The first impression of “Saving Mr Bank” is that Walt Disney Pictures is flirting with its own past success and shoves it right at your face. Perhaps it is shameless act to simply making a movie about one of their biggest movies of all time – “Mary Poppins”. But it turns out that this John Lee Hancock’s movie is not at all looks opportunistic, but it settles down as a semi-autobiography with a spoonful of sugar-delight and a very emotional story package that really inspires.
The movie narrates the struggle of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) in trying to secure the film rights of Mary Poppins from the author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). Travers is not exactly a friendly one and she constantly bullies her way on the screenwriter (Bradley Whitford) and the song writing duo, Sherman Brothers (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak). Disney is desperate to make things right during Travers’ two weeks stay in Los Angeles, realizing that this movie project is a promise he made with his daughters some 20 years ago.
It is important to note that this movie was written outside of the Disney compound by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, before the script making its way in into the annual Black List and eventually attracted the studio executives to green-light it.
Eventually, the screenplay provided for Hancock to handle is seemingly brilliant. The movie opens in the outback of Australia in 1906, where the young Travers’ (real name Helen Goff) early life is pretty much dominated by her loving but alcoholic father whom is played by Colin Farrell. As the story mechanic goes on, we learned about Travers’ sour attitude was attributed to a bleak and shell-shocked childhood life she had which is constantly portrayed through a series of flashbacks that leads to the inspiration of Mary Poppins, hence making her too protective of her works.
While the movie juggles the timeline story between 1906 and 1964, the movie is very consistent in its tone, offering some light comedy, effective emotion and ensuring the essence of the backstage story is kept honest. Put aside some of the discrepancies you may have known, “Saving Mr. Bank” is not a movie made to paint any of the characters to look good or to look bad. Instead it gives Travers and Disney an essentially fair representation of their rough and smooth sides. The third act in the movie provides some closure and empathy for both of the characters whose miserable upbringing shapes who they are in the future.
“Saving Mr Bank” is lined with interesting and serviceable supporting characters that range from the project writer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) to the Sherman brothers, and from Ralph the chauffeur (Paul Giamatti) to Travers’ father (Colin Farrell whose performance is the best in years). But then and again, it is Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks who once again with their excellent performances that offers a reasonable and authentic frosty tale to the movie.
In the end, “Saving Mr. Bank” is a jolly good and extremely likeable movie feature that honours the creative ownership and interrogates the compromise in bringing the iconic alive. It is packed in a brilliantly written, heart-warming and poignant screenplay that fit along with soul-stirring performances from Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.