has to accept her terms no matter how outlandish they may seem to the team at Disney. It is only in the last scenes of the movie, Disney finds a way into Travers' heart, or perhaps her past, that she lowers her guard merging their visions of 'Mary Poppins'.
The film does hold one's attention, however this weekend it will be battling 'American Hustle' which is hefty competition for the pre-holiday movie crowd. My opinion is if you have only two movies to go see this holiday, choose 'The Best Man Holiday' and 'American Hustle'. There are others as well, however those are the best two overall. 'Saving Mr. Banks' is a quality film, but the overall story is less than compelling.