Walt Disney’s early animated movies considerably softened their source material. The witch in the Snow White fairy tale dies by dancing to death while wearing glowing hot iron shoes. In Carlo Collodi’s The Adventures of Pinocchio , the puppet smashes the unnamed cricket to death.
Similar whitewashing is given to PL Travers, the creator of Mary Poppins, in Saving Mr. Banks. Skim any bio of Travers and you'll come away with one thought: Yikes. Making Mary Poppins must have been a nightmare.
But Saving Mr. Banks is a Disney movie, and Travers is the wonderful Emma Thompson. It won't be such rough going, will it? By the end, we'll probably all have learned something, too.
In fact, Uncle Walt himself, Walt Disney, makes an appearance in the not-quite-Walt-Disney-like Tom Hanks. But he's fine, and the supporting cast is fine, too. It includes Paul Giamatti as the one American Travers likes; Jason Schwartzmann as co-writer of the Mary Poppins movie songs; and Colin Farrell overdoing it a little as Travers' alcoholic deadbeat father who suffers from advanced cirrhosis.
Such is life. And death. Thompson and Hanks are quite charming, and if you're looking for a harmless confection this holiday season, you could do much worse.
SAVING MR. BANKS
Directed by John Lee Hancock
With Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Colin Farrell
Regal Santa Fe Stadium 14