I love movies about the history of movies, even when they may not exactly be true to life. I have heard that much of Saving Mr. Banks is not actually how the story happened in real life, but I am always willing to forgive inaccuracy for entertainment.
Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) has been pursing P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) for decades to get the rights to make her children’s book, Mary Poppins, into a film. When Travers finds she is in financial straits, she finally gives in and agrees to work with Disney and his filmmakers to adapt her book into a grand Disney film. But they are not prepared for the stubbornness of Ms. Travers and her dedication to maintaining the integrity of her book leading to an epic battle of the wits.
I was looking forward to Saving Mr. Banks. I enjoy films that take a look into the process of filmmaking, especially in the heyday of the studio system, and I also wanted a glimpse into the life of Disney himself as he hasn’t really been the subject of any films yet. Unfortunately, despite an excellent performance by Hanks and by the entire cast, there was one major element that took away from my enjoyment of Saving Mr. Banks. P.L. Travers is just not a nice person. She is a rude, self-righteous and insulting woman who has no respect for other artists (at least this film version of her). In her first meeting with Disney about making the film, Walt, who is extremely passionate about making the film and whose daughters were enamoured with the book growing up, is kind and courteous to the author, giving her everything she could want and more to get her to work with him. All that she says in response to all of this is “as long as my book doesn’t end up like one of your silly cartoons.” Hanks actually shows us the severe insult on Disney’s face. Here is a man whose passion it was to entertain kids and adults alike with a magic many filmmakers wish they had and all this woman could do was belittle and insult him. And that doesn’t change throughout the film; she stays a cold and mean woman throughout.
The film’s story is intercut with flashbacks of Travers upbringing involving a fun loving and imaginative father who loved his daughters dearly but was also a tragic alcoholic. Colin Farrell does a great job as the father in these scenes but everytime the scenes come up they bring the whole movie to a grinding halt. It just didn’t work at all for me. What a disappointment.
The Blu-ray from Disney is very nice indeed. Beautiful California scenery looks great in hi def and the transfer is practically flawless. Detail and clarity are excellent with a solid soundtrack. Just a shame the movie wasn’t worth the quality of the disc.
Available now on Blu-ray and DVD.