SYNOPSIS: Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson bring to life the untold true story about the origins of one of the most treasured Disney classics of all time. John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) directs this acclaimed film that reveals the surprising backstory behind the making of Mary Poppins. Determined to fulfill a promise to his daughters, Walt Disney (Hanks) tries for 20 years to obtain the rights to author P. L. Travers’ (Thompson) beloved book. Armed with his iconic creative vision, Walt pulls out all the stops, but the uncompromising Travers won’t budge. Only when he reaches into his own complicated childhood does Walt discover the truth about the ghosts that haunt Travers, and together, they set “Mary Poppins” free.


This is not a story of how Walt Disney broke the bank to fund his Disneyland project nor is it a tale of how Disney started his animation craft. Instead this is a whimsical tale of how Disney courts the rights from author P.L. Travers to turn Mary Poppins into a feature film.  

The screenplay by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith did a fine job detailing why Travers is such a complex character as the story is interspersed with flashbacks to her childhood days in Australia and how the death of his alcoholic father (Colin Farrell in a small role) have affected her since. Though creative license has been taken, majority of the story focus on the unseen side of Travers hence Hank’s Disney only ends up playing second fiddle.

The role of Travers can be considered as Emma Thompson’s best performance in years. The Love Actually star practically nailed down the part of a difficult, no-nonsense and unpredictable person to a tee. Aside from his limited screen time, Tom Hanks nevertheless is pitch perfect as Walt Disney, from his mannerisms right down to his moustache. The rest of the supporting players include Paul Giamatti as Travers’ chauffeur and also Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak as the famous songwriters, the Sherman Brothers. 

Director John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side) did a tremendous job balancing the emotions and drama and he never forgets to bring in the laughs especially during Travers’ creative process with the Sherman brothers in creating the songs for the movie. The last act with Disney and Travers in her London home might be a little cringing and as always salvage by the strong performances of the leads.

From the airport, Disney’s office to a visit to Disneyland, the production design team in many ways successfully replicates the look from that era. It’s good to know some props were actually provided from the vaults of Disney archive. Wall-E composer Thomas Newman’s effective score enhance the magical viewing experience and also, not forgetting the absolutely amazing looking photography by John Schwartzman (half-brother of Jason).

Although Saving Mr Banks is a respectful piece of work depicting Disney’s difficulties in dealing with the Mary Poppins author, one can’t help walking away feeling unsatisfied. We are still hoping one day, there will one drama that touches solely on Disney or even the talented Sherman brothers.    


Only a single Deleted Scene named Nanny Song is included. 


Visually, details and lighting are excellent. Dialogue is clear while the numerous song numbers come across as lively and soothing. 



Review by Linus Tee



Genre: Drama
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Annie Rose Buckley, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths, Kathy Baker
Director: John Lee Hancock
Rating: PG
Year Made: 2013




Languages: English/Brazilian Portuguese
Subtitles: English/Bahasa Indonesia/Bahasa Malaysia/Brazilian Portuguese/
Cantonese/Korean/Thai/Traditional Chinese
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 2 hrs 5 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: InnoForm Media