Another Monday tea time, another free film preview from Virgin Media. This time it was Saving Mr Banks, a Disney flick that chronicles the fandango between Walt Disney and PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. The story goes that the snooty Ms Travers refused to entertain the Disneyfication of her book for nearly twenty years until flat-lining sales and looming penury dragged her kicking and screaming to the studio lot. When she got to La La land, she loathed the entire Disney concept – the jolly sing-a-long tunes, Dick Van Dyke as the prancing sweep with the dodgy mockney accent (she got that one right) and dancing cartoon penguins. In fact, she hated animation of any kind. In the end she caved in to the corporate pressure and the rest, as they say, is history. No doubt the bucket-full of cash helped the medicine go down. If anyone offered me a wad of used fivers for the rights to my book I’d bite their hand off and let them do whatever they liked with it – turn it straight, drop it into Benidorm, make me a lap dancing serial killer, whatever. I have no scruples.
The smart and witty film captures the Technicolor Sixties extremely well and the attention to period detail is superb. Emma Thompson as the haughty author and Tom Hanks as Walt are excellent. Ms Thompson does no-nonsense nanny with imperious style and Mr Hanks shines as the folksy charmer with a ruthless streak. Throughout the film there are flashbacks to the author’s childhood Down Under (she was, in fact Australian, not British) and another performance of note came from Colin Farrell as the author’s dipsomaniac father. I’ve always liked the look of Colin (particularly after seeing his saucy sex tape on the internet) but I never thought he could actually act. Actually, he can. And why is the film called ‘Saving Mr Banks’? Well, it seems that Mary Poppins is really all about saving the father (Mr Banks in the story), not his children and the book was inspired by the real father that the author could not save. Who knew? Certainly not me when I was eight and singing along to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
The film went on general release (here in the UK) yesterday. I feel an Oscar coming on.