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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 2, 2014
As I prepared to post this review here on Amazon, there are already 596 reviews posted for “Saving Mr. Banks”. I wanted to point out that Amazon has a policy of grouping ALL reviews of ALL formats of a film together under each version. So you will find lots of reviews of the theatrical version here as well as review of the Amazon Instant version. Neither of these covers the bonus features on the DVD and Bluray. So I always recommend that buyers sort the reviews by “Most Recent” first and then look to see which format the reviewer is discussing. With that said, on to the Bluray + Digital version.

I had the chance to see this wonderful new film, when it premiered on the “big screen” here in Philadelphia. I had just finished seeing (and reviewing here on Amazon) the then-newly released Bluray of the restored Mary Poppins as well as the Deluxe Version of soundtrack CD for Saving Mr. Banks (you can find my review here on Amazon as well.)

I’ll try not to repeat many of the comments that other reviewers have covered but will give you my take on the film, which I loved. Emma Thompson is just great and so is Paul Giamatti (in a great supporting role). Tom Hanks does a decent Walt Disney but he still looks and sounds like Tom Hanks. I really want to recommend that before seeing SMB, you should revisit (or see for the first time) the original “Mary Poppins” – especially the new restored version noted above. You will get much more out of SMB that way.

The BD print is great with lots of what I call “Disney Color” to it. And the story – yes true – is fascinating.
Unlike most Disney home video releases, this one is a bit frugal on “bonuses” but what’s here is nice. There are three “deleted scenes” (though no commentary to explain why they were deleted), including the one delted “musical number”: “The Nanny Song”. You can hear composer Richard Sherman sing this as well as other original “demos” as bonus tracks on the Deluxe version of the Soundtrack CD. These three scenes total seven minutes. Then there is a nice 14 1/2 –minute featurette “The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to the Present” that has SMB Director John Lee Hancock giving a tour of the old Annimation SBuilding and comments from the children of the original “Mary Poppins” animators. There are no interviews with any of the SMB cast. The last bonus is a clip of the full crew and most of the cast singing the song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” – with Sherman playing the piano – on the last day of shooting. It runs just 1:47.

While it’s not considered a “bonus” the BD has another nice feature not listed on the package. When you get to the menu screen you will see the Wollensak reel-to-reel tape recorder that appears in the scene where P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson” is hearing the Sherman brothers play their songs for the first time. At the end of the film – over the credits – you will hear the actual records made by Travers. And they are repeated in the menu section as well. It gives a nice reality to the story.

So do I recommend the film? Yes, absolutely – but more for adults who remember seeing “Mary Poppins” than for children. For everyone, though, go find and see the BD of MP! It’s brilliant.

I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.

Steve Ramm
“Anything Phonographic”
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2014
This movie is one of the best things I have seen in a long time. In a time with useless drama, crude humor, and despicable characters, Saving Mr. Banks introduces the imperfections of the world, the challenges we strive to overcome, and the hope we have in a better future. Colin Farrell does a terrific job of portraying a father who loves his children with all his heart, despite struggling with alcoholism (and what seems to be depression). He is far from perfect, but tries to instill a sense of wonder, love of life, and imagination into his daughter's heart.

Emma Thompson, who plays the role of the writer of Mary Poppins (P.L. Travers), and the daughter of the Struggling Father when she grew up, shows us a woman who has seen the dark horrors of humanity. She does not care for imagination, or false beliefs; reality is her guide and constant companion. She remembers her father in a decent light, but in the dark corners of her mind recalls the faults of the man and the pain of losing him when she was so young.

Then there is Tom Hanks. There have been many roles that Mr. Hanks has taken upon himself. In none has he done better than the role he takes in this movie. As Walt Disney, he is a happy, cheerful man; he loves life, imagination, his fellow man, and the wonders of the world. As he wrestles with Ms. Travers for the right to help tell the story of Mary Poppins, he also tries to help rekindle the lost flames of Ms. Travers' hope, wonder, and faith in a bright future. Her story, Mary Poppins, is her recreation in part of her early childhood and how it should have ended, rather than the way that it did. And when he realizes it's true importance to Ms. Travers, like an old friend, he vows that he will save Mr. Banks (the character based upon her father).

This movie has made me laugh. It has made me cry. It has made me felt the pain Ms. Travers must have felt, and it has brought me joy. I would recommend this movie to anyone ;they would not be disappointed in its quality. Only the very low lives and trolls would find fault in this movie.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2013
When nominations were being made for the 2014 Golden Globes, I read that if Saving Mr. Banks were to get a nomination, it would have been in the drama category. That sounded odd. I mean Tom Hanks as Walt Disney trying to get the author of Mary Poppins to sign over movie rights, a drama? Now, the Golden Globes don’t always get it right – it’s kind of their thing, but regarding Saving Mr. Banks as a drama – they were right about this one.

It may seem a bit self-indulgent for a movie studio to make a movie about how amazing they were when they made another movie, but there’s more to this story than just that. Primarily, Saving Mr. Banks is the behind the scenes story of Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) furiously courting writer P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) in the hopes of getting her to sign over the movie rights to her Mary Poppins children’s books. Hanks summons all of the likability of well, Tom Hanks, to portray the larger than life filmmaker. His motive is to fulfill a promise to his daughters 20 years in the making, that he would produce a film about their favorite childhood books. Travers is the holdout as she has seen Disney’s films over the past 20 years and does not want her beloved characters to be romping around stage, singing, and worst of all…as cartoons! In 1961, Disney finally convinces Travers to at least visit Los Angeles, sit in with the writers, and see what happens.

Travers is a terror on Disney, his writers, and his staff. Her arrogant British ways are on full display, but it is clear that she has high defenses for a reason; these characters are important to her for reasons Disney can not possibly understand. Director, John Lee Hancock explores the layers of Travers through flashback, sporadically inserting scenes of her childhood with her parents Travers (Colin Farrell) and Margaret (Ruth Wilson). Through these flashbacks, the audience gets a rueful sense of Poppins’ origin. Hancock and his editors are brilliant at sensing when these scenes are necessary. This is especially evident in a fine scene set to the Mary Poppins song, “Feed the Birds.”

Cleary, Mary Poppins becomes a film and a film beloved by generations of people for 50 years now, so whether the film is made is not a source of tension whatsoever. The strength of the film is in its way that Travers and Disney slowly are able to find common ground. Doubtless, we are seeing some revisionist history. I’m sure that if another studio had been granted the rights to tell this story, we might get a different vision of Walt Disney, the man. However, Saving Mr. Banks does not seek to disparage its characters. Rather, it desires to explore some of the “magic” that makes characters and stories meaningful to us. The film is actually quite clever in its construction as it subtly mirrors the conflict in Mary Poppins through Travers’s fear of what blind capitalism might do to something she sees as so precious and pure.

Disney fans will also find much to enjoy as the nostalgia level is through the roof and hypnotizing. Memorable songs from Mary Poppins are strewn all over the film, and it is very enjoyable to watch these songs develop and be performed all over again. In one scene, as Paul Giamatti’s character, Ralph, drives Travers into Walt Disney Land for the first time, he may as well come back and pick us up too! In fact, during the credits photos of Walt Disney and all of the characters from the film are displayed and a real audio sample of the real P.L. Travers bossing around the writers can be heard. The film is laced with Disney, but the contact high is pleasant.

Thompson is irrepressibly repressive as Travers. It is a delight to see her take the lead again for the first time since reprising her role as Nanny McPhee in 2010; however, this is her finest and most substantial performance in many years. By the end of the film, she has the audience in the palm of her hand and conveniently one of the film’s final scenes takes place in a movie theater where the audience has no choice but to fully experience and empathize with her literally from per point of view. Hanks does an ample and sufficient job as Disney, but most of his scenes involve making puzzled looks or smiling a lot. There are several times throughout the film where viewers will ask themselves, “how is he ever going to get this woman to sign over the rights?” and he succeeds in making us understand, chiefly thanks to one fine speech towards the film’s end. Otherwise, Hanks is a recognizable caricature. It is certainly P.L. Travers’s story, but it would have been nice to get a bit more into Disney’s head than this film had intended.

Saving Mr. Banks is a surprisingly rich contextual film, appropriately layered to tell not one but two deeply related stories. I was surprised how caught up I found myself with the flashback scenes and consequently with how much I liked this film. A-

Saving Mr. Banks is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 12, 2014
SAVING MR. BANKS is a lovely little movie filled with assured performances from excellent actors, soft music, beautiful cinematography, and a gentle pace. It is an easy film to watch, and easier to like. Though much of the nuances of plot were spoiled by the trailers (oh, the curse of the Internet!), I found myself lulled into the narrative, and came out refreshed from the film (if not a little irked at a few plot points).

To get it over quickly, let's talk about those cons first. Then the pros. The main con I have with the film is about a little something called character arcs. Storywriting 101 says that your main character has to have an arc throughout the narrative - he/she has to change or grow. Ms. Travers did not. She began the film an insufferable dweeb, and remained an insufferable dweeb for the duration of the film. As the film progresses, and she remains mean and rude towards Disney and his staff no matter what their attempts to cajole her, entice her, please her, or impress her, it gets MORE than a LITTLE tiresome. It is only thanks to Emma Thompson's brilliant performance that I sympathized with her at all. Secondly, I only wish that the character of the REAL Mary Poppins was explored a bit more.

But heck, enough of cons. On to pros... Firstly, the cast of MR. BANKS is absolutely awesome. Emma Thompson gives a brilliant and memorable performance as Ms. PL Travers (never Pamela!), an author with a very different sense of style than the Yanks, approached by Walt Disney for her book rights. Tom Hanks reminds us why he's perhaps the greatest American actor of his age, with a funny and moving portrayal of Disney himself. The supporting cast - a charismatic Colin Farrell, a warm Paul Giamatti, and BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman as songwriters Dick and Bob Sherman give surprisingly subtle performances worthy of their high calibre.

As I mentioned before, the soft score, the warm lighting and cinematography, and the calm assurance of veteran actors all add up to a funny and heart-warming film with excellent production values and morals, that will have you singing "Let's go FLY a KITE!" in no time. I know *I* was singing, humming, or dancing to it for hours. My rating? 4 (and a half) flying kites! Now to rewatch Mary Poppins!

P.S. If this review was helpful in your decision, please give it a like. Thanks!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 19, 2013
If you've ever seen Marc Forster's ("World War Z," "Stranger Than Fiction") semi-biographical drama "Finding Neverland" from 2004, then "Saving Mr. Banks" may remind you of it. "Finding Neverland" is the story of how Scottish writer J.M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) created Peter Pan. In "Saving Mr. Banks," P.L. Travers has already created Mary Poppins but you're seeing the inception of a beloved film classic come to life. John Lee Hancock's ("The Blind Side") latest differs in how musical it is. Production spirals into absolute turmoil over the Mary Poppins film thanks to how difficult Travers is with the world she's created. The music often introduces this lighthearted atmosphere that feels very carefree, but then is often immediately crushed and decimated by Travers who has a way of bringing this depressing storm cloud into the room. It's an ongoing struggle throughout the film that effortlessly strings you along. If you've ever created anything in your life that you're passionate about then you can understand where Travers is coming from, but part of you desperately wants to see Travers cave and allow this film to be made. You find yourself rooting for both sides and in no way is that a bad thing.

Part of what makes "Saving Mr. Banks" so engrossing is how bits and pieces of Travers' childhood are interwoven in between the sequences taking place in the present. Her childhood mostly revolves around how close she was to her father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell) and how haunted by the demons of drinking ripped their family apart. Farrell gives what is arguably his most impeccable performance to date. Goff tells the most fanciful and elaborate stories to his daughter, is extremely creative when it comes to using his imagination to keep his children entertained, and puts playtime above everything else. Unfortunately, he's also extremely irresponsible and doesn't take care of himself properly. Farrell's portrayal of the character is sublime. Seeing how these events affect the adult Travers battling Walt Disney is also quite intriguing.

Tom Hanks is very warm and approachable as Walt Disney. He seems to have a very specific vision set in his mind of where he wants to take Mary Poppins, but Travers will have none of it. His smoking is what's getting the most attention; mostly because Walt Disney was a chain smoker and the film never shows him smoking. You hear his smoker's cough a handful of times and see him put out a single cigarette. Hank's performance is the most impressive when he's reminiscing about the worn Mary Poppins book he had growing up, his Mickey Mouse story, and his conversation with Travers about who she is and what her Mary Poppins story is really about. Tom Hanks has this soft voice that reels you in and a glimmer in his eye that always makes you feel like he sees the magic in everything.

"Saving Mr. Banks" is a whimsical and charming film that seizes hold of your childhood. The historical comedic drama tightly clutches on to the magic of what you grew up with and never lets it go. It's the cinematic equivalent of a heart of gold with absolutely exceptional performances from Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, and Emma Thompson.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2014
Saving Mr. Banks is a lovely film. A jolly holiday, you might say. If you haven't heard the buzz on this film, it concerns the back story of how Walt Disney took years (well, decades actually) to convince P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books to let Disney have the rights to make the Mary Poppins film.

Tom Hanks looks like he is having a wonderful time portraying the larger than life Walt Disney. Emma Thompson seems to be channeling every old crusty aunt she ever encountered as a child to bring the difficult and very odd authoress to the screen. Again, she appears to be having a ball.

Colin Farrell plays the lovable but unreliable father of Mrs. Travers in the flashback scenes of her childhood in Australia. Apparently after her father died, young Helen Lyndon Goff reinvented herself as Pamela Lyndon Travers and traveled to England to write after a failed stage career in Australia. The Disney version of the story is quite whitewashed, although you might not think so while watching the film. Travers was apparently a bisexual single mother who adopted only one of a set of twins after consulting with an astrologer about which boy to choose.

And if you think Emma Thompson is portraying Travers in a harsh light, stay behind in the theatre for the end of the credits, where they play some of the audio tapes of the meetings between the author and the film makers. She was a real piece of work!

Thankfully, the Mary Poppins film that we know and love so well was made by Walt Disney as it is perfection in my estimation. Well, perhaps it is a tad too long, which is also the case with Saving Mr. Banks but they are equally wonderful. You will enjoy this film, especially if like me, you have a soft spot for Mary Poppins and the Banks family.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2014
"Saving Mr. Banks" was not the film I expected it to be. The advertisements of it depict a paternal Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) butting heads futilely with a headstrong British matron, P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), about translating her children's book to the big screen. The impression you get is this is a comedy with some dramatic overtones. Nothing could cut further from the truth because this film tackles deeper themes. It's about adults who channel their energies into their work to accelerate the healing process from early childhood traumas. When the film begins Travers is introduced to Disney's creative team and she digs her heels in objecting to anything contradictory to her aesthetic of Mary Poppins. The film flashes back and forth from these sessions to her childhood in Australia. As work progresses on the projected film the protective defenses that Travers has erected begin to evaporate as she recalls her childhood calamities. When Travers storms out of the Disney offices allegedly in a snit over artistic differences it is then that Disney surmises that Travers created Mary Poppins to protect her from life's cruelties. "Saving Mr. Banks" is nothing short of brilliant casting similar magic that the "Mary Poppins" film cast in 1964. The film is meticulous in unraveling the two decade long mystery as to why Travers denied Disney the film rights to Mary Poppins and why she was so protective of her creation. I can't fathom why the picture or Thompson were not nominated for Oscars this year. This film is certainly better than the sterile and overrated "Gravity". "Saving Mr. Banks" has a resonance that's lacking in most films. I was curious why this film was rated PG-13 considering that "Mary Poppins" was the ultimate general audience film. There are thematic elements in the film that would probably be a little unsettling to younger audiences but nothing remotely offensive. I've never read the Mary Poppins books but I'm a long time fan of the film. I was fortunate enough to see the Broadway production in 2007.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2014
Good acting...of course. The story line, when you read what it is about or watch the trailers, it is hard to see how you could enjoy the film...except that with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, most of whatever they choose to act in is better than most. But the acting and nice photography holds you to the story, until you can feel the story taking off on it's own.

Essentially, the lady that wrote Mary Poppins, didn't have a very nice childhood and it soured her. She made her story, her substitute family. That substitute family were the only people she let in her life so she wouldn't get hurt. So when Disney, hounded and hounded her to get her to let them make a movie out of the book; only dire need for money made her consider it.

When you are trying to make a move for American families, as Disney did it; you want fun, music, characters, fantasy, animation... But this threatened the original story and was resisted by the author, so much so that tension in the viewers of "Saving Mr. Banks" becomes uncomfortable. We get flashbacks to the childhood that caused the problems in the life of the author of Mary Poppins: alcoholic father the point he drinks himself dead, mother falling apart, and a no-nonsense aunt to the rescue of the family.

Mr. Banks, the father in Mary Poppins is a banker, like the author's father was. Even in Mary Poppins he was not very likable...though the author idealized her own father who celebrated who she was in her childhood...even though he was an alcoholic; and discounted her own helpless mother. The trauma to the author came, because of the horrible situation and disgrace in which her father left the family. She loved him...but how could she love him? That is where the title, and the main story line of this film lies, in saving Mr. Banks, the father, in her memory...and in her story.

If you remember, at the end of Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks realizes that his family is the most important part of his life and he stops being such a prick. As the author, with the help of Disney, the writers, the environment changes the story so that Mr. Banks becomes worthy of love again, she works through her own issues to become whole again. And by doing this in "Saving Mr. Banks" we are all made a little more whole, a little more happy, a little more at peace with the bad things that have happened in our own lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 19, 2014
“Saving Mr. Banks” is the embellished story of the uneasy collaboration between “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and his creative team. Disney mounts an extravagant charm offensive to secure the rights to the author’s famous creation.

Travers is depicted as cantankerous, argumentative, rigid, and highly protective of her magical nanny. She also has little knowledge of the movie-making process, which becomes a difficult problem for Disney himself and his beleaguered staff. They are doing their best to wine and dine her, but she is wary of losing control and letting the studio turn “Mary Poppins” into just one more in a long line of animated features.

Ms. Thompson and Mr. Hanks both do a fine job, though it’s hard not to suspect quite a bit of Disney-fying of the characters as well as the story. We see long stretches in flashback of Travers’ youth in Australia and the devoted relationship with her father (Colin Farrell), who loved to spin yarns. But life’s hard knocks have molded her into a cold, arrogant, condescending presence who intimidates and even frightens those whose only goal is to make a good movie. Disney, in contrast, is depicted as all heart. The character of Ralph (Paul Giamatti), the chauffeur assigned to Travers in California, is on hand as a humanizing device. His soft-spoken manner and his personal burden helps put Travers’ concerns about “Mary Poppins” in perspective.

If you know a bit about P.L. Travers' background, you will see that the facts of her life have often been skewed in the film to polish the image of the Disney machine and Walt himself. However, the movie is entertaining in its own right and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a certifiable classic.

The Blu-ray edition contains deleted scenes, a tour of the Disney Studio, reminiscences by Disney employees who worked with Travers, and a tribute to composer Richard Sherman with a rousing rendition of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” by cast and crew.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2014
It's a little sad at points, so boys, don't agree to watch this one on a first date unless you're ok crying in front of your potential new lady.

It's a very touching movie that unfolds nicely as it goes on. There are cuts from the past to the present which slowly explain why the author wrote Mary Poppins. It's takes until the very end to fully understand things but when you see all the pieces finally laid out for you, it's a tremendous AH HAH!

My wife and I loved it. Emma played was such a compelling part and had us laughing and crying the entire movie. And of course Tom was fantastic as well, humorous and classy as always.
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