Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some unsettling images
Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:
Tugging at the heartstrings during the most opportune times, making you feel all warm inside on cue and delivering more than a spoonful of “fun for the whole family” throughout to counteract the PG-13 moments, “Saving Mr. Banks” is little more than Disney propaganda. But, when what you essentially have here is a Disney movie, about the making of a Disney movie, portraying Walt Disney, to go in expecting anything scathing would be foolish. That said, “Saving Mr. Banks” contains more edge to it than Disney’s live action, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green”, made for TV movie worthy track record would have you believe.
Directed by John Lee Hancock (who is well versed in Disney-fying movies) and written by Kelly Marcel (the writer of the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation) and Sue Smith, this imaginative retelling of the making of Mary Poppins (I say this only because in real life P.L. Travers absolutely hated the 1964 Mary Poppin’s film) depicts a charismatic, compassionate and non-anti-Semitic Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) in his attempts to woo author P.L. Travers for the right to bring her beloved novels to the big screen.
The performances all around are excellent, but the standout has to be Emma Thompson, who plays the aforementioned P.L. Travers with the most perfectly disapproving British tone and mannerisms possible. But it is the structure of “Saving Mr. Banks” which is the most impressive. With the best sequences being some extremely well timed flashbacks showing Travers troubled upbringing with her alcoholic father (brilliantly portrayed by Colin Farrell) which momentarily takes things out of the farcical realm, dousing audiences with an occasional cold splash of welcome weight and realism.
Final Thought: At the end of the day all “Saving Mr. Banks” is, is a film about the making of a film; which on face value may seem fascinating to film students and nobody else. This is also a Disney production, which means the story does not veer from the set in stone generic Disney outline (no matter their differences, in the end every character finds common ground and blah, blah, blah) with a score that instructs viewers how to feel (when Disney tells the story of his hard upbringing, cue the sad music). But there is no doubt the Disney Corporation knows their way around an entertaining film. What can I say? “Saving Mr. Banks” is a movie that is impossible to dislike.
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