He must be thinking, “Daniel Day-Lewis has three. Why not me?” First in October, Tom Hanks has Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips, about the Maersk Alabama’s crew being taken hostage by Somali pirates, which is sure to be a tense and heroic turn for Hanks. And then in December he’s starring as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, the story of the making of Mary Poppins. Disney had a hard time getting the rights from author P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson), and the movie revolves around their relationship and Disney’s efforts to convince her to sell the rights to her book. Is there a more Academy-pleasing sentence than, “Tom Hanks plays Walt Disney opposite Emma Thompson”?
I want to be skeptical about Mr. Banks because it’s Disney producing a movie about Disney so of course Walt will come off like a saint, and the whole project is engineered to be award bait, but…this trailer is goddamned charming. Hanks is particularly twinkly as Disney and Thompson is so stiff-upper-lipped in contrast it’s kind of funny, and they have delightful chemistry together. In two minutes this trailer took Mr. Banks to the top of my “gotta see” list and it’s just to watch those two play off one another.
But the rest of the cast looks pretty stellar, too. Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell, Rachel Griffiths, Jason Schwartzman, BJ Novak—that’s a great lineup. And it looks fun, right? I laughed a couple times, I’m intrigued by the notion of who Mary Poppins “really” was and by Travers in general, and Hanks and Thompson look really good together. This seems like a matchup of two equal actors in good roles working off strong material. That’s always fun to watch. I didn’t know what to expect of Mr. Banks beyond “award bait”, and while it still is that, now I’m thinking it could be a King’s Speech style crowd-pleaser, destined to dominate the box office and award season.
Saving Mr. Banks comes out the weekend before Christmas, which is a big box office holiday. Can you imagine anything more all-around family friendly than Tom Hanks, Walt Disney, Mary Poppins and Emma Thompson? F*ck. This movie will be huge.