Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks review: A spoonful of Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson

tom hanks walt disney saving mr banks

Saving Mr. Banks is based on the true story of Walt Disney trying to convince P.L. Travers to give him the movie rights for her book, Mary Poppins. A Disney-produced movie about Disney is sure to make some people skeptical about how truthful the film can be. Will they portray him in a more realistic way, or will we see his as a godly saint?

Even though Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) is featured in the movie, he’s not the main character (Hanks was only reported to be involved in the movie for about 3 weeks). The focus is Emma Thompson as the prickly and stubborn P.L. Travers. As the British author, she tries to preserve Mary Poppins from it being turned into a musical, and worse…a cartoon (we all know how that turns out).

saving-mr-banks (1)

Travers has been denying Walt Disney’s attempt at getting the rights for years, but once he finally sends her an invite to meet him personally, she agrees. Once she gets to Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, she meets with songwriters Bob (B.J. Novak) and Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford).

Tom Hanks portrays Walt Disney as the folksy and charming gentleman we’ve grown to know from his TV appearances. Since it’s a Disney production, we won’t see him as a flawed man, but he does say “damn” once and gets frustrated with Travers’ stubbornness. The two clearly are opposites; for example, Walt Disney prefers everyone to call him by his first name, and P.L. Travers prefers being addressed by her surname.

saving-mr-banks (2)

The fun is in watching Travers be a pain in the arse for the filmmakers, like telling them that Mary Poppins doesn’t use silly words and how the color red should be omitted in the film. Every concept by DaGradi and the Sherman Brothers gets shut down by her, but as the movie progresses, she’ll slowly begin to let things go.

Travers’ backstory as a young girl living in Australia also gets touched upon. What? She’s wasn’t raised in the UK as a young girl? Yeah, I was surprised. The backstory is vaguely similar to Mary Poppins’ story. Her dad, Travers Goff (Colin Farrell), is a bank manager falling on hard times, and her aunt comes to the house to be a nanny. Goff is a fun-loving dad who encourages Travers to always have fun and use her imagination. Later on, we see that he has an issue with alcoholism. You can then understand why she’s very protective about her book, since Mary Poppins is loosely based on her family life. Even though the flashbacks do payoff near the end, it felt very melodramatic at times compared to the lighthearted current setting.


The highlight of the film is definitely Tom Hanks’ and Emma Thompson’s portrayal, and it’s always fun to see them butt heads. Although the ending is very romanticized from what actually happened, it’s clear that the filmmakers are trying to convey the same message as what Walt Disney did to Mary Poppins. That is, we get to see a sentimental tale of a person who turns from cold to very warm.

Grade: B+

Facebook Comments