A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
To some degree, the idea that sticking to one's principles is more important than money or fame is part of the story. Also, that it's important to find a way to heal from past emotional wounds.
Positive Role Models
P.L. Travers is incredibly devoted to her fictional creation, Mary Poppins, and won't permit Walt Disney to make a movie about the famed magical nanny unless it meets her exacting specifications. Despite Disney's incredible charm, Travers refused to budge, not until she's assured he won't tinker too much with the character.
Violence & Scariness
A woman almost commits suicide by walking into a river in front of her daughter. A man argues loudly with his co-worker within earshot of his child. A sick man is shown in bed, hacking up blood.
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"Damn" and "hell" are as rough as it gets here.
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Products & Purchases
The entire film promotes the classic Disney movie Mary Poppins, as well as the commercial aspects of the Disney empire, though it's all in a historical context.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A father can't control his cravings for alcohol and literally drinks himself to death, leaving his family in despair. Walt Disney is a secret cigarette smoker.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while Saving Mr. Banks is about the making of a classic family movie, some of the topics -- alcoholism, suicide, and a difficult childhood -- might be tough for younger kids to handle. While there are plenty of lighthearted moments to entertain tween and teen viewers, the surprisingly sad moments can be a bit jarring -- including a very sick man on his deathbed and a woman attempting suicide in front of her daughter. Parents should consider whether kids are ready for these subjects -- or if they'd even enjoy a movie that bounces back and forth between silly and serious. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Saving Mr. Banks is lovely in many ways, including its lead actors, Thompson and Hanks, who are irresistibly winning. But it's a tale of two stories, both of which are indulged, making for a tonally uneven film. To start, the movie Mary Poppins is a fairy tale. The story behind the movie resembles a fairy tale of sorts here, too, as the prickly writer is shown gradually lowering her guard and letting the talented studio writers and Disney win her over for a happily ever after. But a happily ever after it apparently wasn't. The real Travers was famously displeased with the movie version of her book, and it appears the fight may have been more contentious than what we see. And the film ends swiftly in a somewhat saccharine moment, diminishing the potency of previous battles shown leading up to the standoff.
More problematic is how the film mixes scenes from Travers' Australian childhood that are melancholy, bordering on despairing, with comedic moments capturing the Travers-Disney tug-of-war. Had the filmmakers committed to one (the negotiations between Travers and Disney) or the other (Travers' hardscrabble past) more fully, it would've coalesced into a greater whole. A spoonful of sugar turned into a cupful here, undoing the good the medicine would have done.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.