Disney, as a rule, doesn’t put itself under the microscope very often. So giving us a peek behind the scenes at the less-than-ideal creative process for Mary Poppins is quite a gesture. Saving Mr. Banks (the title is a reference to the father in that famous 1964 film) introduces a rigid P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson), who refused for 20 years to let Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) adapt her most-beloved creation. When she finally relents, she obstructs every decision Disney and his creative team make to imbue Mary Poppins with a more Disney-fied feel. Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) balances that arc with Travers’ sad childhood in Australia. You’ll find necessary talking points there but it shouldn’t be half the film. Still, Emma Thompson is note-perfect and Tom Hanks gives one of those great Tom Hanks speeches in the final act that wraps this up beautifully.
Director: John Hancock
Producer: Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Paul Trijbits, Andrew Mason, Christine Langan and Troy Lum
Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Colin Farrell, Bradley Whitford, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths, Dendrie Taylor, Kathy Baker, Victoria Summer, Ronan Vibert, Annie Buckley and Melanie Paxson