So a film about the creation of one of the most beloved movies/musicals, Mary Poppins AND with one of the best actors of our generation Tom Hanks playing none other than Walt Disney… Oh this was going to go over well no matter what was put on the market. After checking out the movie this weekend, I do have to say that I was not in the least bit disappointed. Granted, I did think the movie could have done much more with the talent they had and the material at their disposal. But that should not take away from what is by all means a feel good charismatic movie.
The movie is the story of the writer of the Mary Poppins books, PL Travers or Helen Goff (Emma Thompson). After twenty years of being persuaded by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), Travers gives into to him and agrees to sign the rights of her book and the characters so that a movie/musical can be made. Due to her rigid nature with how she wants the characters to be portrayed Mrs. Travers (as she prefers to be called) makes life very difficult for the writers, all who are assigned to her, and to Walt Disney himself. It is revealed through flashback narrative that the story of Mary Poppins is actually based on her life living in rural Australia and does not want her version of the characters tainted by a Hollywood version. The story then follows Mrs. Travers and the others around her who try to break through the troubles that she is having with the movie and with the characters, including Disney, the writers, and the driver assigned to her Ralph (Paul Giamatti)
Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, and Paul Giamatti are Amazing!
The cast really carries this film with phenomenal performances across the board. Although everyone does a wonderful job there really is three that step forward was is Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, and Paul Giamatti. While Hanks and Thompson are going to receive praise across the board and I will get to my praise in a moment. But before we get into that, I would like to send special props to Paul Giamatti who I feel will not get the credit that is due. Poor Paul. He truly is one of the most underrated actors in show business. He is a very versatile actor and seems to always appear in these kinds of movies. But he usually has the ‘always the bridesmaid never the bride’ syndrome when it comes to awards. Giamatti plays Pamela Travers’ Chauffeur Ralph and is the first character who is able to break through the bubble that she had built for herself. He does a fantastic job portraying a very optimistic and cheerful person even when someone is being cold towards him. Giamatti will probably receive very little praise for his role. But at least he can rest assure that his performance did not fall on deaf ears with me.
Now on to the two people who really make this movie special, Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. First off we will tackle Hanks who has quickly become the actor of this generation. Already once this year I have singed his praise for his role in Captain Phillips and now I am doing it again since Hanks does a wonderful job with the man who has touched so many lives, Walt Disney. Hanks portrayal of Disney is perfect. He shows all sides of Disney as the whimsical and cheerful man who created the Most Magical Place on Earth as well as the business savvy man who could have the tact to make all of it possible. He comes across as an optimist and a kind-hearted man who just wants to make everyone around him happy. He is the epitome of what I think when I think of Disney.
But the one who deserves the most praise is our leading lady, Emma Thompson. I was not expecting such a wonderful performance from a woman who I had not seen take on such a heavy-handed role in the past. Her performance is wonderful as she shows that pain and anguish that would come with a woman like Pamela Travers and the worry of seeing something she created be turned into something she does not want. She has a dry humor to her and generates the most feelings in the movie ranging from side-splitting laughter and tear jerking sadness. Her performance as Pamela Travers is one that deserves an Academy Award Nomination.
It is a Wonderful Story About Turning Hardship into Something Beautiful
Growing up, I absolutely loved Mary Poppins. When I was between the tender ages of 1-6 it was one of the few films that I would ever watch and I still love to watch it now. But even to this point I did not know that Mary Poppins or the Banks Family was based on a book. I didn’t even know that it was loosely based of PL Travers/Helen Goff’s actual life. To watch what went on behind the scenes of the film really gave me a new perspective and a new respect for the film and the people who created it.
To know the story of Goff’s life and the person that Mr. Banks was based on is really something special. Mary Poppins becomes an even better movie when you know of what went into the creation. To create something that is so wonderful, means so much to so many children of all ages based off of someone’s tragic life is a beautiful story.
It Was Disappointing to a Fault
The complaint that I have for this movie is the fact that there just wasn’t any wow factor. There was no moment where I was blown away by the story being told. The actors of course were wonderful, but I never thought I was watching something special or award-winning. It felt like a feel good comedy drama with a talented cast about one of the greatest movies ever made… Which is what it is and there is no problem with that. But it really isn’t anything more than that. It isn’t a wonderful film, a timeless classic, or a movie that will even be remembered well after a few years.
I know some people would call foul on me for criticizing a movie for this, but I do feel it is justified. Not only do I feel like the film’s intention was to create a timeless movie and one that would win the accolades of its peers, but more importantly one of the biggest parts of a movie is how it is remembered years after it is released. If people do not remember the movie than even though the movie might be an initial success… Overall other films will take its place in history as great movies from their respected generations and it will be left in the dust.
This movie was very good. It wasn’t everything that it could be. But it was still a very good movie. The acting is absolutely phenomenal and the story will give you a new-found respect and love for what is already a timeless classic in Mary Poppins. It may not be a must watch this Holiday Season. But if you have some free time and it is showing, I recommend it. You won’t be disappointed.
Final Score 4/5
Thank you for reading and as always if you enjoyed this review than please like and subscribe for more. Please return as the year winds down for more reviews from me.