January 07, 2014
Family Film Blogging: Saving Mr. Banks
Posted by Christine Hurt

Another movie that we took our 12 year-old to was Saving Mr. Banks.  Or, I should say he took us because he chose the movie.  This movie, about the adaptation of P.L. Travers' book into the screenplay for the movie Mary Poppins, is rated PG-13, mostly for some fairly serious themes relating to Travers' hardscrabble childhood in rural Australia.  But it's not in the same category as most other action-adventure PG-13 movies these days, such as The Hunger Games, etc.  Our guy was not fazed, but your mileage may vary.

That being said, it's not a movie aimed at kids.  The Disney moments are sprinkled here and there, but the real story is a fairly mature one --the real, heartbreaking story that lurks behind the book Mary Poppins, which is itself a step removed from the "spoonful of sugar" movie that Disney made.  The movie has many light moments, created by the humorous bristliness of Travers faced with the singing, dancing Disney machine.  As Walt and his crew try to win her over, her Britishness (which is actually Australian) provides for great dialogue and banter.  But the modern-day tug-of-war over the script is interspersed with scenes from Travers' youth, which includes a loving but troubled alcoholic father, a despairing mother, and an efficient, no-nonsense aunt who arrives too late to turn their fortunes around. 

The movie is very entertaining, particularly the 1960s scenes with Tom Hanks as Walt and Emma Thompson as Travers.  But in the end, you still don't know that much about Travers, particularly how quickly she hardened into such a bitter person that in her middle age, none of her family, including her adopted son, seemed to have anything to do with her.

One thing the movie did make us want to do was watch Mary Poppins again! 

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