Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 46 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 46
  2. Negative: 2 out of 46
  1. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 19, 2013
    88
    Taken on its own, Saving Mr. Banks is a pleasant, crowd-pleasing endeavor. For those with a soft spot for Mary Poppins, however, it's a treasure.
  2. 88
    It was never going to be “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Reserve that honor for the film that inspired it. But Saving Mr. Banks is still one of the best pictures of the year.
  3. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Dec 11, 2013
    83
    Saving Mr. Banks is a wholesomely square film about a wholesomely square film. But damned if its sugar doesn't go down like honey.
  4. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Dec 20, 2013
    80
    Speaking of good storytelling, Hancock knows a thing or two about that. Not only does the "Blind Side" director deftly navigate the double narrative of Saving Mr. Banks, but his film is also a visual treat.
  5. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Dec 18, 2013
    80
    Disney scholars may scoff that it’s not a warts-and-all portrayal of the struggle to bring “Mary Poppins” to the screen, but that seems almost churlish in light of the enthusiasm Hanks brings to the film, or the eventually melting icy facade Thompson puts up.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 12, 2013
    80
    The slick but moving Saving Mr. Banks transcends its corporate pedigree to become a great Disney movie about making a Disney movie.
  7. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    Nov 26, 2013
    80
    The whole thing goes down with a few bucketloads of sugar. What keeps it from becoming sticky schmaltz is Thompson, who plays Travers with wit and warmth, adding a spoonful of spoilt child to help the battleaxe go down.
  8. Reviewed by: Helen O'Hara
    Nov 25, 2013
    80
    This is not a simple story of an uptight English woman induced to loosen up by those freedom-lovin’ Yanks, but a delicate and brilliantly acted story of overcoming the past to embrace an uncertain future. Emma Thompson, in particular, is magic.
  9. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    Oct 20, 2013
    80
    Taken strictly on its own terms, Saving Mr. Banks works exceedingly well as mainstream entertainment.
  10. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Oct 20, 2013
    80
    It’s a bit square, never particularly surprising, yet very rich in its sense of creative people and their spirit of self-reinvention.
  11. Reviewed by: David Gritten
    Oct 20, 2013
    80
    It’s Thompson as the heroically unbiddable Travers who makes the most of it; her bravura performance effectively dominates the film.
  12. Reviewed by: Kate Erbland
    Nov 14, 2013
    79
    There’s charm and delight here, to be sure, but it is occasionally obscured by attempts to make it somehow darker, deeper, and more dramatic.
  13. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Dec 20, 2013
    75
    A fascinating blend of brand extension and corporate history.
  14. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Dec 20, 2013
    75
    Saving Mr. Banks, set in 1961, is smart, delightful.
  15. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Dec 18, 2013
    75
    The most satisfying portions of Saving Mr. Banks occur when the movie adds pinches of salt to the spoonfuls of sugar making this medicine go down.
  16. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 16, 2013
    75
    The screenplay, by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, seamlessly captures two different eras with overlapping story lines that never intrude or confuse.
  17. Reviewed by: Susan Wloszczyna
    Dec 13, 2013
    75
    An intoxicating kiddie cocktail for young-at-heart adults, inspired by a Disney fairy tale based on fact: the making of "Mary Poppins."
  18. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 13, 2013
    75
    Thompson is very good at playing imperious, and she even manages an unexpected trace of flirtiness in a few offhanded moments with Hanks.
  19. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Dec 13, 2013
    75
    Saving Mr. Banks does end in tears, but they're Disney tears, as befits a movie about Disney made by Disney. Which doesn't mean you shouldn't see this beguiling piece of pop storytelling, built on half-truths whipped into shape for a storybook ending that never was.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    Sentiment is at its heart. The legions who grew up on Disney's Mary Poppins will find it delightfully satisfying to hear snippets of its enormously catchy songs and watch its captivating creative journey.
  21. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    Saving Mr. Banks doesn’t always straddle its stories and time periods with the utmost grace. But the film — which John Lee Hancock directed from a script by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith — more than makes up for its occasionally unwieldy structure in telling a fascinating and ultimately deeply affecting story.
  22. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    Because it’s a Hollywood movie from a major corporation looking fondly at itself, it concludes that, while art may heal our psychic wounds, craftsmanship and commerce heal them better.
  23. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    A tasty swig of holiday cheer.
  24. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    This is a lovingly rendered, sweet film.
  25. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    Director Hancock knows a few things about directing crowd-pleasing heartwarmers, having made "The Blind Side." This one wouldn't work without Thompson.
  26. Reviewed by: Ashley Clark
    Oct 20, 2013
    75
    Ultimately, Saving Mr Banks is witty, well-crafted and well-performed mainstream entertainment which, perhaps unavoidably, cleaves to a well-worn Disney template stating that all problems - however psychologically deep-rooted - can be overcome.
  27. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    Oct 20, 2013
    75
    Even if it doesn't quite stick the landing, there's a lot to like here; it's a fundamentally decent, very well-acted and cannily written film.
  28. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Dec 16, 2013
    70
    The director is John Lee Hancock, who does what he did with “The Blind Side,” where he commandeered a true and jagged tale, tidied up the trauma, and made sure that everyone lived sappily ever after. Sandra Bullock carried the day then, and now Emma Thompson repeats the process.
  29. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 12, 2013
    70
    Edges have been softened, harshness has been transformed into happiness sprinkled with eccentricity. And the paradox, of course, is that we're glad to be seduced. As Disney films go, this is a good one.
  30. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Dec 12, 2013
    70
    It’s a highly enjoyable picture.
  31. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 12, 2013
    70
    Saving Mr. Banks does not strictly hew to the historical record where the eventual resolution of this conflict is concerned, but it is easy to accept this fictionalizing as part of the price to be paid for Thompson's engaging performance.
  32. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Dec 19, 2013
    67
    Director John Lee Hancock and screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith spend about a third of the film exploring Travers’ childhood in Australia, and there the film succeeds.
  33. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 12, 2013
    60
    The best parts of Saving Mr. Banks offer an embellished, tidied-up but nonetheless reasonably authentic glimpse of the Disney entertainment machine at work.
  34. Reviewed by: Genevieve Koski
    Dec 10, 2013
    60
    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.
  35. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Dec 10, 2013
    60
    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.
  36. Reviewed by: Paul Bradshaw
    Nov 29, 2013
    60
    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.
  37. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Oct 20, 2013
    60
    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.
  38. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Dec 19, 2013
    50
    Saving Mr. Banks is two movies crammed into one cumbersome, overlong drama.
  39. Reviewed by: Steve Davis
    Dec 18, 2013
    50
    The saving quality here is Thompson’s performance as the prickly Travers.
  40. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Dec 12, 2013
    50
    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.
  41. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Dec 12, 2013
    50
    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.
  42. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Dec 11, 2013
    50
    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.
  43. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Dec 10, 2013
    50
    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.
  44. Reviewed by: Amy Nicholson
    Dec 10, 2013
    40
    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.
  45. Reviewed by: Nick McCarthy
    Dec 6, 2013
    38
    A tale of memory and redemption that does little to linger in the mind and even less to decry P.L. Travers's claim that Disney turns everything it touches into schmaltz.
  46. 30
    A fair number of people have responded with tears and laughs to Saving Mr. Banks, but I found it interminable.
User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 215 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 53 out of 56
  2. Negative: 1 out of 56
  1. Dec 23, 2013
    8
    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 »
  2. Dec 13, 2013
    9
    In the end, Saving Mr. Banks does what few historical pieces are able to: it both informs and transforms our impression of something we thought we knew, while simultaneously reinforcing what we’ve always loved about it or better yet, it provides new intrigue to those who may not have loved it in the first (I speak personally, in this case). As far as holiday season movies go, this is a solid bet for that feel-good family film, despite the fact that it contains some heavier (but worthwhile) dramatic elements. Another winner for Hanks in 2013. Full Review »
  3. Jan 13, 2014
    1
    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 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 »