Mary Poppins has earned its place as a classic story, but most of us are more familiar with the Disney movie than the book. The question is, then, how did that beloved adaptation come to be? Saving Mr. Banks provides a great answer as it pairs Emma Thompson (P.L. Travers) and Tom Hanks (Walt Disney) to do battle over how Mary will appear onscreen. Ah, excuse me. Mary Poppins. NEVER just Mary.
This is not by any means a children's story. Pamela, known as Ginty to her beloved father, has been through a lot of pain, and we see the results onscreen. As she explains to Disney, Mary Poppins is family, and so to have her "cavorting and twinkling" would be completely disrespectful. But viewers learn that for Pamela, and eventually for Disney, the truth comes to light. The film, and its story, isn't about a magical nanny. It's about Mr. Banks--the real one and the fictional one--and the lengths to which Pamela will go to save him, even after his death.
The movie is chock-full of beautiful moments, some absolutely tear-jerking. Of particular note are Pamela and Disney's bonding experiences over "Feed the Birds," Pamela's advice to her driver about his daughter Jane, who has a disability, and Pamela's reaction to the movie premiere. With those come some caveats, such as a lot of drinking and aftermath and one major character's suicide. But for mature kids and adults, this picture is practically perfect.