Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

December 17, 2013

CALLERI: Hustlers compete with Disney at theaters


Niagara Gazette — Goff took the name Pamela Lyndon Travers, wrote “Mary Poppins,” and lived the life of a lady of leisure in England. For twenty years, Disney wanted to make a movie from the novel, but the snobbish Travers always said no. She hated everything Disney stood for, especially cartoon animals.

Travers finally visited the Disney Studios just to sniff about. In truth, she needed money. Although there was no signed contract, she drove Disney, the screenwriter, and the songwriters of “Mary Poppins” up-the-wall.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is a charming, albeit inventive look, at the time Travers spent at Disney’s Burbank studios. In reality, Disney himself fled to Palm Springs.

Emma Thompson is outstanding as the habitually complaining Travers. Tom Hanks is good as Disney. As a story about how movies are made, the film is very entertaining. How much is to be believed is anyone’s guess. Director John Lee Hancock and his screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith rely too much on pseudo-psychology in order to generate some poignancy amidst the laughter. Overall, “Saving Mr. Banks” is a pleasant diversion.

Michael Calleri reviews films for Night and Day. Contact him at

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