After the relentless depression that was 12 Years a Slave (2013) (Review here), I decided it was high time to see a more… Positive movie.
Saving Mr. Banks (2013) tells the story of P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and her struggle with properly adapting her novel, Mary Poppins, to her liking as well as the great Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks). She also copes with her troubling childhood and the memories of her alcoholic father (Colin Farrell). The film is directed by John Lee Hancock, who also directed The Blind Side (2009) and The Alamo (2004)
The movie is actually two stories in one since the story of Travers’ childhood is told sporadically throughout the movie in flashbacks. However I found myself not really interested in the flashbacks nearly as much as what was going on in the present (Which is still technically the past since the movie takes place in the 1960s). I feel like they could have done the whole story of her childhood in one huge flashback that led into the third act of the movie, like what they did in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) with the Pensieve and Snape’s memories. The constant returning to Travers’ childhood kept throwing off the groove I was in watching her struggle and debate with the writers of the movie. They were basically beating a dead horse, I could have told you from the get go how these flashbacks were going to unfold.
Emma Thompson gives an exceptional performance as P.L. Travers throughout the film. Her depth and passion almost convinced me that she was the one who actually wrote Mary Poppins… Well not really, but you know what I mean. She delivered the role very well and I think it’d be nice if she got a nomination for best actress. I’m not 100% sure she’d win, though. Come to think of it, I’m not even sure who else is going to be nominated for best actress this year. Probably Meryl Streep… Again.
Tom Hanks is gonna nail any role he’s given, that’s without question. He definitely gives audiences a worthy performance as Walt Disney. I didn’t know Mr. Disney personally, but I feel like he’s definitely the kind of guy who would be peppy and cheerful and a “man of the people” always bringing cheer and inspiration to his writers (One of them being played by Jason Schwartzman) just the way Hanks performed. I’m not sure if Hanks will get a nomination for this, though. He gives a worthy performance, but not one for the ages. I still love Tom Hanks though. His performances are like a box of chocolates: They’re all sweet.
Colin Farrell actually gives a great performance as Travers’ father. He was probably the only reason I could manage the flashbacks. It’s a hard role to play. He loves his family more than anything, but cannot help but fall victim to alcoholism. You see it in his eyes and his voice that despite his actions, he would never do anything to hurt his daughters, and I liked that. It wasn’t just your stereotypical “Oh I’m a deadbeat father who abuses my family and spends all our money!” No, he really did care and tried to stop with his habits; and this made it even harder to watch because he couldn’t.
Oh I almost forgot, Paul Giamatti is in this movie as Travers’ limo driver and he’s great. I love Paul Giamatti in just about anything he’s in. He’s got this sort of pep to each of his characters and he always gives his performances with a smile on. Whether its a limo driver in this film or a slave trader in 12 Years a Slave, or a psychotic arms dealer in Shoot ‘Em Up (2007). Also, you should check him out in the John Adams miniseries that was on HBO back in 2008. It’s well worth your time. Only ten episodes too.
Saving Mr. Banks is total oscar bait, to say the least. It has a happy story with some well rounded characters. Tom Hanks is in it, and it has a happy ending. And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that. It was a safe bet to go see this movie. You know it’s not gonna be bad, but don’t expect to be on the floor afterwards or dying to see it again, instantaneously.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10 – Pretty good
It’s some good clean family fun. No violence, no drugs, no nudity, no sex, etc. Also Tom Hanks has a great monologue towards the end of the second act about basically why he does what he does (As Walt Disney), and it inspired me a little bit and reminded me why I want to go into filmmaking. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t be whatever you want to be. Last time I checked, this was America, the land of opportunity, and I’ll be damned if some snot nosed stuck up negative Nancy told me I can’t do what I love for the rest of my life. But yeah, anyway, check out this movie if you just want a good time, with no alcohol required.
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