Winds in the east, mist coming in. Like somethin’ is brewin’ and bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
-Bert from Mary Poppins
Those winds in the east (or maybe in this case the west 😉 ) bring us the latest from Walt Disney Studios, ‘Saving Mr. Banks’, opening in theaters nationwide today, December 20th, 2013. I’ve been excited for this movie since I first heard about it in July! In that post 5 months ago, I shared some adorable photos & videos explaining why Mary Poppins holds a little extra special place in my heart.
About the movie…
Inspired by true events, “Saving Mr. Banks” is the extraordinary, untold story of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen—and the testy relationship that the legendary Walt Disney had with author P.L. Travers that almost derailed it. Two-time Academy Award®–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”
When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.
For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.
It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.
While the plot centers around those two weeks in 1961 and Disney trying to obtain the rights to “Mary Poppins”, really about half the film takes us to 1906 Australia. In a series of repeated flashbacks throughout the movie, we get the very personal details of P.L. Travers childhood. The young Travers idolizes her father (played by Collin Farrell), who is a dreamer and quite charming. Sadly though, between her overwhelmed mother and her father’s alcoholism, her childhood is less than dreamy. So, we see where the story of “Mary Poppins” really originated and all the old emotional wounds & baggage that has shaped Travers into the stiff curmudgeon she is as an adult.
We loved this movie! Even though it’s a film where everyone knows how it ends (since “Mary Poppins” went on to win five awards of its 13 Academy Award® nominations), there are many surprises. This is the first film to depict the iconic entrepreneur Walt Disney, in which Tom Hanks does a great job with the role. However, the HUGE standout is Emma Thompson. She plays the uncompromising, stiff author so well! Truly, much of her demeanor seems completely extreme and unbelievable – like her demand that the color red cannot be used in the film. And then, the credits roll at the end where you get to hear actual audiotape recordings of the real Travers during the sessions. Wow! Like many I assume, I find myself absolutely shocked by her and found her so unlikable. Yet, as the film goes on, I ended up feeling so sorry for her. In many ways, I think the film shows what a profound effect your parents and your childhood can have on your life (for better or worse).
While the flashback scenes are absolutely vital to the whole backstory (and Collin Farrell is outstanding), many of those scenes were hard to watch. Heartbreaking really. And, those are the scenes that make this movie NOT for kids! This is not a sugar-coated remake of Mary Poppins. While there are some absolutely charming, funny, and very Disney-esque scenes, there are almost as many sad, emotional, and disturbing moments of Travers’ past with an alcoholic father that earns the film a PG-13 rating. For older kids (I’d say teenagers for sure) and adults though, this is an absolutely fabulous movie! It’s somehow a mix of heartbreaking & heartwarming, funny and sad all at the same time, in a way that definitely works well (dare I say, “practically perfect”?! 😉 ). And, if you’re a Disney fan, you’ll LOVE the Disney nostalgia — seeing Walt up on the big screen, the behind-the-scenes making of the film, and the glimpses at what 1960s Hollywood, Walt Disney Studios, and Disneyland were like!
Are YOU excited for this new Disney movie?
Disclosure: We saw this movie at a free press screening at the invitation of Disney. All opinions and experiences are 100% my own and your opinion of the movie may differ from mine.