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    « Grand giggles and GRAND Social No. 83 link party for grandparents | Main | Friday fun: 5 festive favorites »

    Saturday movie review: 'Saving Mr. Banks' — plus a film freebie for readers

    Saving Mr. Banks posterAs is the case with, well, pretty much everyone around the world, MARY POPPINS has long been a favorite Disney film of mine. I loved it as a child, shared it with my now-adult daughters, and it's the first live-action Disney movie I shared with my eldest grandson — who was immediately enchanted by the film though not quite three years old at the time. 

    Because of my affection for MARY POPPINS, I looked forward to SAVING MR. BANKS from the moment I'd heard about the film. I had the good fortune of attending an advance screening of the movie last month courtesy Disney Pictures, and my heart has sang its praises ever since. Now that the movie opens soon in theaters — in limited release today, wide release December 20 — I can now put my praises in writing, as well.

    Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks 

    SAVING MR. BANKS, directed by John Lee Hancock, stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers. In the following trailer provided by Disney Pictures, the stars tell you a bit more about the film than was shared in the original trailer, which you've likely seen on television:

    Though I'd anxiously awaited the movie, I originally was not too thrilled by the prospect of Walt Disney — who had never before been portrayed on film — being played by Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks is a fabulous actor, I admit, but I've always been disappointed to find it impossible to see the characters he plays, as I only see Tom Hanks the Movie Star playing whomever he's portraying. Because of that, Tom Hanks being the star of a movie has long made me more likely to avoid it than embrace it.

    That changed with SAVING MR. BANKS. I wouldn't say Tom Hanks became Walt Disney for me. He did, though, become someone I was delighted to watch, a mesmerizing actor I'll no longer shy away from.

    More on Tom Hanks becoming Walt Disney, courtesy Disney Pictures:

    Emma Thompson as P.L. TraversWhat I loved most about the film: Hands down, it was Emma Thompson. She was incredible. She did become P.L. Travers. She frustrated me, made me laugh, made me weep. Her performance was the very best I've seen in a very long time. It's no surprise at all that she's garnered rave reviews as well as Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes best actress nominations.

    And, of course, there's the music. What is a Disney film without music? The background on the music of MARY POPPINS changed many of my ideas on my beloved favorites, lent a more meloncholic feel once the story of them was revealed in SAVING MR. BANKS. Disney has provided the following special behind-the-scenes look at the music of SAVING MR. BANKS, which is, really, the music of MARY POPPINS.

    SAVING MR. BANKS is, without a doubt, one of my favorite films of 2013. As Jim, who attended the screening with me, said afterward, we must watch MARY POPPINS again, now that we know the background of the making. I've no doubt we'll see it in an entirely fresh way. I can't wait.

    SAVING MR. BANKS (rated PG13) also stars Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and Colin Farrel, and opens in select theaters today and nationwide December 20. Find out more on the SAVING MR. BANKS website and by following on Twitter and Facebook.


    Now available for free download, courtesy Walt Disney Studios, is SAVING MR. BANKS: The Official Multi-touch Book, based on Disney’s film SAVING MR. BANKS. Exploring the previously untold story of how Walt Disney worked his magic on author P.L. Travers to secure the rights to her book, “Mary Poppins,” the multi-media interactive book includes:

    • a foreword by Academy Award-winning composer Richard Sherman
    • never-before-seen correspondence between Walt Disney and P.L. Travers
    • rare storyboards and scripts from the Disney archives
    • an interactive timeline of historic Walt Disney Studios milestones
    • original recordings of the Sherman Brothers, performing their MARY POPPINS hit songs
    • facts and profiles on the key characters in SAVING MR. BANKS


    The SAVING MR. BANKS: The Official Multi-touch Book — created by Apple’s digital book creation app, iBooks Author. is available for free, exclusively on iBooks at

    Disney Pictures logo

    Disclosure: I attended a free advance screening of this film, with no obligation. Opinions are my own.

    Today's question:

    What is the first live-action Disney film you recall seeing?

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    Reader Comments (5)

    I, too, love Tom Hanks, and have no problem suspending disbelief when I see him in a film; to me, he does become the character he's portraying.
    This movie, Saving Mr. Banks, has now become a "Must See" because YOU liked it so well!

    As a child I saw "So Dear To My Heart" and have wanted to see it again all my life since. I recently found that one can get it on Amazon and will be ordering it for myself as a present to me.But, I won't order the "Classic Collectors" version because, whatever that means, some sellers want over $300.00 for THAT!

    December 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    Richard is just adamant that Tom Hanks does a terrible job of portraying Walt Disney -- he bases this on the trailers. It is not the Walt that he remembers from the openings of "The Wonderful World of Disney". I can't wait to see it!

    December 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    I want to go see this movie when my kids are all home for the holidays. Thanks for your review, which just affirms my wish to see "Saving Mr. Banks."

    December 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristi

    If anything, I'm more eager to see this movie after reading your review. Thanks for sharing the videos. I've been seeing Emma Thompson on tv lately promoting the film. Never realized how funny and vivacious she is.

    December 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbelinda

    OH....... I CAN'T WAIT!

    December 15, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterchristine
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