Spoonful of Sugar: Review of ‘Savings Mr. Banks’

savings mr banks H

Wait, is that Mickey shadow carrying two butcher knives?! LOOK OUT, MARY POPPINS, LOOK OUT!

Rated PG-13, 125 minutes (watched 1/3/14) Review:
Somehow I doubt finicky PL Travers would approve of this story of how Walt Disney adapted Mary Poppins to the big screen. I’m sure details were sanded, massaged and fudged, but sometimes a story is so well-told and presented that you really just don’t care.

Savings Mr. Banks weaves two stories: Travers’s troubled childhood in turn-of-the century Australia and a 1950s Walt Disney’s persistent machinations to persuade her his vision for the movie wouldn’t ruin her characters. While the Australia scenes are good, they are merely the necessary emotional back story to the nitpicking and negotiating that went on to produce the beloved Poppins script and songs. As both plot lines go on, we see some of the reasons she is willing to argue so passionately for details decades later and harbors a hatred of pears. (She would chastise me for referring to “Poppins” by her last name. It’s always “Mary Poppins” and don’t you forget it!)

Emma Thompson doesn’t have to work too hard to be the cantankerous author, because she mostly wears a bewildered scowl the entire movie. She fights Disney (Tom Hanks, sporting a delicious pencil mustache) on every tiny detail: “No animated penguins!” “No made-up words!” “The songs are too whimsical!” She very passionately argues that there be no red in the film. “No red?” Disney asks, confused. “I’m just feeling off the color of late,” she replies as if this is a perfectly normally thing that sane people say. She insists all these back-and-forths be recorded and the actual tapes are played over the credits. It’s equally amusing and amazing that someone could be that difficult and still tug at your heartstrings.

If you love the 1964 Mary Poppins film or like seeing behind the curtain of Hollywood, this is a must-see.

(It’s rated PG-13, but for the life of me I don’t know why. The only thing I can think of it that Walt briefly smokes a cigarette and Travers’s pop has a bit of a drinking problem.)

mr banks tix
All that’s wonderful, but what’s the movie’s grade? I’m in a hurry here, buddy.
4/5 animated dancing penguins. The definition of heartwarming even if the real-life Travers would declare it sugary pap.

Where do I know that guy from?
The limo driver, Paul Giamatti? He’s been in a ton of stuff and played a ton of great roles. An interesting movie you may have missed that showcases his shlubbiness is American Splendor.

What is the star’s spirit animal?
Honey badger.

What color socks are you wearing right now?
We slept late, so I’m still sockless.

Spoiler alert!
Disney succeeds in getting the film rights.

Megan’s Take:
She wanted to give it a 5/5, but was concerned about grade inflation since she felts she’d been handing out 5s too much lately. (4/5)

Heard any good jokes lately?
What is Bruce Lee’s favorite drink? Wataaaaah!

Snacks eaten:
We mixed it up: Redvines and Cookiedough Bites and two Pepsi Icees.

Unrelated Word of the Day:
Mimesis muh-MEE-sis noun: imitation, mimicry

Would the movie have been any better with the addition of Morgan Freeman as narrator?
No.

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