May 28, 2015

Saving Mister Banks

Amazon Instant Video Presents: Saving Mister Banks
An niche curiosity, I can only recommend Saving Mr. Banks to Disney fans in general and lovers of Mary Poppins in particular.
London 1962: P.L. Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins book series, is forced to finally unpack and come to terms with her long repressed childhood trauma (which serves as the inspiration for the Banks family of her books) when she consults with Walt Disney's creative team on the 1964 film adaptation.
Travers' travails in sunny Anaheim are intercut with the sad tale of her suicidal mother and alcoholic father. You don't need to be a psych major to notice the strong Electra complex in the relationship between the pre-adolescent daughter and the free spirited drunk dad who encourages and inspires her imagination.
The adaptation process is extremely rocky: the creative team is literally adapting her book, but for Mrs. Travers, they're adapting her own childhood.
It's not clear why Travers is so reluctant to grant Disney any creative license with her book- she seems to be both fully aware of the parallels between her childhood and the fictional book, and at the same time, struggling to make the connections between her life and her work. Emma Thompson does her best with a character that barely moves from Point A to Point B until the very end of the movie, and Tom Hanks is strong as a nice but also powerful and demanding leader.
The intercutting between Australia 1904 and Anaheim 1962 is developed with care at first, but eventually the stories switch back and forth without much design.

Director John Lee Hancock has made a careful and conservative movie without much inspiration or creativity. As the movie lies at the heart of the Disney mystique, I am sure that suits his Mouse House producers just fine. My Stub Hubby Grade: C-plus.