Saving Mr. Banks. Pepper and Honey
Saving Mr. Banks
Stars: Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, B. J. Novak  and Colin Farrell
Director: John Lee Hancock
Scriptwriters: Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith
Walt Disney Studios
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 126 Minutes
Mary Poppins starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, is a beloved movie about the nanny who comes to a home and is a delight to the children and family with her whimsical ways. It took over twenty years for the adaptation of the Poppins novel to come to the screen. Author P. L Travers (played by Emma Thompson) just wouldn't/couldn't let go of the rights to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks.) Thus is the basis for the screenplay of  Saving Mr. Banks. The relationship between the two people was something akin to pepper and honey. He being the honey.
Walt Disney had promised to make a movie of Mary Poppins for his daughters when they were children. Years later, the girls are grown and still no movie.  At the beginning of the film, we go back and forth between California (Disney) and Great Britain (Travers) for the screen rights. She won't have any part of the motion picture industry. However, with no new books out, no royalties coming in and her British home about to be lost, Travers decides to negotiate again with Disney. Eventually, she visits Hollywood and is aghast at the city (too hot and smells like chlorine), the food (tasteless) and no hot tea readily available for her. Disney provides her with the ultimate in accommodations including a driver (charming Paul Giamatti) who eventually becomes her friend, as he is the only one sympathetic to her. No matter what changes she makes in the script, and they go word by word, with all their meetings tape recorded, Travers is a fortress. No music….Julie Andrews is OK (no singing)…and no Dick Van Dyke (who is he?) Step by step, Disney is getting discouraged and then decides to try a new tact, to find out just why Travers wrote the Mary Poppins books. The reasons start spilling out bit by bit and suddenly, the audience understands, too.
Saving Mr. Banks starts out slowly and it isn't until halfway through that it gains momentum, the supporting cast drifts to the side and Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson act with each other. He is trying everything to get Mary Poppins made as a movie and when he comes upon an idea and we see what effect it begins to have, Emma Thompson’s acting skills come through, in particular. In the meantime, Paul Giamatti is her driver and friend and only he seems to be able to cut through the sarcasm and wit to get to her. The music duo of Jason Schwartzman and B. J. Novak, and Bradley Whitford as the scriptwriter, provide comic relief with revisions, lyrics and music for the proposed film.
Saving Mr. Banks will give the audience an eyeful about what goes on behind the scenes. No wonder it takes years to get a book to the screen. Books are family to an author and they won't part with a word and casting? That is an issue unto itself. And who would have thought the late Peter O’Toole, a virtual unknown when cast as Lawrence of Arabia would make a classic film. Dick Van Dyke and the animated penguins of Mary Poppins took their stand and won against a few odds.
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Copyright 2013 Marie Asner