Last Friday Disney released Saving Mr. Banks, a film based on the true story of the author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers’ life and the development of the film in the 1960’s. I must admit that although I am a huge fan of Mary Poppins and have seen the film multiple times, I have never bothered to look further into its history. I had no idea it was a book series – I know, I know, allowing movies to dominate my pop culture lexicon over literature – bad. Anyhow, I highly recommend you see this film for three reasons:
- Tom Hanks as Walt Disney: is this not the perfect role for Mr. Hanks? I mean come on, he just has this friendly charisma about him that lends itself to being one of the most revered children’s entertainers – Walt Disney. Maybe I’m biased because my mother has had a crush on him since the early 80’s and I’ve seen almost all his movies, but I think Tom is brilliant in this role. An icon playing an icon.
- Mary Poppins: who doesn’t love this film and/or book? Who doesn’t have a personal memory attached to it? I know mine involves a Disney songbook my family owns that was printed in the 70’s, I used to sit down and sing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” over and over again. Not to mention, A “Spoonful of Sugar” and “Chim Chim Cheree.” My mom’s family heritage is English so this film (the themes, accents, humor) has always held a special place in my heart, which only motivated me more to see Saving Mr. Banks.
- Self-reflexivity: I know this is a heady word for a succinct blog posting about a family movie, but Disney rarely (if ever) turns the camera around on itself. Although I am aware this film explores a relatively tame and idealized version of events, as this is a movie for kids, but to watch how Disney himself was able to make such an iconic film almost seems like a privilege.
If you have a child, I really hope you consider watching Mary Poppins sometime this week (if they don’t already know it) then taking them to see Saving Mr. Banks – what a formative experience it could be – especially if you throw in the books to boot. I hope you all check out this film over the holidays and let us know what you think!