Saving Mr. Banks
Going into Saving Mr. Banks, I was wary of the Disney machine taking over, making this a predictable schmaltz-fest. And while there certainly was some of that, the better parts of the story rose above it.
In Saving Mr. Banks we see the story of P.V. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins, and the struggle for Walt Disney to get the rights to her books.There are a lot of cliche aspects to this story you can expect from Disney: a slow-building yet charming friendship built with her driver, some cheesy flashbacks to her childhood, a predictable alcoholism plot trope, etc. But the core of the story is Travers coming to grips with her history and why she wrote the books in the first place, which is actually quite strong and comes across well (as well as eventually making the title make sense).
The movie’s strong point by far is the character of Travers herself. She is a curmudgeonly woman who dislikes everything and is highly resistant the the idea of turning her book into a Disney film. Its a lot of fun seeing this character awkwardly navigate these social situations she has been thrown into. Of course with Disney, she is going to have to start opening up eventually, and as predicted she does. But they lay the groundwork well so that even though these relationships become pretty cliche (especially the Paul Giamatti character) I didn’t mind so much.
Its fun to see Disney studios portrayed in its heyday. Tom Hanks played Disney himself, and well, he was still Tom Hanks. But it was neat to see how the movies were planned out and to see the early version of Disneyland. I wasn’t as big of a fan of the flashbacks in Australia, but they were integral to the story so I at least appreciated them. Overall I have to say I liked Saving Mr. Banks more than I expected to.