Saving Mr. Banks
A movie about a musical made in the 1960s based on a book written in the 1930s about a flying nanny who sings nonsense songs and flies with an umbrella. Sign me up. It’s like Hollywood had me specifically in mind when they headed to pre-production. Having never seen Mary Poppins, yet being subjected to the neverending use of "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" as what some dopey kid exclaims as the hardest word in the "english" language to spell (this might be the movie’s enduring legacy), I’m having a hard time coming up with the demographic for this film. Old people who remember the original movie? Young people? Middle people? Who? Granted the cast and Disney name brand will carry the day, but the film does strike me as a bit odd.

Saving Mr. Banks details (dramatizes) the negotiation between Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) and Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers over the rights to Mary Poppins. And regardless of the demographic this thing looks headed directly to awards season without much delay. Hanks playing Walt Disney on its own seems like a recipe for an Oscar nomination (in a super strong year for Best Actor) and the rest of John Lee Hancock’s film, from the cast, to the source material (umm, it’s for Hollywood, about Hollywood) to the Disney brand name all seem like check boxes on the way to Academy Award night. That and most of the Academy voters probably had drinks with Walt Disney himself, so everything is falling into place.

Hancock’s heart-warming resume (The Blind Side-66%, The Rookie-84%) points to a director who can take the truth and get us all warm and fuzzy with it. Perfect for what’s happening here, giving us the prickly relationship between Disney and Travers and turning it all feel good. Maybe it’s just made for the ever-positive Christmas season crowd. Critics sure have enjoyed it as the Tomatometer sits at 91% through more than thirty reviews. It’s got all the hallmarks of a critical winner, but don’t be surprised if it underperforms at the box office. The Rotten Watch for Saving Mr. Banks is 85%

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