I was intrigued to hear about “Saving Mr. Banks,” a movie about the untold story behind the making of “Mary Poppins,” starring Tom Hanks (who has already had an award-worthy year with his work in “Captain Phillips”) as the venerable Walt Disney and Emma Thompson (who has played her own magical governess in “Nanny McPhee”) as author P.L. Travers.
I was especially looking forward to seeing Hanks as Disney, a man who turned an animated mouse into one of the world’s largest and most powerful entertainment empires. He is someone who everyone knows by name but has never been featured prominently as a character in a movie about his life.
Only, “Saving Mr. Banks” is not really about Disney, or more correctly, this film is about Travers and how her own childhood led to the creation of Mary Poppins in her books, which was not necessarily translated faithfully into the film.
Rest assured, much of “Saving Mr. Banks” follows the creative genesis of many of the film’s iconic songs as written by Richard (Jason Schwartzman, “Moonrise Kingdom”) and Robert (B.J. Novak, “The Office”) Sherman, and is full of references and images that fans will enjoy, but the heart of this movie centers on Travers.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, “Saving Mr. Banks” is a wonderfully compelling story about the art of writing and how our life shapes our art. It is also a fun journey through the creation of one of the most well-known films in our vast collection of movies.