Though the 1964 classic "Mary Poppins" may be one of Walt Disney's most beloved films of all time, it very nearly never happened. It took a mountain of patience and 20 years of cajoling from Disney himself to secure the film rights to his daughters' favorite book. The story of and behind the final battle between Disney and Poppins author P.L.Travers comes to life in the glorious old fashioned entertainment "Saving Mr. Banks."
This sumptuously photographed year end gem seamlessly alternates between the 1961 story of Disney and Travers and that of a young girl (a wonderfully sympathetic Annie Rose Buckley) and her alcoholic dreamer father (a top notch Colin Farrell) in early turn of the century Australia. While the Australian story is heartbreaking, the Tinseltown town tale is a heartwarming celebration of creative genius and compassionate human existence and their story arcs are beautifully paralleled and merged.
Emma Thompson gives the performance of her career as the haunted, uber stiff upper lip serious and intractable Travers, a role that seems as though it's been waiting for her to catch up with it. Tom Hanks superbly embodies Disney in the manner we know and love him for and Paul Giamatti is at his warm and nuanced best as Travers' chauffeur. The delightful Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman as the frazzled screenwriter and the tunesmith Sherman Brothers gamely sing and dance before a woman dead set against musical numbers and nostalgically recall and reaffirm their magical power.
You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll rejoice with this must-see film that would have no doubt left Disney and Travers themselves heartily satisfied.