Valdosta Daily Times

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December 26, 2013

Review: ‘Mr. Banks’ saves holiday movies

- — “Saving Mr. Banks” (Period Drama: 2 hours, 06 minutes)

Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, and Colin Farrell

Director: John Lee Hancock

Rated: PG-13 (Strong language and thematic elements)

Movie Review: “Saving Mr. Banks” is superior because of one person in particular, two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson. She is moving as Pamela Lyndon Travers, the Australian-born British novelist who gave readers Mary Poppins.

Walt Disney (Hanks) wants to make a movie of his daughters’ favorite book, “Mary Poppins.” The author of the book, P.L. Travers (Thompson), has refused Disney for two decades. Finally, Travers allows Disney to make the film, but she has some reservations and requests. Travers must approve everything before the film happens. Until then, the curmudgeon will not grant Disney the rights to make the film. Disney’s task will not be easy. Travers detests animation, hates Americans and does not want characters misused. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney must persuade Travers that he will meet her requests and make her a proud moment in moviedom.

This film is a nice recollection of the making of the 1964 musical “Mary Poppins.” “Saving Mr. Banks” is noteworthy in that it is about one of the most popular films of yesteryear. It is an easy film in which to indulge.

The star in this nice drama is Thompson. She more than ably carries the film. Her grumpy P.L. Travers is an interesting role, and Thompson appears to be enjoying herself. Thompson is good to the point that, Hanks, also a two-time Oscar recipient, pales in comparison. While Thompson and Hanks are the major stars, their scenes are one-sided because Thompson is superb. Surely, she deserves an Oscar nomination for her performance, providing one of this year’s best female leads.

Hanks is good, but he never appears to be Walt Disney. His performance is not bad. Thompson’s performance is just that good.

The film’s best moments are between Thompson and Giamatti. For a moment, they are similar to “Driving Miss Daisy.” Giamatti is the chauffeur for Thompson’s character. Giamatti’s Ralph is always upbeat, and his client, Travers, is always pessimistic. Their scenes are the best moving moments of this screenplay.

Director Hancock (“The Blind Side,” 2009) makes this film fun. He also allows for some nice additions to this movie. He nicely uses flashbacks that involve Colin Farrell, who plays P.L. Travers’ father, Travers Goff, and talented young actress Annie Rose Buckley, playing P.L. Travers as a child. Not many films use flashback well, especially when applied throughout a screenplay. Hancock and writers Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith do a spectacular job with the Travers memory sequences.    

He adds clips from the 1964 “Mary Poppins” film, archival pictures of notable people and archival audio of the real P.L. Travers working with Disney crew and staff members. These items add to this film’s fine manner of entertainment.

Grade: B+ (This photoplay helps save the Christmas holiday season.)

 

“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (Comedy: 1 hour, 59 minutes)

Starring: Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner and Christina Applegate  

Director: Adam McKay

Rated: PG-13 (Sexual innuendo, profanity, crude humor, violence and drug usage)

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