Running Time: 2 hours 6 minutes
Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), has waited twenty years to fulfill the promise he made to his daughters to bring Mary Poppins to life on the silver screen, but he has to convince the stubborn P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to sign over the film rights. Declining book sales and lack of personal funds, are the only reasons why Travers agrees to travel to California to discuss the film. For two weeks, in the summer of 1961, the team at Disney works tirelessly to convince Travers of their vision, but she seems determined to find fault with all their suggestions. Unbeknownst to them, Travers is struggling to come to grips with the ghosts from her past that led to the creation of Mary Poppins.
Saving Mr. Banks is a testament to great acting. All the performs were excellent. Thompson strikes a delicate balance showing us Travers as a curmudgeon, while also getting us to love her. As Walt Disney, Hanks ranges from jovial showman to frustrated business tycoon, as he tries to figure out how to persuade Travers he won’t ruin her beloved story. Walt’s character fully emerges when he finally reveals his own dark past and Hanks is brilliant in the scene. My favorite performances were from Colin Farrell as Travers Goff and Paul Giamatti as Travers’ chauffeur, Ralph. Both men gave subtle nuance to their characters, even though their roles were small.
Saving Mr. Banks is a quiet film that was more somber than I’d expected. Although the acting was strong, the movie was too slow and spent far too long on the harrowing past of Travers. Unlike, Mary Poppins, which managed to capture whimsy, fantasy, sadness and redemption, Saving Mr. Banks was only sad. I would have loved to have more of that Mary Poppins whimsy to make me truly love the film. B