Written by / 12/23/2013 / No comments / , , , ,

DISNEY PRESENTS SAVING MR. BANKS

year: 2013 rating: ***
If you thought Nurse Ratched was bad, by the end of dealing with P.L. Travers, author of the MARY POPPINS books, Walt Disney would have probably preferred a frontal lobotomy...

Although we know the beloved Julie Andrews musical will be made, there’s enough suspense of whether Travers, played with an uncompromising, neurotic nitpicking by Emma Thompson, will sign over the rights, thus allowing... in her opinion... Walt Disney to make a cartoonish mockery of her literary work.

Flashbacks into her past show us the author’s family in Australia, and eventually the influence of the Mary Poppins character: Scenes with her banker dad play out like dreamy (and often nightmarish) vignettes... And while providing a nice break from the linear story, these segments distract from the pivotal Travers verses Disney relationship... Ironically, during Tom Hanks' heartfelt soliloquies into Disney’s own past, you’ll forget there’s anyone else in the room.

Emma Thompson does a pretty good job but lacks the snappy charm to make an antagonistic grouch fun and/or completely interesting… Then, when she does come around, it seems a bit too easy and contrived and yet, like Disney and his staff, you’ll be glad the inevitable change occured: her stubborn determination grows exaggeratedly one-dimensional and downright tiresome after awhile... Perhaps this was needed to make the contented Walt Disney struggle like a hungry artist instead of grinning like a jovial tycoon… At first Tom Hanks seems like he’s doing an imitation, but as stress piles on a much more genuine and resilient persona shines through. And don’t leave the theater till after the first wave of credits: you’ll hear tape of the real Travers laying down the law to the studio… Which must have been a grueling adaptation process, yet for fans of the cinematic MARY POPPINS it was, like all things of the artworld, well worth someone else’s struggle.
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