ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Movie Review: The Saving Grace of Saving Mr. Banks Will Be Sure Money At The Box Office

Updated on January 9, 2014

For those with imagination, adversity spawns excellence.

Saving Mr. Banks, due to be wide-released on Friday, December 20th, is sure to move anyone who has seen the clay feet of their personal hero, experienced the healing pain of self-wisdom, or triumphed over adversity. With absolutely nothing in common, except a little thing like overcoming their incredibly difficult childhoods to become world-class talents, Walt Disney and the very reluctant Mary Poppins' author, P.L. Travers, couldn't be more at odds.

Saving Mr. Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, opens with sound lyrics from the original, however, now an enigmatic poem, and tells the true story of how these strong-willed celebrities managed to come to contractual terms and make a movie despite cultural, artistic, and personal differences. But don’t think for a minute this movie is a pedantic piece about negotiations and contracts; it feels more like a delightful romp with the imaginative genius behind the stellar movie-making Disney vehicle, albeit the more personal and accessible vehicle of the early '60's. Disney on Disney may not be strictly accurate, biographically speaking, but it certainly doesn't disappoint.

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and P.L. Travers in the Disney film, Saving Mr. Banks.
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson as Walt Disney and P.L. Travers in the Disney film, Saving Mr. Banks.

Mr. Tom Disney… Walt Hanks… a blurred distinction.

Do our name stars deliver? If you think you’ve already seen the best of Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, think again. This film may not be able to compete with Saving Private Ryan or Sense and Sensibility for substance and theme, and the characters may not be as noble, but I for one, however, left the theater moved and gratified by the sheer elegance of the story of the lives of these real life rags-to-riches heroes. Through their inspired transformations into these complex characters, Hanks and Thompson put factual and arresting faces on a theme that never grows old for the American audience.

A-lister, Emma Thompson takes us into the straight-laced, distressed world of the unorthodox British writer, P.L. Travers, shows us how she arrived there, and then, returns us with a new sense of appreciation for the human spirit. Call it a "coming of age for middle-aged adults," when Travers, facing financial ruin, is compelled to release the object of her creation, Mary Poppins, in whom she has wrestled down the demons of her own adverse upbringing, to the cartoon-creating Disney.

Why does heartbreak seem to live hand in hand with creative expression? Through scenes where we see pages and pages of freshly written scripts flung out of a window, or a child's poem churlishly dismissed, we are reminded how much heart is worn on the sleeve of the artist. Mrs. Travers, desparate not to hand over her own precious creation, Mary Poppins, is no exception.

In this treatment, Hanks projects Disney's more redeemable traits, his inspiration, energy, tenacity and a supreme salesmanship based on intuition and compassion. Right up there with one of my favorite great scenes of persuasion—Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty) reversing Howard Beale's (Peter Finch) outlook in Network—Hanks delivers the paradigm shifter when, on the heels of the fleeing Travers, he arrives at her doorstep in England and proceeds to change her unalterable mind.

From bittersweet innocence to softly seasoned altruism—a full cast of delicious talent.

The scene-stealing performance of young Annie Rose Buckley needs to be mentioned. She plays the young P.L. Travers opposite a prosaic Colin Farrell as her father, Travers Robert Goff. Despite the daunting presence of Disney production elements and a stellar cast, their poignant scenes may be the ones that linger in movie-goers' minds. Their scenes are breaths of fresh Australian county air, interwoven throughout the 1961 Hollywood Disney/Travers year of creative collaboration. While these sequences could easily have been propped up by the beautiful sets and cinematography alone, their heart wrenching performances sparkled like crown-topping jewels.

With a substantial repertoire of major roles already under his belt, Colin Farrel delivers an excruciating performance of the man that inspired his daughter's professional success and personal anguish. As Travers Goff, a man hopelessly at odds with his circumstances, yet, irrepressibly cavalier, Farrel's characterization gives us a falling hero brandishing his soulful poetry.

Another caveat of this film is the portrayal of the Disney talent, the Sherman brothers, played by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak. Many have been enchanted by the results of the magical collaboration between lyricist and composer, such as the likes of Gilbert and Sullivan or Rogers and Hart, but few have witnessed or experienced that creative process. The Sherman scenes make us feel as if we're brushing elbows with the genius behind the Disney world of entertainment. We have insider seats to the talent and energy Disney nurtured in creative men such as these. The personification in multi-talented Schwartzman and Novak sets a light-hearted tone, that's finally, comedically, irresistible even to the undauntable Travers.

I would be remiss, not to give a special shout out to Paul Giamatti, for his sure-handed treatment of his character, Ralph, the driver. While he provides P.L. Travers with a metaphorical 'soft place to land,' he also reminds us that although there are quietly wonderful people in this world, they may be hard to find and harder to recognize.

Annie Rose Buckly as Ginty, the young P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks
Annie Rose Buckly as Ginty, the young P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks

"Winds in the east, mist coming in..." - Bert the Chimneysweep

In the original book, Mary Poppins is blown onto the doorstep of Mr. Banks by the east wind. In the Mary Poppins Disney movie, the Sherman brothers write these delightful lyrics for Dick Van Dyke (as Bert, the Chimneysweep), "Winds in the east, mist coming in, like something is brewing, about to begin." When uttered in Saving Mr. Banks, the words are pure poetry and take on a hauntingly soft tone. Ominous? Fortuitous? It's a change, however much needed, with the uncertainty of the inevitable.

I think the message resonating in the theaters showing Saving Mr. Banks is going to be received quite well. Along with Mrs. Travers, today's audience may notice a coming-to-terms with their own heroes or their own lives'. Whether we're struggling with the dual natures of our fathers or the dubiousness motives of world leaders, aren't we all wondering… where are the patriarchs in whose hands we are good?

Now, as never before, it can seem, we are very far from finding that longed-for hero that will turn the world around and set everything aright. In its struggle to keep intact the integrity of the flawed patriarch, Saving Mr. Banks explores hope and the wisdom of perspective. Hat’s off to Walt Disney Pictures for showing us the saving grace of imagination, and the wisdom of reality.

"This is what we storytellers do, we restore order with imagination," shares Tom Hank's Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks. It's just this necessary juxtaposition of the serious and sane with the frivolous and fanciful, that makes this film as lovely as it is meaningful.

Ralph the Driver, played by Paul Giamatti in Saving Mr. Banks
Ralph the Driver, played by Paul Giamatti in Saving Mr. Banks

P.L. Travers' childhood town in Australia

A markerallora australia -
Allora QLD 4362, Australia
get directions

P.L. Travers' childhood home when her father passed away.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      That's a good idea. That's how I came up with the idea in the first place... I think I dreamed about it. Thanks Elaine. :)

    • EGamboa profile image

      Eileen Gamboa 4 years ago from West Palm Beach

      Oh hello, we must be on the same schedule. Random. I was thinking, that you probably know your characters pretty well by now. When I was copywriting, and I wanted to come up with a good headline, I would think about it before I went to sleep. I'd always wake up with something. Maybe you could try that with your characters/action. Think about it before you fall asleep, then, see if you have new ideas in the morning.

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      Aren't you sweet! I do need to keep writing. I lost speed at 46k words... but it's seeing them as the actors who I'd like to portray them that keeps me wanting to find out what happens to them. Thanks for the encouragement... on *your thread no less. :)

    • EGamboa profile image

      Eileen Gamboa 4 years ago from West Palm Beach

      No, my tv channels are basic and limited. Colin is the BEST in this movie though. Yummy. Write on madam Beth; can't what to see your book in the movies. (you never know!?!?!)

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      I know, I read... sigh. Colin Farrell, the Irishman with black hair and eyes to match? He is the hero of the book Im writing... you know, when they make it into a movie. :)

      I am a big fan of Paul Giamatti too from John Adams (HBO), did you see it? The best thing I've ever seen on film or TV.

    • EGamboa profile image

      Eileen Gamboa 4 years ago from West Palm Beach

      Yes, she's great. Colin Ferrill is also great in this show. I must look for Wit. Thanks so much for you comments and vote!

    • profile image

      Beth37 4 years ago

      I LOVE Emma Thompson. She did a movie called Wit, about a woman with cancer. The movie just sticks with you for years and years. This movie, Banks, looks awesome. I am really looking forward to it coming out on Redbox. Voted up! :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)