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Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks are two of today’s best actors. Whatever role they play, they do it justice. Such is the case in Thompson’s portrayal of the author of “Mary Poppins,” P.L. Travers, and Hanks’ portrayal of Walt Disney.
The problem is that Travers is a real pain in the neck. She is an old sourpuss whose past has made her bitter, sad and often quite obnoxious. After a while, her character grates on you, and waiting for her redemption becomes tedious.
Hanks gives a convincing performance as Disney, but Hollywood legend is kind of a stiff in his own right. Walt’s lifetime dream is to convince Travers to sell him the rights to turn her popular children’s book into a Disney classic feature film.
All this takes place in the early ’50s, with numerous flashbacks to Travers’ childhood in Australia in the early 1900s, living in a family with an alcoholic father (Colin Farrell) who she adores. He is the Mr. Banks in the title.
There are constant conflicts with the writers and Disney himself, as Travers fights them at every turn. No dancing penguins. No songs. No nonsense words. No animation. She doesn’t even want the color red in any scenes.
Paul Giamatti gives a nice performance as Travers’ limo driver. She is cold and crude to him, but he becomes her only true Hollywood friend.
It is an interesting story with some poetic licenses taken. While we felt sympathy for Travers as we learned about her childhood, we still found her hard to take.
Rated PG-13, with little to be concerned about.