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5 out of 5
You know the popular ice-breaking question: “If you could have dinner with anyone… living or dead… who would it be?” For me that answer has always been Walt Disney. Many people have come and gone over the years, but no one has been able to replicate the amount of success and… well… awesomeness as Walt Disney. When I heard that the Disney Company was creating a Walt Disney movie based upon the development of Disney’s Mary Poppins – my inner child rejoiced. To my surprise a Walt Disney biopic has never been attempted, this may be the closest that we get into the mastermind behind the Disney corporation for quite some time. But will they drop the ball? Will Tom Hanks even contain an ounce or sliver of Walt’s personality and likeability?
As I stated – this movie is giving us a glimpse behind the buying of Mary Poppins from the author (P.L. Travers). After many attempts and even more years later – the story of Mary Poppins is finally about to have a new home – a home amongst a mouse and a handful of princesses. But only if the author can agree with the outcome – an outcome with NO music and no animation. It’s a fun ride seeing how much each of them (Walt Disney and P.L. Travers) struggled to have it their way.
The cast is a stellar collection of stars – including: Tom Hanks (Walt himself), Emma Thompson (P.L. Travers), Colin Farrell (Travers Goff), Paul Giamatti, and Bradley Whitford. Emma Thompson does a remarkable job as the stubborn writer. Even B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman are a joy as the Sherman brothers (Robert & Richard Sherman). Amazing performances by most – in fact, this quite possibly may be my favorite performance from Colin Farrell.
Not only does this movie give us some insight into the makings of the movie, but some insight into Walt’s life and the early to mid stages of Disney and Disneyland. And as many of you know – I am a Disney and Disneyland freak – so it was beyond enjoyable seeing scenes shot inside of the park (Disneyland).
It’s just a shame that such an amazing movie is brought down by the main actor himself. An Oscar winning and Oscar nominated actor who I thought would make a perfect Walt. An actor that would lose or gain weight based upon which movie he’s filming. Of course I’m talking about Tom Hanks himself. He’s such a genius actor – and that’s why his portrayal is underperformed and frankly insulting to Walt Disney. Not only is he not trying to sound like Walt, but he’s giving Walt Disney a southern accent. Not something you would hear from a man born and raised in the Midwest. Looks wise – he sort of had a similarity to Walt, but at the same time it’s hard to visualize him as Walt while speaking in a southern accent. Tom is such an amazing performer, I expected so much more.
My final thoughts: I know a lot about Walt and Disney, most of the material seen in this movie is either true or close to true. I love how they didn’t hide the fact that Walt Disney was a smoker – being a Disney film I thought for sure they’d try to hold him up on a pedestal. Tom Hanks’ performance is boggling – underperformed and phoned in. But the story is where this film truly shines. It’s a heartwarming story that everyone must see and experience.