"Saving Mr. Banks"
Deluxe Edition Soundtrack Review
Featuring the vocal talent of Julie Andrews &
Music of Richard M. Sherman & Robert Sherman,
Dave Brubeck and Ray Charles
Walt Disney Records
Disc 1: 31 Tracks/Disc Time: 45:55
Disc 2: 9 Tracks/Disc Time: 23:21
"Saving Mr. Banks" which opens in two weeks is the latest Disney Oscar bait that tells the story of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Oscar Winner Emma Thompson, "Love Actually") who a very reluctant writer who had pretty much denied any studio from adapting her beloved work after seeing the big screen adaptations of other cherished works damaged in her view. Now enter the most beloved studio head in Hollywood in the person of the late Walt Disney (Oscar Winner Tom Hanks, "Forrest Gump"), whose two beloved daughters have begged him to turn their favorite book "Mary Poppins" into a movie, he makes them an endearing promise to do so and one that would ultimately take over 20 years to do so. During that time a fierce battle between both Disney and Travers over obtaining the rights to the book in which she her biggest fear is that her beloved creation would be destroyed by Hollywood. After the sales of the book really begin to dwindle, Travers reluctantly visits Disney in Los Angeles and he puts on a full on assault on her as to his vision of her beloved book would come to life that included artist set renderings and the work of the famous songwriters Richard M. Sherman and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman, "Darjeering Limited", B.J.Novak, "Inglorious Basterds") and when these attempts to make her change her mind fail, Disney starts to channel his own inner youth that finally wins Travers over.
The good looking film is directed by John Lee Hancock, who directed the vastly forgotten and underrated films, "The Rookie" and the stellar remake of "The Alamo" along with the surprise hit, "The Blind Side", that earned a Best Picture nomination and a well deserved Oscar for Sandra Bullock. Those films featured the work of Hancock's frequent collaborator, Carter Burwell whose work is seriously underrated. For this film Disney went for the home run and went with a Pixar Films regular in the person of the Oscar nominated Thomas Newman ("Wall-E", "Finding Nemo") who's had a great career to date and this marks the fourth film he has scored that has starred Oscar winner Hanks which includes "The Man With One Red Shoe", "Road To Perdition", and "The Green Mile", with the latter two scoring Oscar nominations in their respective years.
The music that Newman has created for this film is in keeping with he's been doing in recent years with films such as this one that feature a low key approach with emphasis on solo keyboard/piano, percussion, guitar, flutes and lush string work. From the on set starting with "Travers Goff", introduces us to this approach with a wonderful light touch with lush melodies and an original soundscape that really is full of magic. The rest of the score does feature a light and fun approach to it that is very infectious featured in the tracks "Walking Bus", the plays out like a spirited march of sorts mixing in some airy electronic work along with a xylophone to give it a fairy tale feeling and pure joyous energy in such tracks that include "Jollifaction", "Mr.Disney", "Leisurely Stroll", "Spit Spot!", "The Magic Kingdom" and "Mrs. P.L. Travers" has a hint of Dave Brubeck styled jazz that is alot of fun. Of course, what is a Thomas Newman score without the drama... well there's plenty of it here to savor with sparkling dramatic tracks such as "Westerly Weather", "Forgiveness", "Ginty My Love", "To My Mother", "Whiskey", and "Celtic Soul" that feature the always sold elements that have made his scores so memorable and always keeps them rich and fresh trying to come up with new ideas and sounds for these films that keep them from being redundant.
The rest of the album of disc one features the demo idea for the songs of "Mary Poppins" performed by actors Jason Schwartzman and B.J.Novak in character as the Sherman Brothers that would on to be very memorable and would sung later on by the great actress, Julie Andrews and Disc Two of this Deluxe Edition set rightfully features music from the original "Mary Poppins" soundtrack that include the unforgettable "Chim Chim Cher-ree", "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious", "Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)" and "A Spoonful of Sugar" as well as the demo versions by Richard M.Sherman that give you an idea of the rough cut product before Andrews' unforgettable final versions were performed on the screen. The album also features the classic rendition of "Heigh-Ho" by the late legendary and ageless jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, that was featured on his Columbia Records album inspired by the music of Disney films and the venerable Ray Charles is also featured with a very solid rendition of "One Mint Julip" to add some excellent balance to excellent music already featured here.
Disney's album a 2 disc-set which is the only way it's available at the moment, is a solid production that features plenty to enjoy of Thomas Newman's score as well as giving newbie soundtrack collectors to the classic songs from "Mary Poppins" that they would be sure to enjoy. The two major faults I really find with this album is that there should've alot more of Newman's score featured on here because of the short running time of it sans the songs featured here and I really feel that his best material isn't properly displayed here as in most of Newman's albums. The second is that second disc is even shorter than the first one and it would've made more sense to pack both albums together as one or add more material from the soundtrack of "Mary Poppins" which would've been even more appealing. As is, it's a solid production that does represent Newman's always solid material in a positive way eventhough it isn't the strongest of his most recent scores, I will definitely recommend it because after a couple of listens, it does warm up to you gradually and there is plenty of melodic material to really love here as well as the always beautiful voice of Julie Andrews, that never gets old. Strong thumbs up!