Back in 2011, Saving Mr. Banks was listed on “The Black List,” a survey in which producers vote on the best screenplays that aren’t in production. Disney was aware of the script written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, but they had not made any statements declaring whether or not they wanted anything to do with the script. Disney basically had three courses of action: 1. Buy the script and bury it away until the world forgets about it. 2. Let another studio buy the rights to the script and then block any attempts they make to produce the film. 3. Buy the script, embrace the story and make a classic film. Disney went with the the third option, made the genius decision to cast America’s favorite actor, Tom Hanks, as Walt Disney and brought on Academy Award-winning director John Lee Hancock to make Saving Mr. Banks one of the most memorable films of 2013.
Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of P.L. Travers (Emma Thopmson) entering negotiations with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) over the rights of Mary Poppins. Although the film is primarily based in the 1960s and focuses on Travers working with Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) on the script, a good amount of the movie is devoted to Travers’ childhood and her father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell).
Saving Mr. Banks is sure to become a favorite movie for Disney and Mary Poppins fans worldwide and a lot of recognition will go to the cast behind it. The absolute star of the film is Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. Thompson put in hours and hours of time solely dedicated to capturing the voice and dialect of Travers, but beyond that, Thompson also mastered the ticks and attitude that defined Travers. A lot of criticism has already been placed on Tom Hanks for his “southern” accent in the film, but the key to understanding his performance at Walt Disney goes beyond the voice and into the gestures. True Disney fans will be able to tell that Hanks embodied Walt the most through his eyes, smiles, and his lovable personality. Jason Schwartzman’s performance as Richard Sherman cannot go without being mentioned, because he worked first hand with Richard Sherman to learn his stories about the experience as well as how to play the piano the “Richard Sherman” way. Colin Farrell is sure to grab an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Travers’ father, but some of the most emotional points of the film come courtesy of Paul Giamatti’s character, Ralph, as he interacts with and chauffers P.L. Travers.
Saving Mr. Banks may not be the film Disney fans have been waiting for to get a further glimpse into Walt Disney’s life, but it does tell the true story of a struggle between two people who cared a great deal about Mary Poppins and sheds some insight into the making of the film. Saving Mr. Banks has a limited release in theaters on Friday, December 13 and releases everywhere on Friday, December 20. Be sure to watch for our review and other Saving Mr. Banks blogs in the upcoming week!