(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Saving Mr. Banks. Snippets of the film's score by Thomas Newman are heard in the background throughout)
Doug (vo): Let's end Disneycember with their latest Disney film, Saving Mr. Banks. This one is definitely worth talking about because this is the first Disney film that’s actually about the making of a Disney film, and not something like The Reluctant Dragon where you have these fictional characters going through and seeing how stuff is animated, I mean, like, the real process. I mean Walt Disney talking about developing an idea and trying to work with the author to come to a compromise and creative decisions and choices and disagreements. For Disney, this is really new territory for a film to take.
Doug (vo): The film stars Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. She’s the author of Mary Poppins and is incredibly resistant to handing over the rights to Disney to make a movie out of it. Why? Because a lot of it came from her true-life experiences on the farm. She had a father she really loved who was an alcoholic, and a nanny/aunt who came in to make everything better. But when the Disney corporation wants to, for lack of a better word, Disneyfy it, she wants no part of it and keeps saying that if they want the rights, they have to play by her rules. And the rest of the movie is them trying to figure out how to make this film work. Disney wants it one way, she wants it another. It’s the battle of the egos going back and forth, back and forth, Disney being the charming businessman, and Travers the brutal purist who wants to see her vision exactly how she imagined it.
Doug (vo): One of the great things about this film is that it’s done almost entirely from the developmental point of view. You don’t really see the set or lighting or cameras, actors, anything like that. It’s all from the development of the sketches, the songs, the ideas and so forth. You don’t usually see that that often.
[Various clips showing the characters are shown]
Doug (vo): Emma Thompson is wonderful as P.L. Travers, but the one that really shocked me was Tom Hanks as Disney. When I saw him in this role, I rolled my eyes and said, "Oh, God. This is gonna bomb. There is no way this is gonna work." But, within five minutes, he really won me over. He captured the charming businessman, but he also got sort of that element of "he always gets what he wants". He’ll compromise, but in the end, he still wants it a certain way and he’s gonna get it. When I think back to the movie, I don’t even imagine seeing Hanks there, I actually imagined the real Disney sitting there talking with her. That’s pretty damn impressive. The movie even shows some elements that I don’t think Disney years ago would ever allow. For example, you see Walt smoke, drink and swear. It’s not for very long, but it’s in there. You even see him kind of be backstabbing, like when he doesn’t invite P.L. Travers to the premiere. This is a side of Disney that I’m really shocked the studio was allowing, but I’m really glad they are. It shows they’re comfortable with their honesty, but I think they also realized the importance that this also makes him more relatable and identifiable. All the other actors are wonderful in recreating these roles, the Sherman Brothers, the driver, they’re all fantastic and are given a lot to work with.
[Several flashbacks in the film are shown, as well as the scene at the premiere of Mary Poppins]
Doug (vo): There’s only two problems I have with the movie. One is that the flashbacks, while well done, seem like two totally different movies. A lot of times, her memories are a little too whimsical, but you could argue that’s sort of her romanticized version of it. They do make it clear that these are her memories, that’s how she saw it. So you can technically give it a pass, but the two don’t always gel together. I’m also kind of bothered about the ending. Without giving too much away, they show her at the premiere and her reaction to it. (A picture is shown of the real P.L. Travers at the premiere, alongside Walt Disney and Julie Andrews) Anyone that knows the real story knows what P.L. Travers really thought about the movie, and in this film, you can make a very slim argument that maybe that’s what they’re hinting at, but, no. Majority of the audiences would watch this and think that she’s reacting to it a certain positive way. I think it’d be very difficult to find an audience member to see this film and think, “Oh, yeah. That properly represented what she thought of her creation being brought to the big screen.”
Doug (vo): And while those two elements do bother me, I’m still really impressed with how incredibly adult this movie is. Remember how I was talking about 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and how even though it was a family movie, it was written in a very adult way and how Disney films don’t really do that anymore? This film does. This takes it very seriously and doesn’t do that much for little kids, it’s mainly at adults. Like I said, the flashbacks can be a little too whimsical and there’s even a scene where, apparently, she’s dancing with the Sherman Brothers to "Let’s Go Fly a Kite", and, yeah, it’s a touch too Disney-ish. But those moments are very rare, and even then, they’re not awful, they just seem a touch out of place. I was really impressed with it, and glad that they chose such an adult angle to tackle it with. This could’ve very easily been made too corny or too Disneyfied, but they found a really good balance and used some real sincere honesty to it that I think is very welcomed. And in my opinion, I think it really shows the evolution of Disney, as has all of Disneycember.
[Several clips of other live-action Disney films play out as "The Egg Travels" from Dinosaur plays]
Doug (vo): There's a wonderful scene where Disney talks about how he actually understands what Travers is going through and talks about when he was offered a bunch of money for Mickey. But he said even though he had no money at the time, he could never sell him because, as he puts it, that mouse is family. And in many respects, that's what Disney has become: family. Yeah, there's a lot of things you don't agree with and you're not always gonna enjoy them, but they were there from the beginning, they'll be there at the end. Disney hasn't really gotten any better or worse, it's just sort of changed. It's evolved with time and knows that it has to be a little different in order to survive. But with those different changes comes all sorts of unique visions, wonderful characters and new ways of looking at stories both old and new. It's been really great going through all these Disney films through December, and keep an eye out in January. I might still do one or two by popular demand that a lot of people are complaining I should. [The poster for Old Yeller is shown] Oops. But through this month, I've loved seeing Disney evolve, change and turn into something that is definitely different, but still so familiar. I loved them so many years ago, I know I'll love them so many years in the future. Thanks for watching, and be sure to still keep that mouse family.
[A quick montage of clips is shown as the Disneycember logo is shown once more]