Our Thoughts On Saving Mr. Banks! #SavingMrBanks

We were solely invited to an advanced screening of this film. All Opinions are my own.

If you haven’t seen the film, be warned spoiler alert!

Walt Disney Pictures presents Saving Mr. Banks, the story of how Mr. Walt Disney himself had to fight to get the story of Mary Poppins to the screen. Most behind the scenes stories about films are about the actually making of the film. While that likely is also an interesting story, the fact that this movie focuses on getting the right to make the film opens up the possibility of the telling the second story. This creatively opens an all new theme less commonly explored: the struggle of creative ownership. The aforementioned second story explains why author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) refuses to grant the movie rights.


The movie is told in real time and in flashbacks. In real time, author P.L. Travers is invited out to LA by Walt Disney. It becomes apparent that Mr. Disney has made several offers over the years to purchase the rights, with this being the first sign of a chance of acceptance. Given the star treatment, Mrs. Travers is flown first class from England to LA, put up in a fancy hotel, and given a personal driver. It’s through the personal driver Ralph that we see the best personal relationship Mrs. Travers has with an American. Ralph (Paul Giamatti) is all heart and innocence. It is likely because of his child-like view of the world that Mrs. Travers identifies with him best given the circumstances. The circumstances in question are the flashbacks that Mrs. Travers is having with her childhood. While it is not immediately revealed, it becomes obvious that the little girl is Mrs. Travers.

In the flashbacks, we see that Mrs. Travers’ father (Colin Farrell) is fun loving and caring, but lacking very much in responsibility. Slowly, as the flashbacks progress, we see that the dramatic events of Mrs. Travers’ childhood are what led to the creation of the character Mary Poppins. Meanwhile, in the film’s current timeframe, Disney’s assailing of Mrs. Travers continues. Waiting at Disney Studios is Mary Poppins screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and the famous songwriting Sherman Brothers Richard (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert (B.J. Novak). Together with storyboards, a script reading, and songs, they attempt to charm her into signing away the rights. These scenes are the most fun and entertaining of the entire film. The comedic chemistry of this group is perfect.

Obviously the film Mary Poppins was made in 1964, so there is no surprise twist in how that story ends. The value in the film is seeing what happens when an unstoppable force (Disney) meets an immovable object (Travers). It’s also interesting to see Hank’s portrayal of Disney as he pulls no punches as that unstoppable force to get what he wants. While the performance may or may not be close to what happened, it is a pleasant surprise that the event was not sugar coated.


Saving Mr. Banks stars Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan and The Davinci Code) as Walt Disney, Emma Thompson (Nanny McPhee and Stranger Than Fiction) as the author Mary Poppins P.L. Travers, Paul Giamatti (Sideways), Colin Farrell (2011’s Total Recall), Jason Schwartzman (Rushmore and Bored to Death), B.J. Novak (The Office and Inglorious Basterds), Bradley Whitford (Cabin in the Woods and Trophy Wife), and is directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side and The Rookie).

Disney always makes films that are appropriate for the whole family, but it is not likely that many younger audiences will be interested in the film as the subject matter is more geared to adults. Adults smoke and drink, as was common with the era, and both the smoking and alcohol are not without their consequences; an example would be Walt’s harsh cough as a result of his consistent smoking. The PG-13 rating is appropriate.

We enjoyed the film and recommend you check it out in limited theaters now. Enjoy this featurette on Tom Hanks below.

For more info on the film…

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