Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies, since I’ve always found them to be endlessly fascinating.
It’s been torture, having to wait until today to share this trailer with you. I’ll save my thoughts for after, so go ahead and watch:
My obsession with all things Disney should be well know by this point to anyone who regularly reads this blog. So the fact that we’re finally getting a biopic of Walt Disney is definitely something to be excited for. But this isn’t any regular biopic, but one made by Walt Disney Studios, itself. Imagine Apple producing a Steve Jobs biopic or Microsoft crafting one for Bill gates. Hell, the entire company is named after the man.
I was a little wary when Tom Hanks was cast. I know he’s a great actor, but it felt a little like pandering by choosing a popular cast. But this first trailer has done a lot to assuage my fears. Hanks looks and sounds the part, but still seems to be focusing on performance over impersonation, which is a good thing. (I’ve always been a bit let down by Jamie Foxx’s performance in Ray, which looked and sounded great but felt like the devotion to accuracy left the role feeling a bit flat.)
The great move of Saving Mr. Banks is that it is following the recent trend of film biopics, most recently used to great effect in Lincoln. Instead of giving us Disney’s life story, we’re instead getting a glimpse of the man through one particular event. This allows the movie to have a tighter focus and a more structured story, and to me is the preferred way to make a biopic. Give me Tombstone over Wyatt Earp any day.
They’ve chosen a fascinating story to tell, by the way. In fact, Saving Mr. Banks is equally, if not more, a biopic of P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. The story of Travers’ and Disney’s “collaboration” in making 1964’s Mary Poppins is fairly well documented. In many ways it was a disaster, with Travers objecting to many aspects of the film and Disney overruling her in every instance. In fact, she was so upset that she refused to ever work with Disney again, and had very strict guidelines when the stage version was produced in the 2000’s.
I adore Emma Thompson and her very British sensibilities, and the thought of her squaring off against Hanks’ Disney is fantastic. The rest of the cast looks to be great too, especially Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak as the Sherman Brothers but also Paul Giamatti and Colin Farrell. Saving Mr. Banks is directed by John Lee Hancock, who has directed several films for Disney as well as (the controversial) The Blind Side. He’s a solid director, who I think will get out of his cast’s way and let them stand on their own.
To me, it’s incredibly bold that Disney would produce a film about its founder and icon that is based on this particular event. Yes, it’s perfect fodder for a lot of comedy and conflict, but Disney doesn’t come off smelling like roses at the end of the events. It’s true that Mary Poppins is a masterpiece, was universally loved by critics and audiences, and earned Julie Andrews her only Oscar, so you could say that Disney was justified in whatever choices he made, but it’s still true that he made the movie he wanted to make, not the one Travers wanted him to make. And while I’m sure the film will not paint Disney in a bad light (I could be wrong, but I don’t think I saw any smoking in the trailer), I love that they’re making him look human instead of merely heroic.
The trailer itself is full of so many great little moments. Richard M. Sherman hiding the music for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” after Travers objections to made up words is hilarious. For some reason I love the way Hanks says “Damn” in Disney’s office. The idea that Disney would make a bet that he could get Travers on a ride seems completely in sync with the character of the man. But for me, what really gets to me is the shot of Disney at the gates of Disneyland. It’s filmed from far enough back where if you squint a bit you can forget that you’re watching Tom Hanks and instead just see Walt standing there at his park. Knowing that they filmed these scenes on location in Disneyland gives me an immeasurable amount of joy, because Walt would not have had it any other way. The parks were his ultimate dream, and to showcase them as a part of this story is a fitting tribute to the man.
Saving Mr. Banks is now my most anticipated upcoming film, and I’m counting down the days. Given its release date (December 13) and the fact that the Academy loves movies about Hollywood (Argo), I could easily see an acting nomination or two come Oscar time. But beyond that, my hopes are high that this is the Walt Disney film we have been waiting for.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to Saving Mr. Banks? What was your favorite moment from the trailer? After watching it, is there anyone you think would make a better Walt Disney? Does it make you want to go rewatch Mary Poppins? Let me know in the comments!