Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks [2013]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-II)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars)  RE.com (3 Stars)  AVClub (C)  Fr. Dennis (4 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
RE.com (S. Wloszczyna) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Saving Mr. Banks [2013] (directed by John Lee Hancock, screenplay by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith) tells the story of the struggle of legendary Hollywood Studio / Theme Park owner Walt Disney [IMDb-1] [IMDb-2] (played magnificently in the film by Tom Hanks) to attain the rights to make what became the celebrated Disney musical Mary Poppins [1964] from P.L. Travers (again played in the film to Oscar worthy heights by Emma Thompson), the prickly Australian born, since London, England residing author of the original Mary Poppins children's books

Clearly, it was not easy for Walt get those rights from Ms. Travers ;-).  And clearly there was a story as to why it was so hard for Ms. Travers to "let go" of this her story.  And as is the case of many children's book authors, the inspiration for their later children's book came from their experiences (and their sufferings) during their own childhoods.

So then this film really tells two stories:

The first was the story of the writer P.L. Travers causing Walt Disney and his crew of very talented writers including Don DaGrady (played in the film by Bradley Whitford), and Robert and Richard Sherman (played by B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) all kinds of problems as they tried to come up with a script that was both marketable and acceptable to her often seemingly incomprehensible demands: NO RED at all (!) in the film, NO facial hair on Mr. Banks, NO pears, NO animation, NO since legendary Dick Van Dyke [IMDb] ... ;-). 

The second was that of the little girl Ginty Goff (played magnificently by Annie Rose Buckley) growing-up in rural Australia, the daughter of Travers Goff (played again magnificently by Colin Farrell), a small town banker _and_ an alcoholic who eventually died of tuberculosis, and her mother Margaret Goff (played by Ruth Wilson) who was beside-herself, not knowing what to do about her on one hand fun-loving, on the other hand ever drinking (and when he got too drunk, making-a-fool-of-himself) husband.  When things got really difficult, that's when Margaret called in Aunt Ellie (played by Rachel Griffith) to come-in as a de-facto nanny ...

Presented here are then the elements of a very nice, if at times very sad, intertwining story reminding us all that when people act strangely, there's often enough a story behind that strangeness.

Not necessarily for really little kids, the film would certainly be a nice one from preteens and teenagers particularly ones with relatives who at times may seem rather odd. 

Good job Disney, Good job!

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