When I was a toddler, I watched Mary Poppins at least twice a week. That poor videotape has been played and rewound well over 100 times. I haven’t seen the movie in years but I still know almost every lyric to every song. It’s one of the greatest movies ever made, how could anybody hate it? Then comes P.L. Travers, the author of the original Mary Poppins’ books. She hates the film which is the end of a very interesting tale about the production of Disney’s Mary Poppins.
The film, Saving Mr. Banks, dramatizes these events and does an absolutely spectacular job. It’s not perfect, with some moments that felt overdramatized, but has such outstanding performances and a well crafted screenplay that it doesn’t bother me too much. Saving Mr. Banks is one of my favorites of the year and one that is well worth the price of admission.
Emma Thompson gives one of the best performances of the year as P.L. Travers. While she conveys her dialogue flawlessly, it’s her performance when her mouth is closed that impresses me. The emotion in her facial expressions and body movements absolutely sell me as the “character.”
The supporting cast (of mostly men) is also quite good. Tom Hanks plays a fine Walt Disney, excelling as the well-hearted and good natured filmmaker. B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman play the Sherman brothers who created the music for the film and also give commendable performances (although they aren’t given too much of a chance to shine). Paul Giamatti in his little role was also great, with his character playing great off of Emma Thompson’s Travers.
But it’s Colin Farrell as P.L. Travers’ father who gives one of the most underrated performances of the year. This is a tough role to pull off but Farrell absolutely dominates. The two different sides to this character are so wonderfully presented and it kills me that Farrell won’t take home any statues for this role. A really phenomenal performance that I can’t put into words.
What was put into words rather well is this film’s story. The screenplay, written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, is wonderful. There’s quite a bit of humor and fun with the dialogue, although the film’s darker moments certainly stand out the most. The actors deserve a lot of the credit, but the emotion you feel during some of the movie’s final moments is thanks to the screenplay and the editors of the film. Wonderfully executed.
Unfortunately, the winds are blowing hard in the east and not exactly settling in the west. Some of the film’s moments come off as overdramatized. While the events might have went down that way, the movie still shouldn’t feel overdramatized. The movie does an impeccable job during the really dark moments but surprisingly doesn’t during some of its more lighter moments.
Saving Mr. Banks is a fantastic film. With excellent performances and an interesting story, the movie will entertain just about anyone. The screenplay, while funny and rather emotional at times, had some trouble here and there although that comes with almost all dramatizations. If you’re even remotely interested in the creation of one of the greatest children’s films ever created, Saving Mr. Banks is worth your time.