Reel Quick: Saving Mr. Banks


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Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

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Starring: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Paul Giamatti, Rachel Griffiths

Directed by: John Lee Hancock

Synopsis: Disney’s attempt to fellate themselves with an autobiographical account of the making of the classic Mary Poppins, specifically focused on the reluctance of author, P.L. Travers (Thompson) and Walt Disney’s (Hanks) fight to get the beloved movie made. 

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What work(s): I really did not want to see this film. It was basically the only film my wife and I had time for to stream on Amazon. This film is a no-brainer, in that you don’t have to think too much on it and that it’s going to be a decently-done enough to at least not hate it. Hanks, Thompson and company do a fantastic job as usual in the acting department. The music, writing and cinematography are all made professionally and the film is in focus. There’s really nothing to say negatively about the film—or at the very least, worth my time talking in length about. 

The real stand-outs in the film are the musical brothers, Robert & Richard Sherman played by Novak and Schwartzman respectively. They were the only ones who were entertaining and memorable. 

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What fail(s):  See above. But to elaborate further I will say that it is too long; the flashback scenes could’ve been trimmed or deleted entirely. They are way too boring and sappy for the rest of the film. The film on a whole is predictable and hackneyed. You know what’s going to happen and if not for the high caliber actors this would be on ABC Family or Lifetime.

Overall: This is just another bio-pic style feature about an artist or author in the vein of Finding Neverland or Shakespeare in Love. Whimsical, melodramatic, charming and ultimately amounting to very little. Most bio-pics are now so trite and boring and filled with too many artistic licenses with actual truth that it’s better to just read a well done biography instead. I never knew nor cared that Mary Poppins was a book before the movie. Most people probably didn’t realize that either. But if you love golden age Disney, Tom Hanks and a very bitter and bitchy Emma Thompson, then this film is for you.

Score: 4.5 Supercalifragilisticexpialidociouses (out of 10)

10 thoughts on “Reel Quick: Saving Mr. Banks

  1. I’ve never understood why some people say the flashbacks aren’t important. They aren’t only important but crucial. This is essentially a movie about the relationship between a father and a daughter and how said relationship effects the daughter and her writing later in life. Yeah, you could maybe just tell the audience about the relationship, but its so much more powerful to show it instead of telling it.

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    • Actually, you’re correct that the flashbacks were essential to the motivation and emotions of Travers and should not be deleted. However, I do stand by my criticism of them and how sappy and boring they are. Too many films these days are abusing the flashback. This film and countless others are using almost half the running time or so on flashbacks. It’s like there’s a prequel sandwiched in the actual movie. I’m usually all for “show don’t tell” but that’s more for exposition and linear storytelling. Imagine if other great movies over-used the flashback. Imagine if there was a flashback in Jaws of a young Quint and his fight for his life after the Indianapolis was torpedoed. Imagine if there was a flashback of a young Kate finding her dead Santa Claus-suited dad in the chimney on Christmas Eve from Gremlins. The story that they tell in their movies enhances their character and shows how well the actors’ can actually act and emote. Using completely different actors acting out the past is good and all but doesn’t make such a great or interesting movie all the time. Sometimes it’s not more powerful to actual show it. Now I know there’s someone reading this and saying “What about Godfather part II?” Well, truth be told I don’t like Godfather II as much as the first. Sacrilege I KNOW but that’s how I feel. It’s two movies squashed together—a prequel and a sequel rolled into one and it’s a goddamned marathon of a movie. A great movie, no doubt and there’s no effing way I’m going further to compare a cinematic classic like Godfather II to Saving Mr. Banks, which will be forgotten in a half-decades time.

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      • Firstly, good points about the flashbacks. I don’t agree that they were boring, but I do agree that a director needs to be precise in their use. Some movies and some directors center around two different time periods and flashbacks are a vital part of the story. For example, some mystery films might steadily reveal information in flashbacks until the end of the film. This an be very effective if done right. certain directors are also very found of using flashbacks, like Christopher Nolan, who rarely doesn’t use them in some way.

        Two, I also like the first Godfather more than the second. Both are still great, but I like the first one more. I think the two stories are important, though, as they say things about each other. But to each their own.

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  2. Nice review. : ) you’ve said EXACTLY what I expect to get out of this movie. I know it’ll be totally shallow & all that but I still really want to see it. I love that Disney shit. And I wonder if it’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidoci like octopi?! ; )

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