Generally favorable reviews - based on 46 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 46
  2. Negative: 2 out of 46

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Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 12, 2013
    The best parts of Saving Mr. Banks offer an embellished, tidied-up but nonetheless reasonably authentic glimpse of the Disney entertainment machine at work.
  2. Reviewed by: Genevieve Koski
    Dec 10, 2013
    Those willing or prone to buy into the idea of “Disney Magic” are likely to choke up at least once or twice over the course of Saving Mr. Banks, while those who resist it—the Traverses of the world—will choke on the heaping spoonfuls of sugar the film ladles onto its story.
  3. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Dec 10, 2013
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Paul Bradshaw
    Nov 29, 2013
    Hanks takes to Walt like a pair of cosy slippers, but it’s Thompson who adds layers to a classy but predictable slice of Disney schmaltz.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Oct 20, 2013
    Saving Mr Banks is an indulgent, overlong picture which is always on the verge of becoming a mess. Thankfully, reliable old Tom Hanks snaps his fingers and – spit, spot – everything more or less gets cleared away.
  6. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Dec 19, 2013
    Saving Mr. Banks is two movies crammed into one cumbersome, overlong drama.
  7. Reviewed by: Steve Davis
    Dec 18, 2013
    The saving quality here is Thompson’s performance as the prickly Travers.
  8. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Dec 12, 2013
    Certainly, this imagineered version of P.L. Travers’s life provides an orderly drama, but it’s uncomfortably reductive. It may be a small world, after all, but it comes in a lot more shades than Saving Mr. Banks suggests.
  9. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 12, 2013
    The film is too intelligent and well-crafted to dismiss and too good to hate. Some people will love it, and at worst, most people will like it a little.
  10. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Dec 11, 2013
    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. One woman’s failed battle to stop her work from being Disneyfied has itself been Disneyfied.
  11. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 10, 2013
    Except for a couple of isolated, mildly subversive moments, Hanks is basically playing the genial host of “The Wonderful World of Disney’’ rather than an actual person.
  12. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Dec 10, 2013
    Saving Mr. Banks, a fictionalized account of two weeks Travers spent on the lot in Burbank, is proof that Walt has thawed and secretly reclaimed Disney's reins.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 261 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 52 out of 62
  2. Negative: 1 out of 62
  1. Jan 13, 2014
    This was the most boring movie I've seen in years. I. Never thought I'd be like my father and fall asleep in movie theaters. But in this caseThis was the most boring movie I've seen in years. I. Never thought I'd be like my father and fall asleep in movie theaters. But in this case yes I was literally falling asleep. The woman character was so irritating you find yourself wondering why Walt Disney didn't just kick her out of his office the first day, instead of tolerating her incessant whining for weeks. I recommend not seeing it and don't even bother renting it later. Full Review »
  2. Dec 26, 2013
    This is a fabulous charming Disney film that does Mary Poppins justice. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson give top notch performances and theThis is a fabulous charming Disney film that does Mary Poppins justice. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson give top notch performances and the supporting cast are pitch perfect as well. Full Review »
  3. Dec 23, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Comes just in advance of the film’s fiftieth anniversary is the story behind one of Walt Disney’s most beloved pictures, Mary Poppins (1964), 4), and negotiations between Disney and the author of the original books, P. L. Travers.

    If history is written by the victors, then there’s bound to be bias when the Disney Company tells a tale surrounding their beloved Uncle Walt, but the film portrays the powerful personalities of Travers and Disney as equal in strength and single mindedness. Ultimately, both are flawed.

    Tom Hanks has had a good year, appearing recently in the critically acclaimed Captain Phillips. As Walt Disney, he appeals to Travers with a promise he made to his daughters: that he would adapt their favourite book for the silver screen. He claims Travers’ creations are as much his family as hers, but at heart, he is a shrewd businessman, and a man who is absolutely used to getting what he wants.

    Travers (Emma Thompson, who has experience starring as her own magical governess in Nanny McPhee) views the art of film and the fantasies of Disney with utter contempt, and has spent twenty years vehemently denying him the rights to her work. But financial constraints force her hand and she agrees to fly to California, where pre-production is already well underway, to finally hammer out a compromise.

    While the clash of two big characters is enough for a solid story, Saving Mr. Banks is an ensemble piece. The cast rounded out with Travers’ good natured chauffer Ralph (Paul Giamatti) providing her introduction to American culture, and Disney’s team: scriptwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and songwriters Richard (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert Sherman (B. J. Novak).

    Much of the humour in the film comes from Travers’ altercations with DaGradi and the Sherman Brothers as they edit the script and score. Travers’ is infinitely insufferable, rejecting their suggestions outright, frowning in disapproval at their songs, and chiding them for lack of manners when they attempt an informal atmosphere.

    One stipulation she makes is to record all of their meetings. These were used extensively as source material by the film makers and an authentic excerpt from one of these tapes which plays over the end credits reveals just how accurate Thompsons’s portrayal is Travers really was that overbearing.

    As a period piece, the film indulges in the meticulously portrayed eras of early ‘60s Hollywood, and turn of the century Australia. Here, flashbacks to Travers’ youth and her father (Colin Farell), a struggling alcoholic bank manager, reveal the reasons behind her haughty demeanour, and the inspirations for her novels. With Mary Poppins, she gave the Banks’ family a redemption that her own life never had.

    The film is unashamedly saccharine at times. Travers is not alone: every character, from Ralph to Robert Sherman to Disney himself, has a tale of hardship to tug at the heartstrings. The audience is played like a fiddle by director John Lee who knows a little about strung out sentimentality from his previous film, The Blind Side (2009). The film is long, clocking in at just over two hours, but is well paced, and does not feel especially bloated.

    Naturally, a certain amount of knowledge and appreciation for Mary Poppins is required for this film to mean anything. While I am no Travers biographer, I’m aware that some elements of her personal life have been streamlined, or indeed omitted, to make them more cinematic.

    The bare bones are the truth, and are indeed a powerful story. The biggest difference is that although she allowed it to be filmed, Travers never came around, and hated the Disney film for the rest of her life.
    Full Review »