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'Saving Mr. Banks' is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

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By Becca Owsley

“Saving Mr. Banks”
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some unsettling images
Release date: Dec. 20
Runtime: 125 minutes
Rating: Excellence in film

Sometimes you come across a film that is so beautiful you can’t help but love it. This is the case for “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Theatergoers’ expectations are high for this film because one of the main characters is one of the most loved icons in movie history, Walt Disney. One wrong move in casting and the movie could fail if audiences don’t see the Disney they expect.

But that problem was solved with the casting of Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”) who showed he had respect for Disney by his performance. He skillfully illustrates Disney’s struggle to keep his usual charm while dealing with a very difficult author.

The story, set in 1961, follows Disney’s attempt to acquire the film rights to “Marry Poppins,” featured in a book series by P.L. Travers.

Travers is less than thrilled about Disney turning her beloved tale into a movie. Her proper and dry British ways are in contrast to Disney as he tries to convince her the story is safe in his hands.

But Travers has reason to hesitate. The story and characters in her book are personal to her and she has a hard time with the concept of turning them over to someone else, fearing Disney won’t see her vision for the characters.

Travers characters were based on her own difficult childhood, making them even more important to her. Like her story, art often is an expression of life experiences. And handing those characters over to someone new to scrutinize or change is a heart wrenching process.

Emma Thompson (“Beautiful Creatures”) plays well Travers’ emotional struggle in allowing Disney to put Mary Poppins on screen. Her portrayal of the contrast between Travers’ strict attitude, imaginative story telling and struggle with the past is superb. She brings great strength and humor to the role.

But the great acting doesn’t stop at the two main actors. The supporting cast is wonderful and Paul Giamatti’s (“12 Years a Slave”) portrayal of the chauffeur who befriends Travers is sweet and endearing.

Colin Farrell (“Total Recall”) plays Travers’ father in flashbacks to her difficult childhood. This role shows Farrell’s talent that was heralded earlier in his career. Bradley Whitford (“The Cabin in the Woods”), B.J. Novak (“The Office”) and Jason Schwartzman (“Moonrise Kingdom”) play Disney’s creative team struggling to work with the difficult Travers and provide many comic moments in the film.

“Saving Mr. Banks” will delight any “Mary Poppins” fan with a little background on the creation of the film and the wonderful music speckled throughout the film.

After seeing where Poppins came from in Travers’ family history, the classic film will have a whole new meaning.

In the words of one theatergoer at a screening last week, “I’ll never look at ‘Mary Poppins’ the same again.”

The storytelling is warm, funny and will bring tears to your eyes.

In short, I love “Mary Poppins” and I love the film that tells us how she came to be, “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com. For movie reviews visit her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861.

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