Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks Review - 4 Stars

Walt Disney worked for more than twenty years to get permission from “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers to make a movie of her story.  Travers, it turns out, was difficult and demanding.  The backstage story of Disney’s wooing makes for great fun, thanks to a wonderful performance by Emma Thompson as the testy author.  Tom Hanks feels perfect as Walt Disney—so good you’re left thinking — who else but Hanks?  The movie sprinkles some fine character actors in various roles–including Paul Giamatti as Travers’ driver, Bradley Whitford as head script writer, and Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak as composer brothers Robert and Richard Sherman.  We know going in that the movie got made and made well.   “Saving Mr. Banks” contrasts the difficult adult with the young girl growing up in a troubled family in far away Australia.  After seeing the story behind Travers,  watching things work out feels exhilarating.   When Travers attends the “Mary Poppins” premiere and watches her story on screen, her reaction leaves not a dry eye in the house.  And please stay for the credits and hear the real Travers on tape in the sessions recreated for this story.  They’re hilarious and a testament to the quality of Emma Thompson’s abilities.  Does it deliver what it promises?  A great story behind a story.  Is it entertaining?  Funny and touching and leads to a glorious climax.  Is it worth the price of admission?  One of the year’s best.