No it’s a religion
I went to go see the film with some friends today. I had high expectations for the movie, and for the most part, it did not disappoint.
I’d have to say the weakest part was Tom Hanks. As much as I love the man, I could not dissociate myself from the fact that I was watching Hanks play Disney. But then again, that’s an near impossible role to fulfill successfully in the first place, so he had quite a job to do. I do give him credit.
Additionally, the flashback sequences (in the 1900s) are a little hard to watch because occasionally they appeared at choppy intervals when I was starting to become involved with the current happenings (in the 1960s). Additionally, I would have liked to have become better acquainted with the woman who inspired Mary Poppins. Understanding why Travers is the way she is makes sense once you see her childhood, but I would have been interested in following the nanny and not just the deadbeat father. It was a bit of a drag. I found myself impatiently waiting for the flashback scenes to be over with so we could go back to the development of the current story.
Now, onto the good things—and there are plenty.
Emma Thompson is Queen. As far as I was concerned, I was watching P.L. Travers on that screen, not Thompson. What a masterful actress.
Being the film buff that I am, I was fairly familiar with the history of Mary Poppins. I knew about Walt’s childhood, had a vague idea of his relationship with Travers, and—as I read all of the “Mary Poppins” books as a child—happily familiar with the book series. That being said, the exposition scenes didn’t bother at all, simply because they were done with finesse and were frankly beautifully touching at some points. The Sherman brothers were a delight to watch, and I was so excited that they were included in the movie. The supporting characters (especially Travers’ chauffeur Ralph) were perfectly cast.
Now, fair warning, I’m about to get really sentimental as I talk about Disney in general.
It should come as no surprise to any of you that I love all and anything to do with [most especially classic] Disney, and I mean that not in just a general sense—I adore Walt Disney himself. Call him/the company a greedy worldwide business conglomerate what have you, I don’t care. Walt Disney is one of my heroes and shall forever be one of my heroes—he and his films have given me and millions of other people cinematic joy for decades.
The movie celebrates the heart that went behind the making of these films. And that is what makes Saving Mr. Banks so good. I was sitting there in the theatre filled with such gratitude and inspiration watching these two completely different human beings slowly but surely affect each other in tiny but noticeable ways. Granted, history was trifled with [more than] a bit to make the narrative the touching and sentimental story that it is, but by golly, they did a great job of it.
And regardless of how corny it may seem, it’s something that Disney gets away with. Any other film that had P.L. Travers stepping out of a car at the premiere of a 1960s musical and accepting Mickey Mouse’s arm to be led into the cinema would be silly and laughable. But because it’s Disney, it’s magic.
And it made me bawl my eyes out.