Amanda Doughty ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Ever since its release, Mary Poppins has been considered one of Walt Disney’s greatest films. It won him five Academy Awards, and showed the world he could do more than just cartoons. Even today, one can see Mary Poppins walking around the Disney theme parks, and people still hum the classic tunes written for this film. It is a treasure, and a staple in the childhoods of many.
But what most people, including members of the original Mary Poppins cast, do not know is that this film almost did not happen, and that’s what Saving Mr. Banks seeks to reveal.
The film starts with author P.L. Travers, played marvelously by Emma Thompson, in a deep personal conflict over giving Walt Disney the rights to her beloved Mary Poppins books. Traveling to Los Angeles to look over the script, Travers finds herself disgusted by all of the changes made to her beloved characters, and completely immune to all of Disney’s charms. As the conflict continues to brew between the author and the Disney corporation, the audience also gets a glimpse into Travers’ childhood: filled with a deep love for her alcoholic father and an incredibly depressed, passive mother. This parallel structure allows the audience to really see why Mary Poppins meant so much to her, and adds a terrific element to the film.
In terms of acting, this film is absolutely spectacular. Thompson nails the stubborn, uptight, proper nature that is P.L Travers, while also flawlessly grasping Travers’ feelings of guilt and deep insecurities. Tom Hanks delivers a masterful performance as Walt Disney, one that could and should rival his Captain Philips performance in the eyes of the Academy. But the true scene-stealer, oddly enough, is Colin Farrell as P.L. Travers’ alcoholic father. He truly captures the nature of alcoholism, and his downfall into the disease is both horrific and beautiful to watch for Colin Farell’s ability to act this out. Overall, this film is flawlessly casted, and there is not a weak link in the entire film.
This does not mean, however, that this film is perfect. Certain parts of the script are difficult to believe, and certain parts (like Travers’ frequent conversations with herself) feel a bit too scripted. In addition, at times the arguments between Travers and the makers of the film feel a bit redundant, as it occasionally feels like they are running in circles on the same argument. This makes for a relatively slow pace for the film, which makes it a little hard to get fully invested in the film.
Despite its flaws, though, this film is incredibly satisfactory. It is beautifully acted, and will bring out the inner child of all who watch it. Fans of Mary Poppins will not be disappointed.
Overall Grade: B+