Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie – Movie Review

Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie (2014)

Cast: Brendan O’Carroll, Jennifer Gibney, Eilish O’Carroll, Danny O’Carroll, Fiona O’Carroll, Paddy Houlihan, Gary Hollywood, Jimmy Gibney, Dermot O’Neill, Pat Shields, Amanda Woods, Dermot Crowley, Robert Bathurst & Simon Delaney

Writer: Brendan O’Carroll

Director: Ben Kellett

Viewed: Saturday 09 August 2014 @ Event Cinemas Glendale, Newcastle.

Since premiering in 2011, the (newer) Mrs. Brown’s Boys TV show has rocketed in popularity. Three seasons, Christmas specials and a sell-out international live show tour later and we find ourselves with the inevitable film. Being a big fan and having seen all the aforementioned editions in the Mrs. Brown saga, I was looking forward to this big screen adventure. How foolish I was.

D'Poster

D’Poster

Agnes Brown’s (Brendan O’Carroll, Agnes Browne – a completely unrelated movie from 1999 directed by and starring Angelica Huston based on a novel written by O’Carroll) family has been running a market fruit stall on Dublin’s Moore Street for two centuries, but that is threatened when a local politician/businessman (Dermot Crowley, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi) teams up with the Russian mob to close down all the stalls and develop a shopping center on the site. Mrs. Brown doesn’t intend to go down without a fight, but the realisation that she may owe millions in unpaid taxes makes the fight that much harder. With the help of her family and friends Mrs Brown attempts to prove her innocence and save the markets.

I don’t have many positives to say about this. It’s a pretty miserable experience. It starts off well enough. There’s an amusing voiceover from Mrs Brown before the film commences welcoming the audience which is followed by a fun scene involving an alarm clock and Grandad Brown (Dermot O’Neill) that feels very much like the TV show we know and love. After this though there is a scene where Mrs. Brown leaves her house to head to her market stall, walking out the front door on to an obvious set (so far, so usual), but then she pulls down the backdrop to reveal a real location shot proclaiming “This shouldn’t be here, it’s D’Movie!” It’s from then on that everything that makes the TV show so great is completely missing.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie tries too hard to be too big and falls flat on its face. It tries. It tries hard to be funny but fails miserably. There are a couple of chuckles stretched over its 90 minute run time but no real laughs. The closest it gets is during outtakes over the end credits. It’s a sad, sad thing when your credits are more enjoyable than your movie. It, inexplicably, tries really hard to be racist. There’s a character named Rab Patel (Raj Ghatak, Birthday Girl) who is repeatedly referred to as being Jamaican and an Asian ninja instructor named Mr Cheng played by….Brendan O’Carroll squinting his eyes and swapping his L’s and R’s. It’s the most racist thing I’ve seen in a movie in a looooooooong time. It’s embarrassing. Towards the end of the proceedings O’Carroll’s script tries hard to add some of the sentiment that is so often present in the TV show, but everything that has come before has been so tedious, or mean, or such a new development (when has a market stall ever been mentioned before?) that we can’t suddenly just be asked to feel for these characters.

The Mrs. Brown’s Boys formula is obviously not suited for the movie treatment. On TV it is a small show with small sets, a small cast and big heart. In cinemas it is a big show with big sets, a HUGE cast and no heart at all. O’Carroll has completely missed the mark on what millions of people around the world love about his character. I don’t understand how he could have gotten it so horribly wrong. For all these reasons I give Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie 1 Rant and Rave point.

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Cast: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillian, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reiley, Benicio Del Toro & Glenn Close

Writers: James Gunn & Nicole Perlman

Director: James Gunn

Viewed: Friday 01 August 2014 @ Event Cinemas Glendale, Newcastle.

“Comic book movies” are taking over the cinematic world. With major studies locking in multiple release dates per year for their money-printing commodities up to 2019, barely three months seems to go by before we are back at the cinemas seeing a superhero (or two, or five) on the screen. Up until now though, it’s mainly been the reliable, well-known heroes being brought back again and again. That changes with Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel is taking a gamble with a set of characters many of us have never heard of, and it’s one that pays off in spades.

What a bunch of A-holes

What a bunch of A-holes

When Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, Delivery Man), who was taken from Earth as a boy and raised by a gang of space scavengers, comes into possession of a mysterious MacGuffin orb, he unwittingly becomes the target of the evil Ronan (Lee Pace, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug) who needs to trade the orb with Thanos (Josh Brolin, No Country for Old Men) for the destruction of a planet against which Ronan wants revenge, as well as Ronan’s minion (and Thanos’ adopted daughter) Gamora (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek Into Darkness) who might not be exactly what she seems, and a couple of bounty hunters, Rocket the raccoon (Bradley Cooper, American Hustle) and Groot the tree (Vin Diesel, Pitch Black). When Quill, Gamora, Rocket and Groot end up in prison together they form an uneasy alliance, along with Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista, Riddick) to escape and sell the orb to The Collector (Benicio Del Toro, Sin City). As the newly formed team travel across the galaxy they attempt to keep the orb, and themselves, from the clutches of evil all while learning that sometimes you find family in the most unlikely of places .

It’s officially. 2014 is the year of Marvel Studios. With the release of their two greatest movies to date, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and now Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel is smashing the competition out of the park. Everything about this film is fantastic. Amazing. Is it Marvel’s BEST movie though? In its own way, definitely. It’s certainly the funniest. It has the best soundtrack. It has the best character development. It has the most evil villain. It has the most heart. Everything seems to have been executed exactly as it should have been. There wasn’t a moment when I thought something should or could have been done differently. It also works at a tremendous pace. Savour the opening five minutes on Earth because they are the calmest (and most solemn). You’ll spend the next two hours blasting through space and blasting through storyline. From the opening credits the laughs and the action never let up. So much happens and it’s all great stuff. Pratt’s introduction as Star-Lord, the scene where the four main characters first meet, the escape from prison, the establishing of Ronan as a formidable enemy, the tying in to the greater Marvel Universe including our first, small sample of Brolin as Thanos, the feat of bringing different worlds and species across the galaxy to life, the pop-culture references which are already dated so they’ll never seem dated, the moments of beauty and heart (especially towards the end, such as when Groot’s true talents shine). It’s all perfectly done.

Director/writer James Gunn (Super) and co-writer Nicole Perlman have truly worked magic in the way they have taken these characters I, and many others I’m sure, didn’t know and were very unsure of (come on, a tree?!) when hearing about this movie and created my favourite Marvel film of them all so far. If I’m completely honest I think I’m more excited about seeing these guys in another adventure than I am about seeing The Avengers assemble again. That’s saying something. For all these reasons I give Guardians of the Galaxy 5 Rant and Rave points.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – Movie Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Cast: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell & Kodi Smit-McPhee

Writers: Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver

Director: Matt Reeves

Viewed: Monday 21 August 2014 @ Event Cinemas Glendale, Newcastle.

The Planet of the Apes franchise has a long and checkered history. The original 1968 movie is a classic but, as is often the case, each subsequent sequel got worse and worse. The 2001 reboot/remake by Tim Burton is universally reviled (rightly so) and better off forgotten. Then 2011 brought us yet another reboot in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and we finally got the first film worth of carrying on the legacy started over four decades previously. Now the second reboot gets a sequel. Will it find itself associated with the more positive entries in the Apes series, or just another entry on the seemingly endless list of forgettable entries?

Is whiteface still racist on a monkey?

Is whiteface still racist on a monkey?

Ten years after the events of Rise, the “Alzheimer’s cure”, now know as the simian flu, that escaped the labs of Gen-Sys has wiped out most of the human population on Earth (some rather nifty opening credits depict this). Apes however, led by Caesar (Andy Serkis, King Kong), have prospered and made a home for themselves in the woods outside San Francisco (we get no clues as to how apes from anywhere else in the world are doing) where they have been developing their language skills, becoming more educated, raising families and becoming a tight-knit community. Meanwhile, a group of genetically immune, human survivors, including leader, Dreyfus (Gary Oldman, The Dark Knight), Malcolm (Jason Clark, Zero Dark Thirty), Ellie (Kerri Russell, Mission Impossible III) and Malcolm’s son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Let Me In) are holed up inside San Francisco but on the verge of running out of the fuel that feeds their power source, so they need to repair the local dam…which just happens to be located inside the Apes’ domain. Now the humans and apes must learn to trust each other to avoid a war, which could end in the extinction of either or both species.

I’ve read that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is being described as the Empire Strike’s Back of the franchise. This is simply not true. It’s a decent movie, certainly the best sequel the series has seen, but I don’t think it’s better than Rise in any way. First of all there’s the leading man. I’m all for Aussie’s making it big in Hollywood, but Shane Clark is no James Franco. In fact all the human characters are pretty dull and underdeveloped. Gary Oldman is always dependable but he only has a handful of scenes and does little more than, annoyingly, yell into a megaphone. As for Keri Russell, her character could have almost been completely cut without making much of an impact on the final film. I understand that the main draw of this movie is supposed to be seeing how the apes have progressed since everything that happened in Rise, be we still need interesting human characters we can relate to. They’re not present here. Instead we’re given cliché characters with a throwaway line or two about each of their past lives that is supposed to make us care about them. It doesn’t work.

Then there are the apes, who are thankfully given much more development as we spend much more time with them (all the important players are also given individual external markings that are handy when trying to distinguish who is who, like Caesar’s son Blue Eyes who gets some large scars across his chest in the opening scene, his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer, Carrie) who wears a headpiece and his right-hand-ape Koba (Toby Kebbell, RocknRolla) who you’ll remember from Rise as the one-eyed, menacing lab-chimp who first releases the virus). The 10 year jump works well in that we get to see them in a place where they have evolved enough to speak occasionally (they communicate amongst themselves mostly using sign language, at the beginning of the movie anyway. Their speech seems to improve considerably towards the end), build what is essentially an ape city and creating their own set of laws to live by in an attempt not to become too much like the humans who treated them (mostly), and each other so badly and ultimately created a virus that led to their own demise. This without them having yet completely evolved into the half man/half ape beings of the original movies. The film is at its most interesting when we are spending time with the apes without any human interference. The big problem with the apes is that the CGI is often so bad that they often look as bad as those half man/half ape beings from the 1960’s. That might be an over exaggeration but they’re certainly a step down from Rise. Perhaps because there are just so many of them now and so many CGI shots needed that the budget wasn’t sufficient. There is a scene where a baby chimp is climbing over a couple of the human actors and it is so terribly fake they may as well have just left the tennis ball on a stick that the actors were so obviously actually interacting with in the shot.

None of this means I didn’t enjoy the movie. I did. I just didn’t find it to be the cinematic masterpiece that some seem to be lauding it as. The story it tells is an interesting one and feels like a natural next step after Rise. There are a few LOL moments, a few genuinely tense moments and a few naaawww cute moments. It just has its flaws and is very uneven. A small example of this is during the climatic battle where the tension of hundreds of apes advancing on the human compound is quickly replaced with ridiculouslessness as we witness Koba on a galloping horse maniacally wielding two machine guns. It’s misplaced silliness in what is an otherwise mostly serious movie. Oh, and the 3D is utterly pointless (there is not a single instance where it is warranted. Save yourself the extra $ and stick to 2D). Still, I am looking forward to a few years time when we get Mid-Morning, or Brunch or High Noon of the Planet of the Apes. For all these reasons I give Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 3 ½ Rant and Rave points.

Be sure to head over and read my friend Doctor Ry’s review here.

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The Fault in Our Stars (2014) – Movie Review

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Nat Wolfe & Willem Dafoe

Writers: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber

Director: Josh Boone

Viewed: Wednesday 16 July 2014 @ Event Cinemas Glendale, Newcastle.

The Fault in Our Stars instantly became a favourite book of mine as soon as I read it last year. Great characters, great dialogue and great writing (something that is sorely lacking from much of popular literature these days) and a lack of supernatural creatures made it stand out among the over-abundance of “young adult” fiction that has been hitting the shelves over the last few years. Author, John Green truly created something special. The combination of my love for its source, how impressed I was with Ansel Elgort in the otherwise mediocre Carrie remake last year (you can read me gush about him here), and my interest in seeing Shailene Woodley and Elgort go from playing siblings to lovers in movies released just months apart, made this film one of my most anticipated of 2014. I couldn’t wait. It stands to reason then that university exams, illness and moving to a different State meant I didn’t get to see it until its final day of screening at my new local cinema.

#foreheadbreathing

#foreheadbreathing

When Hazel (Woodley, Divergent), suffering thyroid cancer and needing to be constantly fed oxygen through nose tubes, meets Gus (Elgort), in remission from osteosarcoma after having a leg amputated, at a cancer support group, there is an instant attraction between the two teenagers who share a tendency for using big words and a sharp wit. When Hazel introduces Gus to her favourite book “An Imperial Affliction” they soon share a passion for the story and a burning desire to know more about the characters from one-hit-wonder-author, Peter Van Houten (Willem Dafoe, The Grand Budapest Hotel). The two are soon inseparable, bound for Amsterdam, and set to experience love, disappointment, heartbreak…and maybe even oblivion.

What can I say? This is the film adaptation all book lovers ask for. It’s extremely faithful to its source with all your favourite characters and scenes jumping for the page to the screen. Time is taken to develop the characters and the acting is stellar throughout, with special mentions to Laura Dern (Jurassic Park) as Hazel’s mum and Nat Wolff (New Year’s Eve, though I’m trying not to hold that against him, a guy’s gotta eat, right?) as fellow cancer sufferer, Isaac. The two leads have great chemistry and their love is convincing (to quote the popular internet meme: Still a better love story than Twilight). The ending is inevitable, yet tragic and real. I have a lot of praise for this one and only one criticism, just a small one: the dialogue doesn’t work as well on the big screen as it does on the written page. It’s not as if it is clunky or terrible, it’s just that the way these teenagers speak isn’t what you generally hear in real life and somehow their thoughts, feelings and comments work better when you’re reading them than when you are hearing them. It in no way sullied my enjoyment of watching the movie though.

If you love a romance, or a comedy, or a tearjerker, or a feel-good story, then this one is for you. It has a bit of everything for everyone. It is surprisingly funny, something you might not expect from a movie where the two leads have cancer. You’ll LOL, you’ll TUM (Tear Up Majorly. Start using it. It’s the next big thing, I promise). It is also surprisingly uplifting. You’ll leave with red eyes, but also a smile on your face. For all these reasons I give The Fault in our Stars 4 ½ Rant and Rave points.

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Last Vegas (2013) – Movie Review

Last Vegas (2013)

Cast: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, Mary Steenburgen, Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco, Roger Bart, Joanna Gleason, Michael Ealy

Writer: Dan Fogelman

Director: Jon Turteltaub

Viewed: Wednesday 19 February 2014 @ Event Cinemas Myer Centre, Brisbane.

Well colour me surprised. Recently, gathering a group of “big name” stars for a comedy hasn’t always meant great results (I’m talking about you Valentine’s Day & New Year’s Eve). Then there is the fact that De Niro has been in some truly terrible films over the last few years, Freeman spent most of 2013 phoning in his performances, and I can’t remember the last time I saw Douglas or Kline in anything, let alone something good (yes, I know Douglas has Behind the Candelabra, but I haven’t seen it so my statement stands). Understandably, I had low expectations heading in to Last Vegas, and I was pleased beyond belief to have them greatly exceeded.

Legend...wait for it...

Legend…wait for it…

When Billy (Douglas, The Game) proposes to his less-than-half-his-age girlfriend (Bre Blair, Quarintine 2: Terminal) while delivering a eulogy at a friend’s funeral, his best friends of the last 60 years decide to throw him a bachelor weekend in Vegas. There are some long simmering tensions in the group but Sam (Kline, Wild Wild West) wants to escape his wife (Gleason, Sex and the City) who he is bored with, Archie (Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption) wants to escape his overbearing son (Ealy, Underworld: Awakening), and Paddy (De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook) wants to escape his empty apartment after the death of his wife a year earlier, so they all end up in the city of sin. There they meet lounge singer Diana (Steenburgen, Step Brothers), confront issues from the past and present, and “party like it’s 1959”.

Ok, yes, Last Vegas is as cliché as they come. Everything you think would happen in a “fish out of water” story of a group of 70 year olds partying it up in Vegas certainly does. People laugh at them, they try to get in to clubs, they ogle big breasts, they declare that they must take naps. You’ll also know exactly how the movie is going to end in the first 20 minutes. The thing is, it’s still so much more than that. It’s genuinely funny for one. There was only a small audience in the theatre but everyone was LOLing very often. The comic timing and delivery of the leads is perfect (Morgan Freeman drunk on Red Bull Vodkas comes straight to mind). I actually can’t remember a joke that didn’t work. It’s also extremely moving in a number of places. De Niro doesn’t do vulnerable very often, but he should. Paddy’s anger at Billy and subsequent softening towards him is some of his best work in my recent memory. Billy’s inevitable epiphany towards the end of the movie that he hasn’t been as good a friend as he could and he’s not as young as he used to be also caused a tear to well in my eye. Freeman and Kline get their chance to shine too.

There are a couple of very small negatives. There’s an odd cameo from LMFAOs Redfoo that doesn’t really work (though I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when they explained to De Niro what would be happening to him during this scene). A later, smaller cameo hits a better note. A storyline involving Sam and a cross-dressing Roger Bart (The Stepford Wives) doesn’t really evolve into anything (I think it’s supposed to show Sam that “odd couples” can work, but we don’t know enough about he and his wife for this to really resonate). Finally, Billy and Sam aren’t always the most sympathetic of characters. Both of these guys have women at home but are in Vegas acting like single men. Again though, these are all minor and don’t affect the enjoyment of the movie.

This was clearly a very fun movie to make. It’s obvious throughout the entire viewing. There are great performances all round with a couple of the leads even going some way towards mending past transgressions in my mind. The film’s conclusion is rife with sequel opportunities but that’s something I definitely hope doesn’t happen. It works as it is and needs to stay as a standalone (remember how much you loved The Hangover? Remember how fast it went downhill with the sequels? In fact there have been a lot of comparisons between this and The Hangover but the two are completely different brands of comedy). Comedies are hard to judge because everybody has a different sense of humor but I had a great time watching this. For all these reasons I give Last Vegas 4 Rant and Rave points.

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) – Movie Review

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Cast: Leonardo DeCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, Rob Reiner, Jon Bernthal, Matthew McConaughey

Writer: Terence Winter

Director: Martin Scorsese

Viewed: Wednesday 22 January 2014 @ Event Cinemas Indooroopilly, Brisbane.

Arguably the most hotly anticipated, non-sequel (Desolation of Smaug, Catching Fire) release of late 2013/early 2014, The Wolf of Wall Street has finally arrived. The internet has been buzzing for more than a year about this movie, with stories of 4-hour running times, issues with ratings, setting records for the use of profanities, extreme drug use, sex and nudity, and glorifying the life of its criminal protagonist, Jordan Belfort, and this was before it was nominated for a slew of Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay). It is not an exaggeration that The Wolf of Wall Street had a lot of hype to live up to. Could it ever possibly have a chance of meeting such high expectations?

Insert high-pitched howl here.

Insert high-pitched howl here.

After learning the “true” ways of Wall Street and becoming a licenced stockbroker under the tutelage of Mark Hanna (McConaughey, Mud), Jordan Belfort (DeCaprio, Django Unchained) has soon created his own company, consisting of a group of his friends in an old garage, selling useless “penny stocks” to unsuspecting fools. The scam takes off successfully and soon Belfort and his best friend/partner, Donnie Azoff (Hill, This is the End), have a large office full of workers, are millionaires and are living a high life of sex, drugs, yachts, mansions, and money smuggling. Things begin to come undone for Belfort when an FBI agent (Chandler, Super 8) starts investigating him, but it is ultimately Belfort’s own arrogance that is his true downfall.

Well, expectations met. This movie is great fun. Scorsese has created a world and characters you will love to hate. Belfort is a douche-y as they come, but DeCaprio is so energetic and mesmerising in his performance that you can’t help but understand how the real-life Belfort was easily able to suck so many people in to his schemes. Really, the whole cast has this effect. It’s perfect. McConaughey, in what amounts to a small cameo role, leaves an impression that lasts through the entire film. Hill is just going from strength to strength in Hollywood. Both he and DeCaprio deserve the Oscars they have been nominated for. Margot Robbie (About Time), wow, all of Australia should be proud of the girl from Ramsey Street as she holds her own against some of America’s most famous stars. Her role could have so easily become a caricature, but Robbie keeps that from happening. There just isn’t a single mistake made in the casting process.

If there is anything stopping The Wolf of Wall Street receiving a perfect score, it’s its running time. Three hours isn’t too long for a movie by any means, it’s just that the first two acts are so fast-paced and engrossing that you barely realise they are passing. In the third act, however, when things begin to unravel for Belfort, the film slows down ever so slightly, but it’s enough to make you start checking you watch. Cuts could have been made (well, more cuts anyway, since considerable cuts have already been made to reach the current run time). That is a very small criticism though. It’s not as if you’ll be sighing in relief when the credits start to roll. Possibly quite the opposite because you will be wanting to spend more time with DeCaprio in the role of his career.

It’s impossible to deny that Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) is a brilliant filmmaker and The Wolf of Wall Street continues his legacy. Plus, who doesn’t love a Scorsese/DeCaprio collaboration (the two of them appear to be working to undo the record kept by Burton and Depp). All his signature techniques are present here, the New York setting, the slow motion, beginning the movie with a scene from further along the storyline. The difference between Scorsese and other directors’ techniques (J.J. Abrams’ lens-flares for example) is that Scorsese never over uses them or makes them feel forced down our throats. In a movie where the subject matter and characters are so horrid and offensive (I can’t imagine any other situation where I would laugh so hard after hearing the words cerebral palsy), he manages to create a perfect balance so you have no choice but to find yourself entertained by what you are experiencing. For all these reasons I give The Wold of Wall Street 4 ½ Rant and Rave points.

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Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – Movie Review

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Annie Rose Buckley, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Rachel Griffiths

Writers: Kelly Marcel & Sue Smith

Director: John Lee Hancock

Viewed: Friday 17 January 2014 @ Event Cinemas Indooroopilly, Brisbane.

A quick Wikipedia search on the woman who penned the Mary Poppins books makes for a compelling read and the life of P.L. Travers would certainly make for an interesting film. Apparently though, Hollywood was not so interested. That is until it was decided to focus on the production of the Mary Poppins movie. And so we have Saving Mr. Banks, a dramatisation of Travers’ time as a part of the wonderful world of Disney.

Perhaps one of the best movie posters in recent memory.

Perhaps one of the best movie posters in recent memory.

It’s the early 1960’s and Pamela Travers (Thompson, Love Actually) is running out of money. Walt Disney (Hanks, Cast Away) has been chasing the rights to Mary Poppins for 20 years now and, against her better judgment, Travers relents and decides to meet with Disney and his team, including scriptwriter Don DaGradi (Whitford, The Cabin in the Woods) and songwriters Robert (Novak, Inglourious Basterds) and Richard (Schwartzman, Moonrise Kingdom) Sherman, in L.A.. Travers, however, insists on complete creative control over the film and proceeds to make life extremely difficult for everyone involved in the project. Travers’ time in Los Angeles is intercut with flashbacks to her childhood in Australia were her father (Farrell, Fright Night) struggles with alcoholism, her mother (Wilson, The Lone Ranger) with depression and the young Helen “Ginty” Goff (Travers’ birth name) meets the real-life inspiration for the magical Nanny.

People are saying that Tom Hanks has been “robbed” by not receiving an Oscars nomination for his portrayal as Disney, but it is Thompson who has truly been robbed (although, admittedly, Cate Blanchet deserves the win for Blue Jasmine). As the stern and harshly blunt Travers, Thompson delivers every eye roll, every sigh, every criticism and demand with absolute perfection. The whole cast is indeed in excellent form (Colin Farrell, particularly, delivers his best performance since In Bruges), but this is definitely Thompson’s film and she carries it brilliantly. Don’t get me wrong, Hanks is great too, but not Oscars great.

Other standouts are the set and costume designs, which will have you believing you’ve been transported back to the 60’s. From downtown L.A. to Disneyland, from Disney’s offices to modes of travel, everything looks legit. The scenes in early 1900’s Australia are also well done. They work. Flashbacks aren’t always everybody’s cup of tea but the story being told in these add to the overall narrative of the film and are edited into the main story in such a way that they are never distracting, in fact I found myself waiting for them to find out what would happen next. Annie Rose Buckley, in her first role besides one episode of Home and Away, proves herself extremely capable as the young Travers and has great chemistry with Farrell.

“Based on a true story” films always need to be taken with a grain of salt, and this one probably needs to be taken with a teaspoon on salt (see what I did there?). It has obviously been Disney-fied to the extreme. Travers was not a nice person and almost certainly never softened towards the Mary Poppins movie or the team behind it in the way it is presented for us here. It’s hard to imagine the same woman who demands the exclusion of any songs (along with the colour red) from the movie dancing around the room with the Sherman brothers to on one of the musical inclusions in a matter of a couple of weeks in their company. Making Travers a little more sympathetic than she was in real-life is understandable though. The film wouldn’t work quite was well if she was just an absolute bitch the whole time. As dishonest as it may be, it is a brilliantly made, acted and entertaining movie. For all these reasons I give Saving Mr. Banks 4 ½ Rant and Rave points.

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