Thursday, December 19, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks


First off, no, this is not the sequel to 'Saving Private Ryan' (though it does feature Tom Hanks.)  Hanks plays Walt Disney.   Emma Thompson plays P. L. Travers, the author of 'Mary Poppins'.   And this is the story of how the classic film came to be (and almost didn't.)

People who know me know I'm a huge Walt Disney fan.  I loved his movies growing up, and even though I'm long past childhood, I still think of Walt Disney World as the greatest and most magical place on Earth.  And the man responsible for all of this I hold in the highest esteem.  I've always felt this way.  So ever since I heard about this film, probably over a year ago, I have been excited.

I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but this was certainly not exactly what I expected.  For one, it's darker in parts than I would have thought.  And for that reason, and its mature subject matter, it really isn't a kid friendly film.  The children in my audience seemed awfully bored.  Of course, I'm usually all for films being geared towards mature audiences, but I just wasn't expecting this to be one of them, and I think I would have preferred it not be.  The film is interspersed with Travers' backstory, and every time it goes back, it kills the pacing and brings the film to a screeching halt.  The current day scenes, however, all range from very good to excellent.  The supporting cast is superb and they all do a tremendous job, particularly Jason Schwartzman and Paul Giamatti.  Emma Thompson is quite good too (though her character is so unlikeable it's awfully hard to appreciate her performance.)  And it's Tom Hanks that just lights up the screen and makes me feel as if I got a few precious moments Mr. Disney himself.  His scenes alone felt like a gift, and I'm grateful to get yet another from him one more time.

Grade: A-

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