Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

Movie Name: Saving Mr. Banks
Year of Release: 2013
Director: John Lee Hancock
Stars: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Ruth Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak, Bradley Whitford, Lily Bigham, Kathy Baker, Rachel Griffiths, Annie Rose Buckley
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Director John Lee Hancock follows the massive success of "The Blind Side" with another truthful story, this one detailing the "battle" of bringing the character Mary Poppins to the big screen. The film introduces us to P.L. Travers, the British author of the series of books about Mary Poppins, who in 1960 was finally courted by Walt Disney to come to America, in order to sign the rights to the character, so the film adaptation could be worked on. Mrs. Travers turns out to be quite an opinionated author, filled with impositions and barriers to every single suggestion coming from the screenwriters and composers, battling even Walt Disney himself. Mary Poppins as it turns out, is a figure dear to the writer, who created that character from her own childhood experiences. The perseverance from the writers and from Walt Disney himself, ultimately win over Mrs. Travers doubts and qualms about handing over the rights of her character to the Disney studio.
John Lee Hancock is a director whose films are very loose adaptations of truthful events, where the screenplays usually sidestep edgier or possibly controversial subject matters. "Saving Mr. Banks" sidesteps any information on the personal life of the author, and focuses solely on her trip to Los Angeles to work on the adaptation of her stories for the big screen. Emma Thompson in that regard excels, creating a character who is simultaneously irritating and ultimately endearing. Her possessiveness of the character Mary Poppins stems from her childhood, which is presented in a series of picture perfect flashbacks (with Colin Farrell and Ruth Wilson playing the parents), which are ridden with cliches and ultimately add nothing much to the story itself. Tom Hanks has little to do, but his performance as Walt Disney is subdued and adds the necessary backdrop for Emma Thompson's character friction and conflict. The remaining talented group of actors have little to do, but they bring the story to life with enthusiasm, particularly Jason Schwartzman, B.J. Novak and the stupendous Paul Giamatti. A film worth watching for the brief insight it provides about the process of bringing an iconic character to the screen.