‘Saving Mr. Banks’ Shines as Hidden Gem at Box Office Over Holiday Season
Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 16:01
Out in theaters Dec. 20, “Saving Mr. Banks” was one of the more touching dramas competing in the box-offices over the holiday break. Although it did not receive as much attention as Disney’s animated musical “Frozen” or “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” this film’s interesting look into the earlier years of Disney and the phenomenal performances given by the actors made it worth every penny.
Based on the life of author P.L. Travers, who wrote the original Mary Poppins book, this film uses flashbacks to combine scenes from her childhood with her present dilemma of whether or not to sell the rights to her book to Walt Disney. Unlike some movies where the flashbacks are overly dramatic or random, each one fits in very well with the plot, and it is interesting to see how the two stories parallel each other. The characters from 1960s Los Angeles echo sayings from her childhood, and they help her to finally come to peace with the past and allow Disney to make a musical of her beloved children’s book. Everything wraps together very nicely, and by the end, the title makes sense and seems very apt indeed.
Emma Thompson, who portrays the finicky author, proves her flexibility as an actress who can play many types of characters, from Professor Trelawney in the Harry Potter series to Elinor Dashwood in “Sense and Sensibility.” Her wonderful portrayal of the caustic but sensitive writer is incredibly moving and brutally funny. Tom Hanks also puts forth a great performance as Walt Disney himself, another complicated but heartwarming character, and indeed the entire cast proves to be very talented.
This movie is a delicate mix of humor and drama. Audiences will become teary-eyed as a young Pamela Travers, nicknamed Ginty by her father, watches her beloved father fall to alcoholism as he struggles with his job at the bank. They will cringe yet laugh as she frustrates Disney and his employees with her unabashedly candid language and her fussy ways and smile as they watch her heart heal throughout the whole experience.
It did seem ironic that the film is about a woman who was so hesitant about turning her book into a movie: basically it is a movie about not wanting to make a movie. It would be interesting to know what the real P.L. Travers, who passed away in 1996, would have said about this movie. I do not think it would have been praise. One also wonders how truthful it actually is, and how much of it is just PR for Disney. After all, it would not be very tactful to put the founder of the company who made the film in a bad light. But insofar as the film goes, as a story it is very witty and touching.
So if you are still looking for something you have not already seen over break, “Saving Mr. Banks” is a great choice!