Saving Mr. Banks - Review

I came away from Saving Mr. Banks in state of absolute calm. Possibly because the message I took from it is that as a studio, Disney seems to be interested once again in just telling stories. It’s a smaller scale film which boldly wears its Disney-shaped heart on its sleeve. The film looks at both the making of Mary Poppins and the events of author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) life which moulded the iconic story.

Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) is taking his final shot at wooing P.L. Travers in order to obtain the rights to adapt her story into the classic film that we all know and love (well, you better damn well love). Ms Travers is concerned that her story will be completely destroyed by the process and is hell-bent on rejecting all advances made her way. It’s during this rocky courtship that Travers starts to reflect on her own life and why she is clinging so tightly to her characters.

The film is essentially told through two narratives that we flit between by way of flashbacks. The plot following Disney’s attempt to secure the film rights is handled with a lighter, slightly comical tone whereas the flashback sequences which take place in rural Australia have more dramatic weight to them, both of which I found completely engaging. This is a simple story without too many twists or turns and I’m perfectly happy with that.

The performances are the major asset of this film. It’s refreshing to see two seasoned actors at the top of their craft going toe to toe; Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks make for wonderful combatants. Their exchanges reminded me of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn trading blows in Desk Set (1957). Colin Farrell (In Bruges) and Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger) play Travers’ parents. Wilson’s Australian accent is one of the most convincing I’ve seen; she’s an actress I’m eager to see more of. Farrell brings warmth and charm to the story as the constant source of fun and imagination for young Travers, a role well suited to him. Jason Schwartzman, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford and Rachel Griffiths are all fun in their supporting roles. There’s a sincerity to the performances which encapsulates that heart-warming Disney feel of yesteryear.

As I eluded to in my Frozen review , Disney now owns nearly all of the major franchises, from Star Wars and Marvel to Indiana Jones. Throughout this film, Walt Disney is practically begging P.L Travers to entrust her story to him, so that he can share it with the world. This film could easily be read as an open letter from Disney to all the fan-boys and -girls out there worried about how Disney will handle their new acquisitions. Based on this film and what Disney has achieved over the past few years, I believe we are at the start of another golden era for the studio. Saving Mr. Banks will hopefully leave you happy and content. It’s a feel-good film that you can’t help but be swept away by.

Saving Mr. Banks hits cinemas on the 9th of January, if you see the film and agree or disagree with my thoughts feel free to drop a line below.

- Stu


  1. Though not everything in this film may be totally accurate, it still makes for an enjoyable, if very emotional viewing. Good review Stu.

  2. After having read "The Disney Wars" I'm glad that they didn't go with 100% accuracy. It's definitely on my watch list!

  3. "Saving Mr. Banks" vividly shows how the spark that ignites artistic expression can be struck from heartache, loss or even death.


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