So in my continued quest to see the huge number of quality movies released in the last few weeks (seriously, why does every good movie have to get released in December? I mean, I know why, but I just wish the quality was spread out), my wife and I caught “Saving Mr. Banks” this weekend.
And what I kept thinking as I watched this pretty good, but could’ve been great, flick, was this: I have totally been sold a bill of goods on this one.
I’m not naive in the ways of Hollywood marketing. I understand that sometimes the promotions and PR people at movie studios have to “sell” a movie a certain way, to appeal to as large an audience as possible. But man, you could NOT mislead potential filmgoers any more than the “Saving Mr. Banks” people did. All the trailers, all the commercials, tout this puppy as a feel-good, light, crowd-pleasing movie about Walt Disney’s quest to convince a stuffy British author to allow her fabulous “Mary Poppins” series to be made into a film.
And yet, this is SO not what the movie is. I mean, yes, that is the premise, but the movie is SO much darker, and so much grimmer and mirth-less (is that a word?) than I expected.
First, the stuff I liked: Emma Thompson plays Travers brilliantly, acerbic and hilarious in her awful treatment of others. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, charming and graceful. And Paul Giamatti is always a delight, and here you’re reminded of how good an actor he is.
But this movie had problems. Biggest among them was the huge amount of flashbacks to Travers’ childhood, and how every single thing in the movie was symbolic of something else. There must’ve been 25 flashback scenes, no joke, when a half-dozen would’ve conveyed the same point: Travers has some scars from her childhood relationship with her parents. We get it.
I also thought they made some of the supporting players a little too cartoonish, and the movie went on 15-20 minutes too long.
Still, the acting of Hanks and Thompson is so good, that in the end I recommend seeing it if you haven’t yet.
But do NOT go in thinking it’s going to be a light comedy. Bring a flashlight, there’s some darkness up there on the screen.
**Next up, these videos always crack me up, when an athletic team made up mostly of young black men get their stodgy old white coach to dance in the locker room after a big win.
Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel, you get down with your bad self…
**Finally, what a terrific sports weekend it was. Three of four NFL playoff games were stellar (thanks for showing up, Andy Dalton), I saw a few awesome college hoops games (my Dukies got upset at Notre Dame and looked really weak inside, but I’m not panicking yet), and even my Rangers got a big-time win.
Some thoughts from the gridiron action:
— Life as a Kansas City Chiefs fan: Not fun. To blow a 38-10 second-half lead is unthinkable. But Andrew Luck and the Colts were fantastic in the final 2 quarters, they got a big-time break on that fumble/touchdown by Luck, and KC’s defense, in the words of Bart Scott, couldn’t stop a nosebleed. Just an all-time brutal loss. Poor Chiefs fans; we Jets feel your pain (my favorite reaction was from e-migo Matt R., who Tweeted me: “Gonna go watch “Schindler’s List” to try to cheer up.”)
— Eagles should have won Saturday night; they’re the better team. But good for Drew Brees to finally shut up his critics about his record in outdoor playoff games.
— Man that was fun, watching Green Bay and San Fran beat the snot out of each other in sub-zero Lambeau. Those players going sleeve-less? Insane. Mucho respect to Frank Gore and the Niners for pulling out that win.
–Next weekend could give us two classic games: I think Carolina-San Francisco will be terrific, and Indy-New England will be lots of fun. I see Denver and Seattle easily winning their games, though.