Friday, January 10, 2014
Saving Mr. Banks
Of all the December-released movies that I wanted to see, I probably wanted to see Saving Mr. Banks the least. Not to say that I expected bad things, but I have no special connection to Mary Poppins nor was I blown away by the magic-filled trailers for a film that looked as if it would shove Disney down your throat until you could no longer bare it. However, I knew that Emma Thompson's performance would be impressive, and I was intrigued to see how well Tom Hanks handled Walt Disney (even though I don't really a preconceived notion of what Walt Disney should act like). Also, I usually enjoy dramatic, non-cartoon, non-action Disney films, such as The Odd Life of Timothy Green, The Rookie, and Remember the Titans, so I figured I might enjoy Saving Mr. Banks...
Although I knew the story would eventually end in the making of a Mary Poppins film, I must say that the path to the making of the film was quite intriguing. I don't know how true the story was, but I didn't really care. I just wanted to be entertained, and that I was. Thankfully, the amount of Disney-shoving-down-the-throat was minimal. Sure, there was a lot about Disney, but I wasn't overwhelmed by the praise that landed on the shoulders of Walt Disney and his love of all things him. With the good, there was some bad, however, and that bad came in the form of flashbacks to the childhood of Emma Thompson's P.L. Travers. Each and every time that the movie cut to Travers' childhood I just couldn't help but cringe. Not only did I not care, but I also hated the fact that the interesting story was being continually interrupted by an uninteresting story. If they had a spent a moment at the beginning of the film explaining her childhood, I would have been content. If they had spent a moment late in the film allowing her to tell the story of her childhood, I would have been content. But, instead, they interrupted the movie every ten minutes and revealed what was the slowest unfolding of a flashback that I have ever witnessed. Everyone may not have the same opinion as me, but I just couldn't stand that part, and it was a huge portion of the film.
Saving Mr. Banks was certainly well-cast, and the performances were quite impressive. However, they weren't quite as impressive as I expected them to be. In fact, I wouldn't expect a film of this kind to be getting so much Oscar praise, but what do I know... Sure, Emma Thompson was good, but I don't think she was amazing. Luckily, however, there were a few actors who shone bright...
Ruth Wilson's Margaret Goff was one of the most shallow characters that I have ever been meant to feel sorry for. Although Collin Ferrell's character was supposed to cause her grief, I really didn't care about her whatsoever. Additionally shallow was Aunt Ellie, played by Rachel Griffiths. Her character was quite important, in the grand scheme of things, but she was only on screen for like 5 minutes, which was quite disappointing. If they were going to flash back and forth 300 times, they could have at least included her a bit more. I can't really explain who all these people are without ruining a large part of the story, so just take my word on these two.
As I said before, I don't have a preconceived idea of the true Walt Disney, but I will say that I was quite impressed with Tom Hanks's performance. The way that he was able to make me care for Disney and avoid shoving Disney down everyone's throat was quite impressive. Without his performance, I think the film would have failed... big time. The only other character that I loved was Paul Giamatti's limo-driving Ralph, who really helped bring out the best in Emma Thompson's performance. Giamatti is one of my favorites, and I love it when he finds a role, such as this one, that is so well suited for him.
Going in, I thought Saving Mr. Banks would be a bit of a one-woman show, but, as it turned out, the men really carried the film. Tom Hanks was absolutely great, and, if you take his performance from Captain Phillips and ad it to this one, he might make my list of best actors in 2013. You will just have to wait and see! Saving Mr. Banks was a nice family film that any Mary Poppins fan would thoroughly enjoy. If I was a Mary Poppins fan, there is no telling how much I would have enjoyed it. However, as far as being an Oscar contender goes, I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Usually, I can at least see what the Academy likes about a movie, but that is not the case with Saving Mr. Banks, which suffers a bit from that sappy Disney feel. Unlike Remember the Titans (one of the greatest sports films of all time), Saving Mr. Banks is not one of the greatest sports films of all time... In case you couldn't figure that one out on your own! But, oh well! I give Saving Mr. Banks 2.83 out of 5 stars.