Disney is smart. Their opulence and sprawling wealth should show that enough. They run the world. They have a hand in almost everything. In Saving Mr. Banks we see the behemoth in its younger days. Walt is trying to get the rights to PL Travers classic children’s book, Mary Poppins. And that is the last thing I will directly tell you about the plot of this film because, as always, there will be no spoilers here. Not now. Not ever.
I will get my recommendation out of the way early for those of you waiting on that so you can scamper off to other websites. You should see this movie. It is a great movie and it made me feel things I haven’t felt in some time. I don’t know that it’s true, the movie I mean, as there are resounding reports that Walt was a bit of a dick and that Travers wasn’t exactly taken with the final product, but there is something to this film. It awakens things in you, if you let it.
Oh, heart! What heart it has! What heart it brings and brings out in you. It shakes your chest and rouses it out of its cold, hard slumber. The film manages to capture childhood and all its desires: to have every single thing perfect and happy and unchanging. And when reality sets in and shows itself to be a leveler, it is a sad thing. It rips the magic away from the glossy, dreaming eyes of a child and we are left to see our world and all those in it as they truly are. Life is not all horseback riding with our loved ones through wheat fields on hills overlooking lovely Australian valleys. But we wish it was, no?
Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag.
It strikes me that Disney’s intelligence is not just limited to their business acumen. It has been a bit since they’ve had a film that I felt was truly great and, sitting there in the theater letting the movie wash over me, this picture was a reminder of what they’re capable of when running full boar and offering up a story worth telling. Of course, it should be mentioned that their intelligence, with regard to this film, extended into the casting as well. A fantastically rigid and felt performance from Emma Thompson. You get to first feel for Travers because Giamatti let’s us see her humanity in his eyes. Farrell is wonderfully tragic as Travers’ father. But the crown jewel of the film, as he has been time and again — Hanks.
Disney knows how it is viewed and they are aware of the stories surrounding Walt Disney. Some with much more knowledge than I have posited that Walt was a dick, and we see that side of him briefly in the film, but overall he comes out like a colloquial, Midwestern rose. If you have a character you want people to like but you fear that they’ll be hated, let Hanks play them. That guy must be the most likable guy in America.
But back to the awakening. You see, when I was child, there was a magical feeling to Disney. I suspect that it is still there, perhaps in smaller doses, in today’s children. You want to go to its theme parks and visit the Disney Store in the mall every chance you get and you’re shown its movies time and again. These lovely animated pictures that have immersed themselves into the culture and burrowed themselves deep inside your heart and your mind. At their best they were an otherworldly force because they taught you lessons and told you stories of love and being true to yourself and how doing what’s right is the most important thing. They conveyed to you that anything on earth was possible. This movie made me feel those things again. It is good to love. It is so very good to love.
Anyway, again, go see the movie. I’ll be forcing the team to do so soon enough. Let us go fly a kite.