'Saving Mr. Banks' garners mainly positive reviews

'Saving Mr. Banks' stars Emma Thompson as 'Mary Poppins' author P.L. Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.

Francois Duhamel/Disney/AP
'Saving Mr. Banks' stars Tom Hanks.

“Saving Mr. Banks,” the film based on the life of “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers and the making of the “Mary Poppins” movie, hits theaters on Dec. 13 and is already earning mainly positive reviews.

“Saving Mr. Banks” stars “Brave” actress Emma Thompson as Travers, while “Captain Phillips” actor Tom Hanks portrays Walt Disney, Colin Farrell of “Total Recall” plays Travers’ father, and actors B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman play the Sherman Brothers, who were behind the score of “Mary Poppins.” It will be released in limited locations on Dec. 13 and enter wide release on Dec. 20. (Check back for our own review on Friday.) Oscar pundits have been pointing to the film as a possible contender for major awards like Best Picture, Best Actress (Thompson), and Best Actor (Hanks).

Variety writer Scott Foundas called the movie “a bit square, never particularly surprising, yet very rich in its sense of creative people and their spirit of self-reinvention” and found Thompson “superb” and Farrell “excellent.”

“[John Lee] Hancock, who cut his own directorial teeth at the studio (on the inspirational baseball drama “The Rookie” and the underrated “The Alamo”) is sometimes a bit too on-the-nose with his parallel storytelling, too heavy with Thomas Newman’s bouncy score, and too eager to pluck at our heartstrings (at which he nevertheless succeeds),” he wrote. “And if someone had to play Disney in a movie, a better candidate than Hanks, himself a gleaming icon of wholesome American entertainment, is hard to imagine.”

Forbes writer Scott Mendelson found the movie production scenes “somewhat repetitive” but wrote that Thompson’s scenes with actor Paul Giamatti as a limo driver were “among the best in the picture” and that the flashbacks to Travers’ youth with her father were “most engaging,” with Farrell “terrific” in the movie.

Leslie Felperin of the Hollywood Reporter said the script is “ingenious.”

“Emma Thompson takes charge of the central role of the waspish P.L. Travers with an authority that makes you wonder how anybody else could ever have been considered,” she wrote. “Colin Farrell [is] doing his best work for some time…. [there are] outstanding performances by the leads and supporting cast.”

Meanwhile, Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw says the roles of Travers and Disney are “enjoyably played” by Thompson and Hanks but that the scenes of Travers’ childhood are “laborious” and Farrell is “below-par.” He found the movie “a watchable film, with a giant-sized spoonful of sugar…. It's a shame we couldn't get more fireworks from the incomparable Hanks and Thompson.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.