It’s official; Tom Hanks is gunning for an Oscar. All that remains now is to see whether he’ll be nominated for the title character in Captain Phillips or for Walt Disney in his latest film.
Saving Mr. Banks tells the true story of Disney’s journey to bring Mary Poppins to the big screen. Will it make audiences rejoice, or should it have been thrown out the window? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here).
As I said before, Tom Hanks stars in this film. In addition to Captain Phillips, his past films include Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan, and The Da Vinci Code. The author of the Mary Poppins books, P. L. Travers, is portrayed by Emma Thompson, whose past films include Nanny McPhee, Beautiful Creatures, and Brave. Other stars include Epic’s Colin Farrell and Turbo’s Paul Giamatti. It’s starting to feel like a Based on the Trailer reunion in here. The director is John Lee Hancock, whose past films include The Rookie and The Blind Side. From what I’ve seen of his work, he knows how to make a good movie, so I’m sure he has a lot to bring to this film.
The trailer begins with the familiar strains of “Wind’s in the east, mist coming in, like something is brewing, about to begin.” Turns out what’s about to begin is the descent of Travers’ plane. Ralph, Paul Giamatti’s character meets her at the airport, but she stops to sniff the air. “It smells like…” “Jasmine?” Ralph suggests. “Chlorine and sweat,” Travers corrects him. Well, I was leading up to a compliment on your perfume, but after insulting my city like that, you can forget it!
Travers arrives at Walt Disney Studios and is introduced as “the creator of our beloved Mary.” Who in turn gave birth to Jesus, who died for our sins. Travers quickly corrects the misunderstanding before it begins and is introduced to Walt Disney. Disney tells her of how he promised his daughters to make Mary Poppins into a movie twenty years ago. It took you twenty years to fulfill that promise? I think by now your girls have forgotten and moved on with their lives. You can go about other projects now.
But Travers has reservations about the project. “She’ll be cavorting and twinkling,” she complains. I want her to be dark and brooding so she can gain respect and credibility in a modern world. Her lawyer assures her that Disney can’t make the movie unless she grants the rights, and she finds plenty of reasons to withhold those rights.
For example, Travers isn’t pleased with the songwriters’ penchant for forced rhymes and coined words. She’s not okay with “responstible,” but she’ll use the phrase “unmake it up”? Also, I really want to see her try to hold a conversation with Dr. Seuss. She also despises the casting choice of Dick van Dyke. I don’t care if he has the world’s worst Cockney accent, Dick van Dyke is the only one who could play Bert. Stop ruining Mary Poppins, creator of Mary Poppins!
But when the Sherman brothers play her “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” Travers finally gives up and throws the song out the window, declaring, “Mary Poppins is not for sale!” Except at your local bookstore, and please do buy her there, because I need that money to eat tomorrow. Travers refuses to let her nanny become a “silly cartoon.” “Says the woman who sent a flying nanny with a talking umbrella to save the children,” Disney points out. I’ve heard of sillier things sent to save children. For example, a flying strongman in red and blue tights. But Travers expresses disappointment that Disney thinks Mary Poppins was trying to save the children. Of course this book for children isn’t about the children. That’s why it’s so relevant to them.
Frustrated, Disney makes one last desperate attempt to please the author by inviting her to Disneyland. “When does anyone get to go to Disneyland with Walt Disney himself?” He’s got a point; I’d take him up on that in a heartbeat. Well, if he still had a heartbeat in which to take him up on it. Maybe I could go with Tom Hanks and it would be the same thing.
Eventually, Travers opens up enough to admit that the characters in her books are like family. I knew it! Emma Thompson really is Nanny McPhee! But no, Disney figures out that Mary Poppins was based on a real person who saved Travers’ father. Seeing how important the story is to her, Disney promises her that “every time a person walks into a movie house, they will rejoice.” Until the movie closes, and then there will be no rejoicing until the invention of the VCR.
And the trailer ends with the two main characters on a carousel at Disneyland. Disney tells Travers about a new idea for the film, and Travers replies that she didn’t need to come to Disneyland to hear that. Disney tells her that it was all part of a bet that he couldn’t get her on a ride. “I just won twenty bucks,” he declares proudly. Isn’t it nice to know that the symbol of childhood and imagination is a gambling man? Watch out, we’ll see him at the roulette wheel before too long.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Yes, yes I do. It’s got good actors, a good director, and a wonderful visual style that nails the feel of Disney Studios in the 60s. I don’t know how accurate to the true story this film will be, since from what I understand, the relationship between Disney and Travers deteriorated upon the film’s release. Also, Saving Mr. Banks is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and unsettling images, possibly dealing with an unhappy childhood, so keep that in mind before taking your kids to see it. But for teens and adults, I’d say this movie is a good one to add to your watchlist. Will I see it? Probably not in theaters, but I’ll definitely be renting it when it comes out on DVD.
Who knows? Saving Mr. Banks just might be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Saving Mr. Banks is owned by Disney.