Movie Review by Jack Silbert
If you have a well-worn Mary Poppins DVD at home, and chapter-book-reading kids, Saving Mr. Banks may be the perfect movie for your family. Familiarity with the material and a certain maturity level will certainly come in handy. If that’s not quite the case with your children, you may want to hire a sitter—ideally one with a flying umbrella—and check it out yourselves.
The film’s PG-13 rating really fits, as it won’t be of interest to the littlest kids, but also might not be compelling for adults seeking a very sophisticated time at the movies. In classic Disney fashion (and it actually sometimes feels as if this was made in an earlier, more innocent era), Saving Mr. Banks features clear, straightforward storytelling and crisp, clean visuals. That’s all terrific for this film’s middle-grade sweet spot.
|Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers|
Thankfully for kids not so interested in the machinations of obtaining movie rights, there are frequent flashbacks to Travers’s youth in Australia, and her poignant relationship with her dad. He is played with gusto by Colin Farrell, whose waist seems to have grown three sizes as well.
|Tom Hanks as Walt Disney|
Very strong casting keeps this film from getting too saccharine or simplistic. It says a lot that Paul Giamatti is playing a limo driver. Also adding a lot of zest is Jason Schwartzman as one half of the Poppins Sherman brothers songwriting team, with The Office’s B.J. Novak. The pair also provides a convenient way to get a lot of fun music into the movie, as we witness familiar songs being written and reworked.
|B.J. Novak (left) and Jason Schwartzman|
as the Sherman brothers