There’s a great director, a captivating script, enjoyable dialogue, marvelous acting by the two leads, and more … to bring us this stupendous entertainment.
Allow me to begin with the ending of the movie first. There’s an eye-popping scene of the author P.L.TRAVERS’ facial expression (the creator of the MARY POPPINS character), when the camera zooms in for a close-up reveals that she’s tearing up (for a few minutes).
The press audience could be seen to be visibly moved. You could hear audible sniffings here and there.
And for me, memories of my late mother and of my own strict upbringing tugged at my heartstrings. Did I bawl? They say when you laugh the whole world laughs with you. But what when you cry? Ha.
Here’s a well-done story about WALT DISNEY’s frustrating crusade of 20 years to woo the MARY POPPINS’ movie rights from an old tart who’s also no-nonsense writer. His young daughters (then) loved the POPPINS stories, and the adoring father WALT promised them that he’d win the rights to make it into a blockbuster movie.
But heck, it was an uphill task which is what SAVING MR. BANKS is showing us.
The titanic clashes of egos between the movie mogul and the dreadful author form the crux of the movie calling for a truce before the movie eventually made its mark in 1964 to become a classic.
DISNEY, played by TOM HANKS is one determined film maker who never says die. He will fight tooth and nail to have TRAVERS’ universal character of MARY POPPINS brought to the big screen.
TRAVERS, on the other hand is insistent that her titular book character should not be compromised and commercialized. Then how?
Baby boomers who have read and seen “MARY POPPINS” will know that MR. BANKS is the father of the children cared for by Mary Poppins. TRAVERS will want it no other way as the role is patterned after her beloved late father.
TRAVERS is steadfast as she much as she is stubborn, nursing a secret pain dated back to her childhood in Australia.
TRAVERS grew up in Australia in 1906 and this is depicted through flashbacks. She was very close to her charismatic father Travers Robert Goff (COLIN FARREL) who was fighting a losing battle against alcoholism.
Back to the present, reality jolts when she discovers that her bank account is depleting and her agent beseeches her to tactfully release the MARY POPPINS rights to DISNEY to save her from financial ruins.
So she made the business trip from desolate London to to sunny Southern California. And she meets up with DISNEY, who is full of charm, gallantry and everything sugary nice – and who personally guides her on a tour of his theme park to bowl her over.
For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls all tricks in the trade to woo her into signing the contract.
Disney’s staff members, meanwhile, are terrified by this stern, headmistress-like figure they have to work with. There are some hilarious scenes in which Travers sits through script meetings.
She is appalled at the thought of animation and of penguins creeping into the film adaptation. The joyful approach of the Sherman brothers (who wrote the music and lyrics for the film) earns her displeasure.
Armed with storyboards and chirpy songs, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the stubborn ox remains unmoved.
However, in the days that followed, the resolute P.L. will soften and yield. Walt sees an insecure woman who shirks at whatever that may offend her late Australian father.
It is only when Walt re-examine his own past that he discovers that they have something in common.
With that mutual understanding, they both set out to make MARY POPPINS which turns out to be one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.
The director of the film is JOHN LEE HANCOCK. He is pitch-perfect in delivering a wonderful piece of gem.
EMMA THOMPSON and JOHN HANKS are right for their roles with their award winning background.
This is a first-rate film from start to finish and stands as a must-see.