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Saving Mr. Banks Reviews

Wesley Morris
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The whole thing leaves you with an appalling chill. It feels like a warning from Hollywood to the ambivalent creators of anything: Take the spoonful of sugar or we'll force-feed it to you.

Full Review Source: Grantland

January 3, 2014
Gail Pennington
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Pencil Thompson in now for an Oscar nomination, and maybe a win, and prepare to leave the theater humming the iconic songs.

Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Original Score: 3/4

December 20, 2013
Tom Long
Detroit News
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The sap doesn't run too thick, although it does run, and the movie certainly has a patented Disney upbeat feel much of the time. It's more a spoonful of sugar than medicine for aging baby boomer's souls.

Full Review Source: Detroit News | Original Score: B

December 20, 2013
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Smart, delightful.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3/4

December 20, 2013
David Thomson
The New Republic
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Saving Mr Banks is a merciless film. It hits you with every sentimental low blow it can think of. Then it pounds you again. And when you're down, it jumps on you.

Full Review Source: The New Republic

December 19, 2013
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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"Saving Mr. Banks" is a shameless wad of corporate PR, a feel-good, self-serving Disney film about the making of a Disney film.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 2/4

December 19, 2013
James Berardinelli
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The movie avoids commonplace traps; it never becomes maudlin and it doesn't transform Travers into a likeable elderly lady whose heart of gold is camouflaged by crotchetiness.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 19, 2013
Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
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Beneath Banks' crass self-aggrandizement lies a pretty charming portrait of two overly proud people butting creative heads. Yes, charming. That's what Disney does, and it does it well enough to turn even this condescending pap into something palatable.

Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News | Original Score: B-

December 19, 2013
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
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Most people will come away from Saving Mr. Banks feeling like they just sat through a feature-length ad for the magic of Walt Disney, with P.L. Travers' life tacked on as an afterthought.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 2/4

December 19, 2013
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
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A good movie, buoyed by good performances from Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and, almost as an afterthought, an especially affecting Colin Farrell.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 4/5

December 18, 2013
Rex Reed
New York Observer
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The screenplay, by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, seamlessly captures two different eras with overlapping story lines that never intrude or confuse.

Full Review Source: New York Observer | Original Score: 3/4

December 18, 2013
Richard Roeper
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This film works as its own lovingly rendered story.

Full Review Source: Richard | Original Score: 4/5

December 17, 2013
Anthony Lane
New Yorker
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Just as Mary rescued the wilting Banks family, so Thompson saves the film. A spoonful of her medicine makes the sugar go down.

Full Review Source: New Yorker

December 16, 2013
Dana Stevens
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For a movie that's all about what a swell idea it was to adapt Mary Poppins for the screen, Saving Mr. Banks seems remarkably uninterested in what made the movie special.

Full Review Source: Slate

December 13, 2013
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
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Thompson is very good at playing imperious, and she even manages an unexpected trace of flirtiness in a few offhanded moments with Hanks.

Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Original Score: B

December 13, 2013
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
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I found it interminable.

Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture

December 13, 2013
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
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The picture finally succeeds as the kind of fantasy that its two main characters consorted in, individually and, on one project, together.

Full Review Source: TIME Magazine

December 13, 2013
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
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A desperately Oscar-hungry contrivance whose only hope lies with the terrific Thompson.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger | Original Score: 2/4

December 13, 2013
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
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"Saving Mr. Banks" wraps a seduction inside a seduction with enjoyable results. It's a Disney film in every sense of the term.

Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal

December 12, 2013
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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Nobody plays huffy like Thompson, who seems to sniff with her entire body; she's wonderfully funny against Hanks' effusive Disney.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

December 12, 2013
Claudia Puig
USA Today
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Travers would have despised it. For the rest of us it's an entertaining, affecting, deftly acted saga, interspersed with illustrative flashbacks from Travers' childhood.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 3/4

December 12, 2013
Ella Taylor
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Like the Mary Poppins film Disney would eventually serve up, Saving Mr. Banks is an affable, enjoyable spoonful of sugar that sweetens into palatability the sinus-clearing bite of the books - and the implacable iron lady who wrote them.

Full Review Source: NPR

December 12, 2013
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
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Saving Mr. Banks is hard to beat as holiday entertainment. Endure the dull melodrama, and give thanks that the sugar in the rest of the film is doled out by the spoonful, not the shovelful.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 3/4

December 12, 2013
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
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Thanks to Thompson and Hanks, this movie about the making of a movie hits the sweet spot. There's magic in it.

Full Review Source: Rolling Stone | Original Score: 3/4

December 12, 2013
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
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Even with Thompson's delectably dyspeptic portrayal of Travers, she'd be a difficult protagonist to root for, were it not for the back story of "Mary Poppins" that "Saving Mr. Banks" is really about.

Full Review Source: Washington Post | Original Score: 3/4

December 12, 2013
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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"Saving Mr. Banks" is extremely canny and often great fun, primarily in the scenes in which Travers locks horns with the Disney-ites.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3/4

December 12, 2013
Chris Nashawaty
Entertainment Weekly
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There's something a little incestuous about a studio making a movie about one of its greatest box office triumphs. But Disney's backstage drama about how its whimsical 1964 kids' classic Mary Poppins came to be is a delight.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B+

December 12, 2013
Rafer Guzman
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What makes "Saving Mr. Banks" work is Thompson in a wonderful, nuanced performance that walks a fine line between villain and heroine.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 3/4

December 12, 2013
Michael Sragow
Orange County Register
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It's enthralling fun to watch Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) focus his charm and instinct on flinty British novelist P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) as he campaigns to film her Mary Poppins.

Full Review Source: Orange County Register | Original Score: B

December 12, 2013
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
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Rest assured that, by the end, a little pixie dust will solve everything.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

December 12, 2013
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
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If "Saving Mr. Banks" were 100 percent false and yet felt true, that would be fine. But this has the self-conscious whiff, if not of mendacity, then of public relations.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

December 12, 2013
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
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The slick but moving "Saving Mr. Banks" transcends its corporate pedigree to become a great Disney movie about making a Disney movie.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 4/5

December 12, 2013
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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The sharper edges of the Disney/Travers relationship, well-documented by various sources, have been rounded off, but the actors suggest what they can, where they can.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 3/4

December 12, 2013
A.O. Scott
New York Times
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The best parts of "Saving Mr. Banks" offer an embellished, tidied-up but nonetheless reasonably authentic glimpse of the Disney entertainment machine at work.

Full Review Source: New York Times

December 12, 2013
A.A. Dowd
AV Club
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The irony of Saving Mr. Banks is that it takes this true story of Hollywood conflict, of artistic integrity pitted against studio moxie, and gives it the same warm-and-fuzzy treatment the company gave Poppins.

Full Review Source: AV Club | Original Score: C

December 12, 2013
Andrew O'Hehir
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A sneakily effective work of manipulation that should charm family audiences through the holiday season and beyond.

Full Review Source:

December 11, 2013
Amy Nicholson
L.A. Weekly
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In a Hollywood where men still pen 85% of all films, there's something sour in a movie that roots against a woman who asserted her artistic control by asking to be a co-screenwriter.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly | Original Score: C-

December 11, 2013
Tony Hicks
San Jose Mercury News
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Even if this comes off like an ad for Disney, it's convincing and contains some of Disney's patented magic -- especially with a predictable, yet effective, emotional ending.

Full Review Source: San Jose Mercury News | Original Score: 3/4

December 11, 2013
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out New York
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Saving Mr. Banks turns Travers's tense collaboration with Walt and his team of Imagineers into -- naturally -- a schmaltzy journey of closure, climaxing in a teary screening of the finished musical.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 3/5

December 11, 2013
Jake Coyle
Associated Press
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Just as Travers is eventually won over by her Hollywood adversaries, the strong sentimental pull of ''Saving Mr. Banks'' overwhelms, too.

Full Review Source: Associated Press | Original Score: 3/4

December 11, 2013
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
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"Saving Mr. Banks'' is ultimately much less about magic than making the sale, in more ways than one.

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 2/4

December 10, 2013
Leslie Felperin
Hollywood Reporter
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An affecting if somewhat soft-soaped comedy drama, elevated by excellent performances.

Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter

December 9, 2013
Cath Clarke
Time Out
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The whole thing goes down with a few bucketloads of sugar. What keeps it from becoming sticky schmaltz is Emma Thompson, who plays Travers with wit and warmth.

Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 4/5

November 26, 2013
Kate Erbland
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Earmarked as a masterpiece, but it doesn't fully deliver on its promise.

Full Review Source: | Original Score: 7.9/10

November 14, 2013
Alonso Duralde
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What could have merely been a studio's love letter to itself winds up being a meditation on the power that art has for artists as a way to exorcise the past.

Full Review Source: TheWrap

November 6, 2013
Scott Foundas
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Somewhere, Uncle Walt is smiling.

Full Review Source: Variety

October 21, 2013
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