Saving Mr. Banks | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
DONATE

Saving Mr. Banks 

A spoonful of medicine to make the saccharine go down

Pin It
Favorite
Saving Mr. Banks
  • Saving Mr. Banks

P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson)—the irascible author of Mary Poppins—frets and complains bitterly throughout Saving Mr. Banks that her beloved story will lose its realistic edge in the hands of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). And John Lee Hancock’s film does a pretty impressive job of trying to force-feed gritty realism into a story that might’ve been better served focusing on the whimsy.

The fact-based narrative alternates between two timelines. In 1961, Travers visits California to work with Disney, composers Robert (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) on an approach to Mary Poppins that will satisfy the author so she’ll finally sign off on the film rights after a 20-year courtship. Flashbacks to 1906 Australia, meanwhile, show Travers as a child (Annie Buckley) with the beloved, alcoholic bank-manager father (Colin Farrell) who inspired Poppins’ Mr. Banks.

The focus at the outset seems to be on light comedy, as Travers fusses dismissively over California weather, her hotel room full of Disney paraphernalia and the proposed casting for the movie, with Thompson doing her best Generic Disdainful Brit. Hanks does a lovely job making Disney’s folksiness and Midwestern twang feel genuine, and there are a handful of amusing moments that make fine use of the culture clash as their foundation.

As for the flashback sequences, their nostalgic glow certainly emphasizes the idea that Travers is still working out some unresolved daddy issues. Yet it feels as though far too much time is spent underlining family dynamics that were clear after a couple of scenes, pulling everything toward the scene in which Disney cajoles Travers with his insight into her psychology. Saving Mr. Banks takes a snippet of movie-history trivia and tries to build it into something profound, as though it needed to add a spoonful of medicine to make the saccharine go down.

SAVING MR. BANKS

2_5_stars.gif

Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell
Rated PG

Twitter: @ScottRenshaw

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of ,

  • Walk of Shame, The Lego Movie

    New DVD/VOD Tuesday, June 17
    • Jun 16, 2014
  • Drinking-Class Zero

    Following a night of drinking, Wendy Simpson, 25, walked to a McDonald’s restaurant in West Yorkshire, England, where she was told that the counter was closed and only the drive-through was open but that she couldn’t be served
    • Jun 16, 2014
  • Night Moves

    Night Moves is as terrific as it is frustrating
    • Jun 13, 2014
  • More »

More by Scott Renshaw

  • Movie Reviews: New Releases for April 16

    Monday, Vanquish, In the Earth and more
    • Apr 15, 2021
  • Verse Chorus

    The virtual Utah Poetry Festival offers a chance to reflect on creating and presenting poetry in this unique time.
    • Apr 14, 2021
  • Viral Video

    Ben Wheatley's In the Earth explores the pandemic through the lens of a psychedelic thriller.
    • Apr 14, 2021
  • More »

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Viral Video

    Ben Wheatley's In the Earth explores the pandemic through the lens of a psychedelic thriller.
    • Apr 14, 2021
  • Binge No More

    The week-to-week rollout of Disney+ Marvel TV series is building momentum.
    • Apr 7, 2021
  • The Deep End

    French Exit is a delight, as long as it's not trying to strive for profundity.
    • Mar 31, 2021
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Simple Creatures

    The monster movie Sputnik can't deliver the subtext it promises
    • Aug 12, 2020

© 2021 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation