Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Disney Saving Mr. Banks...The Blu-Ray Review

by Al Kessel

By now, most of you probably know our thoughts on the Disney motion picture, Saving Mr. Banks. We LOVED it. We treated ourselves to an outing to see it at the theatre, and wrote a short review then and expressed our views. But recently, we were surprised to receive a review copy of the Blu-Ray/Digital HD version of this wonderful film, and our thoughts did change a bit. Now we TOTALLY love Saving Mr. Banks! 
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney

Ok, before you go saying "Uh-oh, they drank the Disney Kool-Aid", let me explain a few things to you. I love Disneyland. I do. I'm not ashamed to admit that, and say it proudly! And I love the Walt Disney, because of what he did for the world. No matter what a person may think of the Disney company, or of Walt himself, you have to admit that he IS responsible for so many wonderful things in our world. He reinvented entertainment, and, through his films and theme parks, reintroduced so many people to happiness and their inner-child. Saving Mr. Banks is the story of one particular project that he fought long and hard to bring to the world, called Mary Poppins. 
Walt, The Sherman Brothers and Don DaGrati

I'm not going to get into all the pros/cons of this film, but suffice it to say that a LOT of people vehemently dislike Saving Mr. Banks and accuse it of so many negative things, as well as being totally historically incorrect. Well, I wasn't there. I don't know exactly what went down during the period this film depicts. Disney may have taken some liberties with certain aspects, but you know what? No where did they claim this was a documentary. Right? Unlike many docudramas like Lincoln for example, who without any doubt at all took HUGE artistic liberties. But I don't recall anyone crying foul on that! Anyway, I digress...
Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers

Saving Mr. Banks brings to live the untold story about the origins of one of the most treasured Disney classics of all time - Mary Poppins. Millions love and adore Mary Poppins, but few knew the almost impossible task it was to bring this film to the big screen. It took Walt twenty years to convince author P.L. Travers to allow him the rights to her beloved Mary Poppins (NEVER just Mary!), and Saving Mr. Banks shows us how Walt was able to fulfill a twenty year old promise to his daughters. Through flashbacks, we learn a great deal about P.L. and her childhood, her relationship with her adoring father, and how she found inspiration for her most treasured, and popular, character. 
Walt introduces P.L. to Disneyland

Strolling Down Main Street, U.S.A.

P.L. on Jingles...Joyce's Favorite as well!

Tom Hanks brings an incredible believability to his portrayal of Walt Disney. Although Tom looks nothing like Walt, through his vocal inflections and body language, you actually find yourself believing he IS Walt. Although until this film I was unfamiliar with P.L. Travers as a person, I have since watched video and heard the real Travers on audio, and I must say, in my opinion, Emma Thompson did a WONDERFUL job portraying the uncompromising and stubborn author of Mary Poppins. Featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Colin Farrell as Travers Goff, Paul Giamatti as Ralph (P.L.'s driver), Jason Schwartzman as Richard M. Sherman, B.J. Novak (from T.V.'s The Office) as Robert Sherman, Bradley Whitford as Don DaGradi and many more, Saving Mr. Banks is without a doubt an incredible, heartwarming and uplifting movie true to the Disney name. 
Colin Farrell as Travers Goff

Just a side note here: Paul Giamatti's character Ralph is a completely fictitious invention of Disney. Although many may say this is just another example of Disney altering facts to their favor, I see it in a different way. In order for the storytellers to portray P.L. Travers backstory, it was necessary to introduce a 'vehicle' of sorts. I'm certain 'Ralph' is an amalgam of many characters, but it was just simpler to portray them as one person. I personally feel his character worked very well!
Paul Giamotti as 'Ralph'

Saving Mr. Banks is now available on Blu-Ray, Digital Copy, DVD now and includes the following:

  • The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins to Present (Blu-Ray & Digital HD) Join Director John Lee Hancock on a tour of the Disney Studios lot, reflect on studio life during the making of Mary Poppins, and discover how Walt’s creative spirit still flourishes today.
  • Let's Go Fly A Kite: (Blu-Ray & Digital HD) - Cast and crew sing break out in a rousing, heartfelt tribute to Composer Richard Sherman on the last day of filming.
  • Deleted Scenes:
    • Stargaze (Blu-Ray & Digital HD) - A picture on Walt's desk leads to a flashback of Pamela's childhood
    • Nanny Song (Blu-ray, DVD, & Digital HD) – The Sherman Brothers perform a song for Pamela that she is less than thrilled with.
    • Pam Leaves (Blu-Ray & Digital HD) - After yet another disagreement with Walt, Pamela leaves his office and heads for the airport
All of the bonus material is terrific. The Walt Disney Studios special, however, is our favorite. This exclusive and wonderful behind the camera look at the Walt Disney Studios is, in my opinion, well worth the purchase of Saving Mr. Banks. 
The 'Real' Mary Poppins?

At just over two hours, Saving Mr. Banks is certainly a great family movie that's not too long, not too short, but "practically perfect"! A MUST HAVE for anyone who loves Mary Poppins, Walt Disney, or Disneyland (when Walt takes P.L. to Disneyland....well, I was just in heaven!). But of course, that's just OUR opinion! - Al 

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