Saving Mr Banks (2013)

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Previously on Unshaved Mouse: After learning that he’d been secretly manipulated into destroying the career of Don Bluth, Mouse swore revenge against his former mentor Walt Disney, promising to review “The Worst Disney Movie”. However, it seemed that the two had finally buried the hatchet after Mouse reviewed Big Hero 6 in an attempt to boost his flagging page views just ‘cos. But then, Walt was kidnapped by Mouse’s entire rogue’s gallery who it turned out had been led by none other than…Mouse.
Now read on.
“You’re kidding. Saving Mr Banks? That’s your pick for worst Disney movie?”

“You’re kidding. Saving Mr Banks? That’s your pick for worst Disney movie?”

“Yup.”

“Yup.”

“Not one of the straight to video sequels? Not the High School Musical movies?”

“Not one of the straight to video sequels? Not the High School Musical movies?”

“Nope.”

“Nope.”

“Pff. Lemmings. Who cares? Buncha racists.”

“Pff. Lemmings. Who cares? Buncha racists.”

"FUCK YOU, MAZERUNNER!"

“FUCK YOU, MAZERUNNER!”

“Saving Mr Banks was a critical darling! It grossed over a hundred million dollars! How can it possibly be the worst Disney movie?”

Saving Mr Banks was a critical darling! It grossed over a hundred million dollars! How can it possibly be the worst Disney movie?”

"Well, "worst" can have very different meanings."

“Well, “worst” can have very different meanings.”

Pamela Lyndon Travers, born Helen Lyndon Goff was a remarkable woman who led a remarkable life. At various times a Shakespearean actor, a scholar of Native American cultures, a propagandist during the second world war, a member of the literati who rubbed shoulders with the likes of AE and WB Yeats and the creator of Mary Poppins, one of the most popular children’s characters in English language literature. She was also, by most accounts, a bit of a pill. In fact, it’s been said that she died “loving no one, and loved by no one.” Who said that? Her own grandchildren. Yikes.
A question I got asked a lot after my review of Mary Poppins was whether I had read any of the original books and the answer was “No.” I have since had a chance to rectify that, or at least, I’ve managed to read the first book, the one that the 1964 film was based on. In my opinion it’s a charmingly written, often very witty book that’s let down by a somewhat ramshackle episodic structure and the fact that the main character is WORSE THAN HITLER.
Sorry, I know a lot of people love these books and prefer the literary version of Mary Poppins but oh my God, no. No, no, no, no, no, She is awful. Vain, mean, borderline emotionally abusive, contemptuous of everything and everyone, snobbish, nakedly hostile to anyone who is not on their knees kissing her very shoes and she sniffs. Constantly. “Mary Poppins sniffed…” it was like a goddamn tic. By the end of the book I was like…
Sniff again
And today’s movie, Saving Mr Banks, is about how that book  and its fairly unlikable author and its deeply unpleasant main character were somehow corralled into making one of my favourite movies by one of my favourite film-makers. You could not engineer a safer audience for this movie than me. So how badly do you think they had to fuck it up for me to hate this movie, to hate the Disney corporation that made it and even for a little of that hate to wipe off on my memories of the original film? How hard do you have to try to fail that badly?
Let’s take a look.
So the movie begins with Pamela Travers (Emma Thompson) in her house in London being strong-armed by her agent into going to Los Angeles, which she really doesn’t want to do, like any sane person. Her agent tries patiently to explain to her that no one is buying her books about the sociopathic narcissist who always gets her way and that unless she sells the rights to Mary Poppins to Walt Disney she will have no more money. In fact, Travers has already had to fire her maid (heavens! such grinding poverty!). But Pamela is resolute, saying that Disney will have Mary Poppins “cavorting and twinkling and dancing towards her happy ending.” This is ironic, since the book’s ending and the movie’s are pretty much exactly the same, with Mary Poppins flying off and leaving the Banks family behind. The only difference is, in the movie it’s clear that she actually cares for them, meaning that if anything her ending is even sadder in the movie. The agent finally convinces her to go, and, if she doesn’t like how the movie is turning out, to refuse the rights. We then flash back to Australia at the turn of the century where a young girl named Helen Goff is playing on the grass and her father Travers (Colin Farrell) wanders by asking if she’s seen his daughter.
Is he playing or is he drunk? Trick question.

Is he playing or is he drunk? Trick question.

So to save everyone a lot of time: The little girl is actually Pamela and she renamed herself as PL Travers in memory of her loving father who died from alcoholism and he was the inspiration for Mr Banks and Rosebud was actually her sled, a symbol of her lost youth and innocence. Sigh. Okay, so off the bat I should tell you that I really don’t like biopics as a general rule. I find the genre to be fundamentally dishonest, the notion that you can take the vast, messy, incoherence of a human being’s life and  tidy it up into an hour and change and present it as a truthful representation of that person…no. For me, the biopics that work are those that confine themselves to a specific incident in the subject’s life and don’t go beyond that. Lincoln, for example, works as a movie because it doesn’t try to explain Lincoln or take him apart and psychoanalyse him. It just shows, with reasonable accuracy, the events leading up to the passing of the thirteenth amendment and trusts that the story is strong enough on it’s own terms. How much worse would that movie have been if we’d opened with a ten year old Abe seeing a slave being abused, and then forming a fist and solemnly declaring “Never again.”?    Real people aren’t fictional characters and while, sure, there can be big dramatic events in our lives that shape our worldview and our outlook, more often it’s a lot more complicated than that. This movie takes a real woman’s life and renders it with all the complexity of a hacky mid-brow piece of Oscar bait because, guess what, it’s a hacky mid-brow piece of Oscar bait.

At Los Angeles airport Pamela is met by a driver from the Walt Disney company named Ralph (Paul Giamatti) who does his best to melt her stern patrician façade with good old-fashioned American pluck. This isn’t easy, as the first thing Travers does upon arriving in Los Angeles is to complain about the smell.
"Smells like artistic compromise and shame."

“Smells like artistic compromise and shame.”

On the way to the studio Ralph casually says that the sun came out for Travers’ arrival and the script has her react less like a humorless grouch and more like Data in the early seasons of The Next Generation when he was taking everything super literally. After informing Ralph that the idea of the sun coming out just for her is quite ridiculous she says that she prefers the rain. Ralph asks why and she says because the rain brings life and Ralph counters that, duh, so does the sun and oh for fucks sake let’s just get this over with.
"I like the rain!"

“I like the rain!”

"I like the sun!"

“I like the sun!”

"Rain!"

“Rain!”

"Sun!"

“Sun!”

"Rain!"

“Rain!”

"Sun!"

“Sun!”

“Let’s call the whole thing off!”

“Let’s call the whole thing off!”

Pamela arrives at her hotel only to discover that Walt has filled her room with hundreds of stuffed Disney characters. Pamela is aghast and for once I don’t blame her. Who does that?! When you’re on a date with someone and you go back to their place and it’s full of stuffed animals, that’s usually a warning sign? How is this an effective way to conduct business?
“Those weren't toys. They were voodoo fetishes to dampen her powers before our climactic struggle.”

“Those weren’t toys. They were voodoo fetishes to dampen her powers before our climactic struggle.”

She begins putting the toys away, picking up a stuffed Winnie the Pooh and muttering “poor A.A. Milne. Ghastly business.” This bugs me far more than it really should. Firstly; it’s an anachronism. The movie is set in 1961, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree wasn’t released until 1966 so unless this bear has a TARDIS he shouldn’t be here. Whatever. It’s just a movie, artistic licence, fine. No, the problem is they missed a huge opportunity here. PL Travers, in real life, idolised JM Barrie, who also had a book that received the Disney treatment. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a big part of Travers’ reluctance to work with Disney stemmed from what they did to Peter Pan (if you’ve read my review of that movie you’ll know that it’s a rare point where I might have agreed with her). If this scene had her holding a Tinkerbell toy, a prickly, morally ambiguous female character who was then transformed into the smiling, twinkly, secondary mascot of the Disney company…you can see how that would have worked better, yes? She also throws the pears in the fruit basket into the swimming pool because they remind her of the time her father died when she was out getting pears.

“No, no, no! She threw the pears out the window because she new they were drugged!"

“No, no, no! She threw the pears out the window because she knew they were drugged!”

"What?!"

“What?!”

“I was going to drug her and then get her to hand Poppins over to me. But somehow she knew..."

“I was going to drug her and then get her to hand Poppins over to me. But somehow she knew…”

At the studio Pamela is met by Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) who introduces himself as the scriptwriter for Mary Poppins because Bill Walsh needs to get a better agent, apparently. She’s also introduced to Rob and Richard Sherman (BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman) the songwriters for the movie. That’s a problem, because Pamela has the same attitude to “fun” and “music” that Joan Crawford had to wire hangers.

Duck face

Huh. You, know, that picture looks really familiar somehow. Oh wait, I know.

"Mahnamanah!"

“Mahnamanah!”

"Doo doo be doo bee!"

“Doo doo be doo bee!”

She demands to see Walt immediately and DaGradi says that they had planned to give her a tour of the studio but she turns them down cold.

“I had hexes and occult traps on every soundstage. HOW DID SHE KNOW?!"

“I had hexes and occult traps on every soundstage. HOW DID SHE KNOW?!”

 Pamela marches into Walt’s office to speak with the man himself, who is played here by Tom Hanks, the nicest man in Hollywood oh what rich, rich irony. Walt is thrilled to finally meet her after twenty years of trying to acquire the rights and says “I could just eat you up!”

“I did actually say that. According to Korowai shamans, if you eat someones heart you gain their intellectual property."

“I did actually say that. According to Korowai shamans, if you eat someone’s heart you gain their intellectual property.”

Anyway, Walt tells Pamela how much her books have meant to him while they have tea, which she insists on having poured milk first because apparently she was raised by wild boars. Pamela insists that the movie not be a musical and says “I won’t have her turned into one of your silly cartoons.”

Shit just got real

 Instead of tossing her out the window for that little gem, Walt instead gets all up in Pamela’s personal space and tells her that the very last thing he’d want to do would be to tarnish her story, because he loves Mary Poppins. Why? Why Walt? She’s an utterly amoral magic-user who’s contemptous of anyone she can’t use for her own ends and oh my God it’s like she was made for you.

“Sigh."

“Sigh.”

So now we get to the scenes of the first table read of Mary Poppins. Now, Emma Thompson is, of course, a wonderful actor. I mean, she’s won an Oscar and she has an English accent, what further proof do you need?

"Youve crossed the line Mouse! YOUVE CROSSED THE GOL-DURN LINE!"

“You’ve crossed the line Mouse! YOU’VE CROSSED THE GOL-DURN LINE!”

Oh relax, relax. Yes, she’s a fantastic actor. But it’s pretty much accepted that she’s fantastic in this and in my humble opinion, no. She’s fine. But she could do this in her sleep. And I’d actually say her portrayal borders on caricature if it wasn’t for the fact that the tapes of the real Pamela Travers are played over the credits and it becomes clear that, if anything, Thompson is downplaying the snooty Britishness. But it’s really in these scenes that the character of Pamela Travers is at her most one-dimensional and shrill. Pamela asks if it’s true that Dick Van Dyke is going to be playing Bert and Robert says that Dick is one of the greats and also that his talent for accents in unparalleled. Pamela sets her British condescension to the highest setting and sneers that Olivier is one of the greats. Damn. Now I want to see Laurence Olivier’s take on Bert.

"Chim. Chimanee. Chim Chimanee. Chim chim. ... ... ... Charee. Whether tis nobler in the mind..."

“Chim. Chimanee. Chim Chimanee. Chim chim.



Charee. Whether tis nobler in the mind…”

Things start unravelling pretty quickly. Pamela objects to the size and opulence of the Banks’ house, saying that they’re not aristocrats but an ordinary family. Y’know. With a cook, a maid, a nanny and a gardener. Real salt of the earth working class. This, incidentally, was a change that the Disney studio made because they thought that an American audience wouldn’t be able to understand why, if Mrs Banks doesn’t have a job of her own, would she hire someone to look after her own children? Another thing I didn’t realise until I read the book is that the movie changes the time period. They movie takes place in 1910 (the age of men!) whereas the book takes place in the late thirties when it was written. This means that when you read the book you come across things like Mary Poppins riding in buses and using electrical appliances which frankly just feels weird. DaGradia explains that they made Mrs Banks a suffragette in order to give her a reason to be out of the house, which I do admit I like. I’ve always held that Mrs Banks’ suffragism isn’t a criticism of the character by the movie but an exoneration. While Mr Banks is wasting all his time in the bank, she is out doing something important. Pamela also objects to the first name they’ve chosen for her (Cynthia) and instead says they should choose something “sexy”. She settles on Winnifred.

‘Kay.

 Later, Walt’s assistant Dolly gives him the run down on the changes that Pamela’s is insisting on, including that there be no hint of a romance between Bert and Mary. I know this is based on real life but it kinda baffles me, considering that in the book Bert and Mary go on what can only really be described as a date in the first chapter he appears. Oh, and she of course infamously demands that the colour red appear nowhere in the film.

"Red. The source of my power. HOW DID SHE KNOW?!"

“Red. The source of my power. HOW DID SHE KNOW?!”

 Disney tries to explain to her that they can’t really make a movie missing a third of the primary colours but Pamela says that she’s just feeling “very anti-red” at the moment. Walt Disney, of course, has had his “very anti-red” moments (particularly in the 1940s) so he tries to reason with her but eventually has to back down when she threatens to walk without signing over the rights.

The Shermans now start working on Spoonful of Sugar and I gotta say, these scenes I do actually really like. Schwartzman and Novak both give very naturalistic performances and moments like where they figure out that the music needs to go up on the line “medicine goes down” are pure Disney-nerd catnip. Another nice bit is that when Walt appears in the studio DaGardia says “Man is in the forest” which really was a saying among the animators whenever he came down to check their work. Honestly, the Disney side of the movie seems to be a lot better researched than the Travers side, which perhaps shows where the filmmakers’ loyalties lie. But of course mean old Pamela doesn’t like the song, saying “it’s just like something you’d play in your themed park, isn’t it?” and dismisses it as sugary nonsense.

Alright I gotta get something off my chest here. This whole notion that Mary Poppins was this great deep work of literature until mean ol’ Walt Disney came along and sucked out all the dark brooding melancholy and filled it with empty saccharine sweetness is Grade A bullshit. Do you know what Disney did to the story of Mary Poppins? He gave it a moral. He gave it a soul. He gave it a fucking point. The first book has exactly one moral: “Don’t fuck with Mary Poppins.” If you talk back, question or in any way cross her she will fuck your shit up. In the movie Mary Poppins is a moral presence. She teaches the children about the importance of seeing things from other people’s point of view, about caring for those less fortunate than you, about feeding the goddamn birds (in contrast to the literary Mary Poppins who looks on the bird woman and her “sparrers” with contempt). In the book she leaves because the wind changes and for no other reason. In the movie, she leaves because George Banks has finally learned the importance of being a loving father and she knows she isn’t needed any more. When Julie Andrews says that she doesn’t feel anything for the children she’s leaving behind, she convinces neither talking umbrellas nor we the audience. If Book Mary Poppins told me she actually cared about Jane and Michael I would laugh in her sniffy face.
Pamela asks where the gravitas in the script is and then throws it out the window saying “There. You see? No weight.” as the papers go flying through the air into the parking lot below.
Yeah. Pamela? It’s 1961. The script isn’t saved on a word processor. Someone’s going to have to type all those pages out again. You total VICIOUS MISOGYNIST SLUR REDACTED.
Disney actually gets annoyed at this and tells Pamela that her anti-whimsy jihad is a little rich coming from someone who sent a nanny with a flying umbrella to save the children. And then Pamela says “You think Mary Poppins has come to save the children? Oh dear.”
Oh dear indeed. Excuse me for a moment.
"BUUUUUUULLLLSHIIIIIIT!"

“BUUUUUUULLLLSHIIIIIIT!”

Okay, I qualify what I am about to say by repeating that I have not actually read the Mary Poppins books passed the first one. If, further on in the series, there is a big twist that invalidates what I am about to say later on in the series feel free to point it out in the comments and make me look like an ass. But I am pretty damn sure that the movie’s contention that PL Travers wrote Mr Banks as a stand in for her father to work through her daddy issues is pure bull cac. Why? Because MR BANKS IS HARDLY IN MARY POPPINS. THE DUDE HAS LIKE FIVE LINES. ANDREW THE DOG LITERALLY GETS MORE CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. HE’S A DAMN BACKGROUND CHARACTER.

But no, Pamela is so upset with memories of her father that she goes back to her hotel room and tries to sleep. She even brings a giant Mickey Mouse into bed to cuddle because feelings.

mY MASTER

Give my master that which he desires, human female, and something of you may yet survive.

The storm of daddy issues builds to a head the next day when Pamela makes the mistake of flashbacking to the time her dad gave a drunken speech on behalf of his bank while the Shermans sing “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” in the background. This leads to Travers’ speech becoming the lyrics to the song, so Colin Farrell is on a stage in turn of the century Australia yelling at a crowd about “Bonds! Chattels! Dividends! Shares!”. Is is fucking hilarious. Pamela, almost in tears, demands to know why they made Mr Banks so awful saying “I feel like I let him down again.”

Ahem. I repeat. Mr Banks is hardly in the book. If PL Travers was making a point about her father with that character, it is that he was entirely surplus to requirements. Or maybe, and I’m just throwing this out here, not everything a writer creates is their way of working through trauma from their past. Some of us just make shit up. No. Really.
Pamela goes outside and starts to…holy shit are you kidding me? She sits down on the grass and starts making a little house out of leaves and sticks like she used to do with her Dad because apparently she can’t do anything that’s not motivated by him in some way. Ralph brings her a cup of tea but she snips that it’s blasphemy to drink tea out of a paper cup. Get off your high horse, Pam. You put the milk in first, you’re already going to hell.
Ralph asks if she’s alright and she says she wants to go back to England. He asks her if she has any family but she says she doesn’t want to discuss it and yeah, if I randomly adopted one of my friend’s kids because my horoscope told me to and never told him he had a twin brother and kinda messed up his life I’d probably keep that quiet too.
DaGardia and the Shermans tell Pamela that they’ve thought about what she said and so they’ve written a new ending for Mr Banks. They then sing “Let’s go Fly a Kite” which moves Pamela so much that she actually gets up and dances with them. This causes Dolly to run to Walt’s office to tell him the news with the kind of breathless joy normally reserved for when little children wake from comas.
Things then proceed a lot more smoothly, with Pamela seeing the error of her ways and fully embracing the wisdom of Walt Disney and it’s various subsidiaries and shareholders. But when she finds out that the penguins in the chalk painting sequence are going to be animated and not trained birds she takes her ball and goes home, refusing to sign over the rights.
Walt visits her in London so that he can tell her a story about growing up dirt poor in Missouri because if Tom Hanks agreed to do your movie the least you could do is give him a stab at a third Oscar.
Walt explains how is father Elias used to make he and his brother deliver newspapers in blizzards and used to beat him with a belt. Walt tells Pamela that he needs to make the movie to redeem Mr Banks, that is, to redeem Elias Disney, just as she wrote the book to redeem Travers Goff (cough cough bullshit cough cough). Moved, Pamela agrees and finally signs the rights over to Disney.
Walt, I take it this is not how it went down in real life?
"I arrived at midnight in a blast of hellfire and arcane power but she was ready. We duelled for days, and half of London was blasted to ash by the force of our arcane blasts. So great was our power that we tore at the very fabric of nature, leaving gaping wounds through which ancient eldritch beings of unfathomable power peeped greedily. But when they saw us, they fled in horror. Until at last, our power spent, our bodies convulsing with dark passions, we enlocked and made hate beneath a pitiless blood red sky."

“I arrived at her home at midnight in a flash of hellfire and arcane power but she was ready. We dueled for days, and half of London was blasted to ash by the force of our hell spawned fire. So great was our power that we tore at the very fabric of nature, leaving gaping wounds through which ancient eldritch beings of unfathomable power peeped greedily. But when they saw us, they fled in horror. Until at last, our power spent, our bodies convulsing with dark passions, we enlocked and made hate beneath a pitiless blood red sky.”

 See? That would have made a much better movie.
Okay, so the years roll by as is their habit and Pamela has broken her writer’s block and is almost finished a new book and the film of Mary Poppins is about to be released. Her agent asks her if she’s going to the premiere but she says she can’t be arsed. Her agent correctly deduces that she hasn’t been invited and says “Mary Poppins wouldn’t stand for that.” because he’s a bit of a shit-stirrer frankly. So Pamela returns to Los Angeles and guilt-trips Walt into giving her a ticket to the premiere. Ralph is there to drive her and when she arrives at the cinema. Looking around her in bemusement and bewilderment, Pamela Travers allows herself to be led up the red carpet by Mickey Mouse.
"Your touch...so cold..." SILENCE.

“Your touch…so cold…”
Silence.

So. Now we come to the reason why I hate this movie so damn much. Up until now it’s simply been a bland, white-bread, intermittently entertaining piece of Oscar-bait. Here, for me, is where the movie becomes something quite loathsome.
“Mouse don’t do this. C’mon. What would you do without your ol’ buddy Walt? You need a demonic trickster figure around here.”

“Mouse don’t do this. C’mon. What would you do without your ol’ buddy Walt? You need a demonic trickster figure around here.”

“I’ve been interviewing replacements.”

“I’ve been interviewing possible replacements.”

"Well...I do have a loooooooot of down time between episodes...sure, why not?"

“Well…I do have a loooooooot of down time between episodes…sure, why not?”

So Pamela sits to watch the movie, and as it plays she’s overcome with emotion and breaks down weeping as her Daddy issues are magically cured by the magic of Disney. Trite? Sure. Schmaltzy? Absolutely. But the here’s the thing, Pamela Travers was in tears during the premiere of Mary Poppins.  Because she hated it. Because she thought it was a travesty. Because she had to sell her most cherished character for money and she felt used, and betrayed. And these motherfuckers couldn’t even let her have that. And here’s the thing. I disagree with Pamela Travers on pretty much every point. Reading through the book, every time I came across something that Disney changed I found myself saying “Yes. That was the right choice. That makes more sense. That line works better there. That change makes the story stronger.” It’s my personal opinion that the difference in quality between Mary Poppins the book and Mary Poppins the film is of the same order of magnitude as Jaws or The Godfather. That’s my opinion, and I’m entitled to it. And Pamela Travers was entitled to hers. And the fact that Disney tried to erase her disapproval from the historical record long after her death is downright Orwellian. In conclusion: Fuck. This. Movie.

"..."

“…”

"Wow. Im an asshole."

“Wow. I’m an asshole.”

"Yup."

“Yup.”

"Well. Go ahead and kill me. I guess I deserve it."

“Well. Go ahead and kill me. I guess I deserve it.”

"You think so?"

“You think so?”

"Sure. After what I did to you. And Pamela. And all those Oompa Loompas I enslaved to build Disneyland."

“Sure. After what I did to you. And Pamela. And all those Oompa Loompas I enslaved to build Disneyland. Go ahead Mouse. Finish me off.”

"Nah, Im not going to kill you."

“Nah, I’m not going to kill you. Despite everything…I still consider you a friend.”

"Really?"

“Really?”

"Yeah. Plus, Ive got another Disney review coming up so killing you would be super awkward."

“Yeah. Plus, I’ve got another Disney review coming up so killing you would be super awkward.”

"In that case, untie me and let's get the hell out of here."

“In that case, untie me and let’s get the hell out of here.”

"Hey, whats the hold up, is he dead yet or what?"

“Hey, what’s the hold up, is he dead yet…WHAT THE HELL?!”

"Hey Charlie, remember when I said Id kill you last?"

“Hey Charlie, remember when I said I’d kill you last?”

"I LIED."

“I LIED.”

***

Scoring

I’m actually not going to score this movie. This movie is a piece of corporate propaganda and I’m not even going to dignify it with an assessment of its merits as a work of art. Don’t forget that I’m still accepting nominations for the next movie deathmatch so if there’s a movie or cartoon series you’d like to see me review, sound off in the comments below. See you next time.

Next Update: 14 October 2015

NEXT TIME: DuckTales, awoo-ooooo!

DuckTales_the_Movie_-_Treasure_of_the_Lost_Lamp

Neil Sharpson aka the Unshaved Mouse is a playwright, comic book writer and blogger based in Dublin. The blog updates with a new review every second Thursday. He also updates a new chapter of his novel, The Devil’s Heir, every Saturday. Original artwork for this blog was commissioned from the oh-so talented Julie Android who you should definitely check out.  

104 comments

  1. I didn’t like the Mary Poppins movie, so I’ll throw my lot in with Pamela when she started crying at how much it sucked, although for different reasons. I did like this movie when I first saw it, but I only went to see it because Walt Disney was a character in the movie, and this was before I saw Mary Poppins. I’m not sure how I’d feel watching it again, but I’m not in a hurry to do that.

  2. Wow, so wasn’t expecting this for your worst Disney movie ever! It’s interesting seeing your take on this story, but I personally am not swayed. I feel you can argue that even in the film she was crying out of hate, not a strong argument I agree, but still arguable.

    But I’m just dying to see Laurence Olivier as Bert now!

  3. The reason I hate this movie so much is because the flashbacks to Travers’ childhood don’t seem to justify the level of bitterness she exudes as an adult.

  4. The really sad thing about this movie is I really like some parts, mostly with their portrayal of the Sherman Brothers and the process of making the movie, but yeah, what they did about Travers is really unforgivable.

    In happier news
    LIFE IS LIKE A HURRICA—ANE
    HERE IN–DUCK-BURG!
    RACECARS, LASERS, AEROPL—ANES
    IT’S A–DUCK-BULR!
    MIGHT SOLVE A MYSTERY!
    OR REWRITE HIST’RY!
    DUCKTALES!! WOO-OOO-OOOH!
    EVERY DAY THEY’RE OUT THERE MAKIN’
    DUCKTALES!! WOO-OOO-OOH!

    Yeah, something of a huge Uncle Scrooge fan here. You gonna talk about Carl Barks’ comics, or are you just gonna skim over the series and focus on the movie. Honestly the movie is… not anywhere near my top 10 favorite episodes, but it’s still got it’s moments.

    1. Ooh, if you’re going to talk about Carl Barks, you should also check out Don Rosa, Carl’s accepted successor, if you haven’t already. His stories have taken Scrooge McDuck and turned him into one of the greatest pulp adventure heroes of all time. The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck might very well be my favourite comic book of all time.

  5. Huh. Interesting choice for “Worst Disney Movie Ever Made”, but I can see why you chose it. From what I’ve researched about this whole issue, the choice of not showing Pamela’s tears of HATE during the first screening of Mary Poppins was not exactly the right choice. I’ll see if I can find this movie online and watch it for myself.

    As for suggestions for movies or TV shows for you to take a look at, here’s a few that come to mind (even if they don’t make the final cut, you should still check them out at some point. ESPECIALLY the TV show suggestion):

    Movies:

    Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (I never watched the TV series before I saw this movie, but I thought it was great. Especially the flashback scene)

    Justice League: Doom

    Superman vs The Elite (I’ll put this up here, even though it probably faces the longest odds. People REALLY hate Superman)

    TV Shows:

    The Spectacular Spider-Man

    In my opinion, THE best Spider-Man show to date. And sadly, very short-lived with only 26 episodes made. If you do decide to check this out, try not to be put off by the art style. It may be off-putting, but I believe everything else (the story, characters, etc.) more than make up for it.

    Look forward to the Ducktales review! I loved watching the show when I was a kid and I really enjoyed the movie.

    1. Honestly, I LOVE the art style in Spectacular Spiderman, but I’m a sucker for simplistic, cartoony designs. Windwaker is also my favorite Zelda game, so I guess that says a lot about my tastes.

  6. Great review but, as a bit of a history nerd, I feel the need to point out that the film Lincoln was about the 13th Amendment not the Emancipation Proclamation.

  7. Man, never saw this movie for many of the reasons you pointed out (looked like bland, white bread mid brow Oscar bait) but I had no idea this movie was so slanderous. That’s disgusting.

    Still a Disney fan, though.

  8. While I’m not crazy about the movie, I don’t loathe it either. I thought it was just alright. That said I think the topic of PL Traver’s feeling toward the movie is a bit more complicated than simply saying she loathed it.

    While there’s no doubt she wasn’t its biggest fan, to say that she hated it also goes a bit far. After the film was released she went out of her way to write Walt a letter commending him on the film saying things like “The whole film is a splendid spectacle…” and “I admire you for perceiving in Julie Andrews an actress who could play the part…” even ending the letter with “Yours, with a bouquet of flowers.” She even began collaborating with the Disney Company to make a sequel years later but died before it could go too far.

    To me, that doesn’t sound like the actions and words of a woman that bitterly loathed the movie. At the time of release she seemed to be okay with it. It was only later that she began to speak ill of it, usually to someone that expressed dislike toward Disney.

    She likely resented that after the success of the movie, when people said “Mary Poppins” they were usually meant “Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins.” Disney’s vision became the most well known and well loved version of the character, and to a woman like Travers, who was something of an egomaniac, it probably didn’t sit well with her.

    Now that last bit is speculation but I think it jives pretty well with all the differing accounts we have of Traver’s feelings on the movie.

    That said, I don’t think there’s any doubt she would have loathed this movie.

    For me, the real core of Saving Mr. Banks, what more or less explains the intent and spirit of the movie, is Tom Hank’s Oscar bait speech at the end. He talks about how storytellers change things to give them order and to meaning (or something to that effect, I only saw the movie once). To me it was almost as though the filmmakers were saying “Yes, things did not necessarily go down like this, but we’re tweaking things to present a tale of redemption for the audience, historical accuracy be damned.”

    Does that excuse the licenses taken by the movie? I think your mileage may vary on that one. For me it worked just fine, but that’s because I never bought into the idea that P.L. Travers was wronged by “Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins”. And if anyone saw this movie and was curious as to how it really went down, we live in a day and age where it’s easy to seek out information. So I can’t see it as really harmful. But to each their own.

    All that said, it was a great review Mouse, as per usual!

    1. Travers pretty much wanted her cake and eat it too. She kept acting as if the movie was beneath her, and as if she had been deeply wronged. But then she did things like first agreeing to the broadway production of Mary Poppins and then insisting that nobody from the team which originally made the movie was involved in it. But incorporating unused songs which were written for the movie, that was okay with her. She was quite a hypocrite.

      But, yeah, I also see the movie of a portrayal of the struggle between authors and filmmakers.

      1. Some have expressed admiration for Travers for “not suffering fools gladly.” But with some of the stuff I’ve read, it sometimes seems to me that her definition of “fools” means “anyone who is not Pamela Lyndon Travers.”

  9. I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t have any jokes. I’m just here today to voice my support for Bill Cypher as the blog’s new villain. Because pain is hilarious!

    – Definitely the real Paper Alchemist, with real human fingers and hair.

      1. Oh! And I completely forgot to nominate Inside Out and Spirited Away for the next deathmatch.

    1. Beware Bill. The most powerful and dangerous creature I’ve ever encountered. Whatever you do, never let him into your mind.

  10. Growing up I loved both the book and the movie, never compared them just saw them as different interpretations of a character and so I enjoyed them as equal but different. I’ve never seen Saving Mr Banks but after this review I am adding it to the ever expanding list of movies that I need to eventually see. (For the record I will never actually catch up on this list nor is it an actual list)

  11. Life is like a hurricane, here in, Duckburg.
    Racecars, lasers aero planes, it’s a, duck blur.
    Might solve a mystery, or rewrite history, Ducktales, whoo oo,
    Everyday they’re out there makin’ Ducktales, whoo oo
    Tales of derring-do, bad and good luck tales, whoo oo
    Du du du-danger, watch behind you, there’s a stranger out to find you
    What to do just grab onto some Duck Tales, whoo-oo
    Everyday they’re out there makin’ Ducktales, whoo oo,
    Tales of derring-do, bad and good luck tales, whoo oo
    Not pony tails or cotton tails but Duck Tales, whoo-oo

    Ok, I’m going to hell for that.

    For ideas. moviewise,

    Ghost In The Shell
    Ratatouille
    Balto
    Jetsons: The Movie
    We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story

    TV Shows

    Tailspin
    Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers
    Aladdin/Hercules crossover (which takes sometime after Aladdin and the King of Thieves)
    The Gummi Bears
    Gargoyles
    The Wizard of Oz
    SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron
    Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates (With Tim Curry voicing Captain Hook)

    1. Maybe I should decide which episodes to review

      TaleSpin – Bygones
      Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers – The Rescue Mutants
      Gargoyles – The Mirror or Awakening and City of Stone (I know they’re long, but they setup the history so well.
      Fox’s Peter Pan and the Pirates – Ages of Pan

      as far as the rest, take your pick.

      1. I recommend for Tale-Spin either The Balooest of the Blue Bloods (because this episode traumatized me as a child) or Her Chance to Dream (because this is my favorite and the ending made me cry).

  12. Nice Review Mouse, Ohhhh, all the money I’d pay for seing evil Walt and Bill have some sort of tv show or something, it would be fantastic. 😀

  13. I guess I’m way in the minority here in that I loved this movie. I tend to have a different view of biopics than most people, unless their specific goal is to be as accurate as possible, I generally don’t mind at all when liberties are taken. I fully recognize that the movie is Oscar bait, but goddamit I just find it so charming. Thomas Newman’s music really gets me in the right mood for this movie, it has just enough strains of the music from Mary Poppins that it makes me think of Mary Poppins and then I get all happy and I just can’t help but love this. It also helps that I love just about every actor in this thing. Tom Hanks has always been one of my absolute favorite actors and seeing him as Walt Disney just feels right. So yeah, I know it’s not a technically great movie, but I love it anyway.

    I would now like to reiterate my votes for Millennium Actress and Summer Wars. And I’ll also throw in Children Who Chase Lost Voices (which would probably be known as Journey to Agartha for you, Mouse, as that appears to be it’s title in the UK).

  14. That…is odd. Because I read the ending entirely different from the way you did. I didn’t read it as “she is now happy with the movie”, I actually thought that the movie left it open why she cried.

    Now, when it comes to historical events, well, this movies is more or less BS. They put small events (Travers actually had the habit of sitting into the grass for inspiration or something like that) in a different order and made some up. In reality, Walt Disney didn’t even meet Travers in person before the premiere, and I don’t think that Disney would have even gotten the idea to make a movie about one of their most troubled productions if not for the fact that someone wrote the script to the movie, it found approval and Disney decided to better buy and make it themselves than let someone else do it.

    It doesn’t work as a biopic, but then, I don’t think that it is supposed to be one. I think it is supposed to show the transition from page to picture, and how different ideas fight with each other. The movie shows sympathy for Travers insistence of hitting the core of the book (even if it is BS), while showing that film is a different medium which requires changes to be made. For me, the end of the movie is actually what makes me kind of like it…because, seriously, all the flashbacks to Travers childhood are quite a drag.

  15. I agree it’s not a particularly good film (I mean, what can you expect from the man who directed The Blindside?), but I do admit admiration for Colin Farrell’s performance. There’s a certain pitiful edge he brings to the role I honestly don’t think was in the script.

  16. I read Mary Poppins (the first one and one other) when I was a child but, after I had seen the film. And I really like both. The character of Mary Poppins in the book is I think something like a traditional fairy. The kind who make deals that go badly for the human. She is capricious and vain and there is something mysterious about her, especially the way all the animals know her. But, a main character doesn’t have to be moral for there to be something enjoyable in reading about her. And perhaps weirdly I also like her.

    1. Expanding on your thought, it would make a lot of sense if Mary Poppins was actually one of the Fair Folk, especially in terms of Disney-fication. Just like the Fae become helpful fairies (and what a stretch that is!) under Walt’s pen, Mary Poppins transforms from an immoral but powerful figure into a helpful and moral (but still powerful) person. Well, I’ve never read the books, though.
      I guess something similar could be said for Travers’ treatment by this movie; it kind of becomes a fairy tale. Not from the actual events, but because it gives a non-moral situation (Travers’ pettiness) a reason to exist (the whole daddy-issues thing), and therefore it can be resolved by addressing the cause. This does not make it a good story (or good psychology) but it does give it a narrative structure to exist in.
      Wow, this was supposed to be a quick comment…I’d better stop now before I start citing sources 😉

  17. And here I thought the worst Disney movie of all time was Mars Needs Moms. Just thinking of that animation makes my skin crawl…..

  18. Wow. I have a friend who ranted about this movie to me for like an hour after we saw it, and I think you perfectly articulated what he thought was wrong with it. And we both love Mary Poppins the movie, and like you he didn’t like the book. I’ve never read it, so I’ll withhold judgement there.

    But from what I can tell, turning THAT book into THAT movie was akin to turning lead into gold. Getting Disneyfied was the best thing that could ever happen to it, but doing that to a story is one thing, doing it to a PERSON is another.

    As for Review Suggestions? I’d like to see you do any of the GOOD Pixar movies, since so far we’ve only seen your thoughts on Cars and its sequel. Love to read your opinion on something like Ratatouille or Up.

    Any of Bluth’s better stuff would also be great, especially The Secret of Nimh, AKA the movie that proved not ALL early 80s animated films had to suck.

    But if I could get my Unshaved Mouse voodoo doll working (damn Brazilian parrot scammed me) and make you review any animated film, it would be The Last Unicorn. I think like Labyrinth its the sort of thing where either you grew up with it and adore it, or won’t understand what the fuss is about. It’s also a rare example of a book very loyally adapted into animation (the author wrote the screenplay), has a unique look, and was my introduction to the late and very great Christopher Lee.

  19. I haven’t ever watched Saving Mr. Banks so I’ll hold from commenting on it.

    As for Duck Tales, while I’m glad to see it here, I’d have liked a review of the five-part pilot better. Animation quality aside, it works better on every level, the characters all click much better, and there are more chances to comment on the Disney Ducks as a whole (including actual Donald appearances).

    As for my nominations, I stick to: Darkwing Duck (preferably the two-part pilot or a couple of Fearsome Five episodes), Count Duckula, the Real Ghostbusters and Star vs. the Forces of Evil (very short episodes, so you could even review up to four in a single go) for series, Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 (the horror!) and TMNT Forever for movies.

  20. I also kind of got the idea that Pam was crying tears of hate at the end of the film. Or at least mixed tears, like she couldn’t make up her mind about it.

    Oh well, it’s was a so-so film in any case, but the review was great fun. It always cracks me up how you’ve made Disney into a nefarious black sorcerer. It simply fits so well.

  21. It seems Mousve has a greater hatred of competent storytelling used for evil ends than for just utter incompetence. I am reminded a little of Felidae vs. Foodfight!, or of the terrible wrath and fury Pocahontas earned despite being technically quite decent.

    Also I would’ve pointed out the whole 13th Amendment vs Emancipation Proclamation business, dragging in that picture of Nit and waxing long and boring on the differences…had not another commenter beat me to it. Alas. Such is the lot of the history geek.

    1. Stands to reason, really. If you have no clue what you’re doing, you have no clue what you’re doing, if you have skills and use them to hurt others, that’s a choice, and is more condemnable than just plain knowing nothing.

      I guess Nietzsche might beg to differ, but eh.

  22. Okay Mouse, I decided to watch the first two episodes of Fate/Zero to find out what I was getting you into there.

    Sweet jesus, there’s some creepy shit. Two villains have been introduced committing horrific acts of child abuse. But I can’t help liking what I’ve seen. Animation is honestly fantastic. Music is pretty good.

  23. Huh. I wasn’t expecting that. Oh, not the choice of movie (I’m pathetically proud that I guessed it right) but at Walt’s fate. Or was the whole point not to destroy him but to teach him not to be an asshole? Either way, here’s hoping it was the right decision!

    “Legend of the Lost Lamp” was a fun movie! . . . although I’ve wondered for a long time now if they used it to try out some ideas for Genie for “Aladdin.”

      1. Hooray! And it is as close to a perfect internet thread as you can get, Mouse. Especially given Alex Hirsch actually wrote it. So yes, all the jokes made are actually the creator. Including that video with the rabbit slowly decaying.

  24. For the Movie Deathmatch:

    Films:
    -Descendants (not a cartoon, but Disney related nonetheless)
    -Brave (I know you said you don’t review Pixar movies, but i’m curious what you think of this film compared to Disney’s princess movies)
    -Inside Out (Again, I know you don’t review Pixar movies, but i’m just curious what you thought of this one)
    -The Rugrats Movie
    -The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
    -Mars Needs Moms
    -Tales from Earthsea
    -A Goofy Movie
    -Planes
    -Planes: Fire and Rescue
    -Looney Tunes: Back in Action
    -Lupin the 3rd: The Castle of Cagliostro
    -Grave of the Fireflies
    -Tentacolino
    -My Little Pony: Equestria Girls

    Carfoon Series:
    -My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
    -A Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales
    -Star Trek: The Animated Series
    -Back to the Future: The Animated Series
    -James Bond Jr.
    -Ren and Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon

    1. Oh yeah, Descendants. I was just thinking about that myself. It’s so charmingly horrible, and filled with so many openings for comments, questions, plot hole mocking and joking.

    2. Ohhhhh, Star Trek: Animated Series and Back To The Future: Animated Series!

      They are an experience not to be missed.

      1. Star Trek: TAS was how I got introduced to Trek at the age of thirteen, when they ran it on Nickelodeon. Okay, the animation was clunky (and the MUSIC…ai-yi-yi), but the writing was several cuts above most Saturday morning kid fare. They didn’t dumb down scientific concepts, they showed characters thinking their way through situations…and how many seventies’ Saturday morning cartoons can YOU name that had a Shakespeare quote for an episode title? Or adapted a (non-Trek) short story by a distinguished science fiction writer?

        I also loved the fact that besides (almost) the entire original cast reprising their roles, some of the original GUEST STARS came in to voice their live-action roles–Stanley Adams as Cyrano Jones, Roger C. Carmel as Harry Mudd, and Mark Lenard as Sarek.

  25. Hmmm… I think I’ll agree with Mouse when it comes to the Travers part of the film but the portrayal of Disney and how the film was brought to light was very decently done. I loved it. And yes I think the “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” song sequence was just perfect in every way…

    BTW, is the relationship between Pam and Goff a bit too borderline incestuous? I got no vibe when I watched it the first time but on second viewing I was a bit unsettled…

  26. When are ya gonna review one of Don Bluth’s good movies like you promised him? Don’t leave him hanging man.

  27. Some movies that’d be interesting to review (disclaimer: I haven’t seen all of the suggested films):
    The Brave Little Toaster (and its sequels)
    The Iron Giant
    The Shrek movies
    Either of the 2 Spongebob movies
    The Simpsons Movie
    The Land Before Time

    Shows (same disclaimer applies above):
    My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
    The Simpsons (being a fan yourself)
    SpongeBob
    Courage the Cowardly Dog
    Adventure Time
    Gravity Falls
    Steven Universe
    Star vs. the Forces of Evil
    Teen Titans/Teen Titans Go!

  28. By the way, while I’m not sure I’m getting it right, having neither watched this movie nor read the books, after rereading this view it struck me– is Books!Mary Poppins a Self-Insert of Travers, or rather what Travers would have liked to be? I think it’d explain a lot– I have seen this kind of crap so often in fanfiction it’s frightening.

    You know, the whole deal about the rude, self-centered, overpowered main character that everyone still either loves or fears– if not both– and is always proved right by the narrative, all the while displaying numerous common traits and opinions with the author. I wouldn’t be shocked if I were told Travers actually sniffed disdainfully at everything.

    1. It happens in commercial fiction all the time, too. I’ve even come across it in literary fiction, from authors who really should know better. And all the Mary Sue tests have it as red flag number two (number one is being named after the author).

  29. I’ve always wondered–why has there never been a big-screen biopic of Walt himself?

    I asked that question of the attendants at One Man’s Dream, the film and mini-museum at Disney Studios. They shrugged: “Walt was a very private man.”

  30. Another thing is that in the movie they show Travers approving Jolly Holiday, even though earlier in the movie she says it’s “only Mary Poppins” and that song gets it wrong like a bunch.

    Also I know Tink is a symbol for the company but you have to admit her movie counterpart is pretty identical to the one in the book, despite how she’s treated in other media. But then again you always were hard on that adaptation…

  31. Actually, you know what? The Road to El Dorado. I haven’t seen anyone nominating it, and I’m ashamed to say I had forgotten about it myself, but you definitely have to review this at some point. Dreamworks’ last great 2D hurrah! Brought by two of Aladdin’s creators! Chel!

  32. PBS did this recent documentary on Walt Disney and their theory is that Disney, not Travers, was the one with the daddy issues, hence the greater focus on Mr. Banks in the movie than in the books. I’ll admit that I haven’t done any in-depth research on Travers’ life, but daddy issues being a Disney thing rather than a Travers one does have a ring of truth to it IMO.

    1. Oh definitely. But I think that made the movie so much stronger. Mary Poppins can’t really have an arc because she’s practically perfect in every way so shifting the focus to Mr Banks gives us a more satisfying through line.

  33. Okay, this’ll be interesting. We’ve got Disney’s biggest sin, a movie that claims a previous work got someone’s approval when it didn’t, about to be destroyed by a reviewer who actually liked the previous work in question. This’ll definitely take a pretty nasty toll on the Mouse for sure. Right now, I honestly stand by my saying White Wilderness was at least a greater vice of Walt’s than this, as he was actually around to be involved in a movie which used animal cruelty as a means of deception (yeah, those things might be bigots, but two wrongs, yannow). Walt himself didn’t make this, so all he did wrong in this case is make an adaptation that took liberties the original writer didn’t agree with, and from what I’ve read of your review of that work itself, you like it. I’ll see if I can be swayed by the time I’ve read through this armageddon of a review. Maybe this will be old man Walt’s true undoing.

    Ahh yeah, I remember being a kid and getting to hear the actual Mary Poppins books for the first time. My sister’s first remark after getting a bit read to her was pretty much “why is Mary Poppins so mean all the time?” I mean I guess some of the extra content that the movies omitted were interesting (like the babies and their subplot, or was that the second book?) but yeah, I do prefer Andrews’ version of the character.

    Hmm, can’t blame anyone complaining about LA’s scent. There’s a reason weezing was originally named after that place. Though from the times I’ve been south of the border, I remember New York smelling worse, but then again, that was the last place I was in that country. And yeah, interesting point with Peter Pan. It definitely is too bad the movie missed an opportunity to make a reference of history and establish the character being portrayed at the same time. Also, hold the phone, did Disney really cast Ryan “Started-The-Fire” Howard to play a Sherman brother? I think I’m glad I missed this one, I’d probably laugh too hard at that. Though not as hard as I laughed at Robert complimenting Dick Van Dyke’s accent skills. Huh boy.

    1. Also, another reason Pooh was a funny choice: I seem to remember Milne actually pretty much handing Winnie the Pooh to Disney because at that point he eventually basically decided to pooh pooh Pooh. Maybe Milne didn’t like everything Disney did with his books, but the source material wasn’t particularly dear to its author as far as Milne’s writing went.

  34. Ahh man, I knew the “anti-red” joke was coming. Still made me chuckle. I guess Walt can be glad cartoons were grey back in the 40s, eh? In any case, I wonder if Travers was very concerned that the adaptation might possibly alienate her books from the ever important demographic of electabuzzes and scythers. Darn, I just reached my quota of Pokémon jokes, didn’t I?

    Hmm, sounds as if Disney and Pixar weren’t so different. Steve Jobs showing up was a 2319 down at Pixar, if my memory is correct. Also, wasn’t a Spoonful of Sugar one of the later songs the Shermans put in? I seem to remember it replaced a more sentimental song which Walt vetoed at some point. The Eyes of Love, I think it was called? Interesting what you can pick up reading a soundtrack tape with commentaries on each of the songs. And yeah, the Andrew line is funny because it’s true. He kind of did get his subplot cut down, didn’t he?

    Ok, good to see Walt was spared and got to blast Charlie, because yeah, putting words into Travers’s mouth that were the opposite of her real ones was pretty darn awful, but in the end, that wasn’t Walt’s decision himself. If anyone ever uncovers a note in his hand to make this, I might change my mind, but as far as I can tell at this point, Walt can’t be considered responsible for anything that happened after he kicked the bucket. Except the brooms.

    I’ll still agree he was kind of an asshole though. I mean, mass lemming murder, what the hell, man?

  35. I can understand your perspective. Believe me, this is a perfectly sound take on the film, and one I myself considered as I was watching it. I was surprised how much it fixated on dissecting Travers’ psyche and the filmmakers’ personal ideas on where her anger at the Disney people came from.

    My personal theory is that the filmmakers realized somewhere along the line that the other option was having Travers shit all over Walt Disney and the Sherman brothers for 2 hours with no explanation, and no one would pay to see that. They probably assumed trying to understand and dissect Travers’ motives was the only way they could respect a real person, and not doing so would be unfair.

    I’m applying the following quote from Roger Ebert to this film, to justify why I enjoyed it:
    “Shortly after the film was released, I ran into Walter Cronkite and received a tongue-lashing, aimed at myself and my colleagues who had praised ‘JFK.’ There was not, he said, a shred of truth in it. It was a mishmash of fabrications and paranoid fantasies. It did not reflect the most elementary principles of good journalism. We should all be ashamed of ourselves.

    I have no doubt Cronkite was correct, from his point of view. But I am a film critic and my assignment is different than his. He wants facts. I want moods, tones, fears, imaginings, whims, speculations, nightmares. As a general principle, I believe films are the wrong medium for fact. Fact belongs in print. Films are about emotions. My notion is that JFK is no more, or less, factual than Stone’s Nixon or Gandhi, Lawrence of Arabia, Gladiator, Amistad, Out of Africa, My Dog Skip or any other movie based on ‘real life.’ All we can reasonably ask is that it be skillfully made and seem to approach some kind of emotional truth.”

    The ending was pushing this hard, but being honest there and just saying she hated it wouldn’t have fit with the rest of the movie. Also the script had already been developed before Disney agreed to handle the project, so I don’t think it’s fair to dismiss it as corporate propaganda. As Doug Walker pointed out, they do at least portray Disney as drinking, smoking, and attempting to take back his promise to let Travers attend the premiere.

    1. I think both Cronkite and Ebert were right about JFK, an awful message but one of the best movies ever made. By contrast, SMB is too flat and bland to justify its distortions in the name of art.

      1. Well, I wasn’t expecting one of the best movies ever made. I actually like the laid-back, straightforward storytelling and pace. It’s something old-fashioned I wish more modern films would copy. The tone feels straight-forward with a touch of sentimentality and childishness, which is just right for the material. I watched it in the theater with my 70-year-old aunt and I think the filmmakers knew exactly who it was made for.

  36. Anyway it’s not one of my favorites and I do think it’s disappointing, hearing about the long time they spent listening to Richard Sherman who was full of stories, that they wouldn’t make the film more accurate with all that information he gave them. In a way I think if they’d just recorded Richard Sherman giving his honest memories of this period and played the videotapes, I would have been satisfied.

  37. Well I have not seen this film (and I do not wish to) but in my understanding the script for the films was written by the screenwriters and then sold to Disney studios. So Disney did not change the ending to make them look better themselves. Additionally like the film Mary Poppins being different than the book, this film is different from the reality because of the artistic license of the screenwriters to say something larger about how the meaning of the art changes with the artists who are trying to say something. I am very loosely basing what I said to some reviews I red when the film came out so I could be wrong (and I am not really able to express myself well).

  38. “But the here’s the thing, Pamela Travers was in tears during the premiere of Mary Poppins. Because she hated it. Because she thought it was a travesty. Because she had to sell her most cherished character for money and she felt used, and betrayed”
    …What?
    But…why didn’t they just go with THAT?! THAT would have increased the chances of a freaking oscar, why didn’t they adapt the story…history faithfully?
    That’s so fucking dumb.

    Oh! You’re taking suggestions? Not that you’ll ever read this comment (month old review, my internet died!) but I suggest JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Mostly season 1 though, season 2 is 48 episodes long (it’s basically an anthology series).

  39. I remember me and my sister saw this in theaters. I’d rather have watched Frozen but that theater wasn’t playing it for whatever ungodly reason. I remember liking the Walt Disney bits (like him trying to conceal his smoking habits.) and the Sherman brothers. However the Debbie Downer-ness that is PL Travers put the nail in the coffin of ever wanting to see this again, let alone own it. Focusing on someone that bitter and hateful for the better part of an hour is just exhausting.

  40. Hopefully this will emend some of your frustrations toward the film: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhTHZ1jqW2o

  41. I went to read this one again on a whim, and I totally forgot you were interviewing Bill this far back in the proceedings. Kind of hilarious in hindsight. Took him a year and four months, but he got the job.

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