The worlds of Walt and Walter

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 24, 2014

By Hugh McDonald

Guest Columnist

“Saving Mr. Banks” is the story of Walt Disney’s 20 year quest to get Helen Lyndon Goff A.K.A.” P.L. Travers” to see him the legal rights he needed to make the movie “Mary Poppins” based on the characters she created and the struggle between them when she finally caves in.

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P.L. Travers is depicted as an uptight spinster with a very particular view of how the movie should be made as opposed to a very accommodating Walt Disney who goes out of his way to please her while making the movie he promised his daughters he would make.

The acting was top notch. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson work well together as Walt Disney and P.L. Travers. Being able to watch Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak) and his brother Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) compose and play the soundtrack to “Mary Poppins” makes for lighthearted comedic moments in a movie that is mostly very sad.

Flashbacks in the movie show how much P.L. Travers loved her father and was heart broken over his death despite his alcoholism and inability to keep a job. This movie will make you laugh, cry, and watch “Mary Poppins” in a whole new way. After you watch “Saving Mr. Banks” you should definitely watch “Mary Poppins” again. Pay attention to how distant the mother is and how “Mr. Banks” gets the happy ending that Travers Goff never got.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” is loosely based on a short story of the same name by James Thurber, first published in 1939. This is the second time this short story has been used as the basis for a movie.

The first movie version has the same title as the short story, was released in 1947, and stars Danny Kaye as the daydreaming “Walter Mitty”. The latest movie version stars and is directed by Ben Stiller. In the short story and the movie version starring Ben Stiller Walter Mitty is not happy with his ordinary life.

In the short story he daydreams as a reaction to his wife who is always badgering him about something. In the Ben Stiller movie he “zones out” whenever his co workers stress him out or he thinks about Cheryl, another co worker he would like to ask out but doesn’t know how.

This movie is a mellow comedy that is meant to warn the viewer not to miss all of the beauty and opportunities of the real world by hiding in your own imagination. The short story’s Walter Mitty accepts his fate in front of an imaginary firing squad but the movie version’s Walter Mitty decides to do something about it.

The acting was good and the scenery was spectacular. Don’t go to see this movie expecting to see a sidesplitting comedy or a tear-jerking romance, if you do you will be both bored and disappointed. Go see “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” if you want to see an inspirational story with decent special effects and a funny moment here and there and you won’t be either bored or disappointed.

This edition’s movie fact is all about ratings. If you ever want to know what separates a “G” rating from an “R” rating visit and click on the “What Each Rating Means” link for your answer. Don’t forget to watch “Saving Mr. Banks” and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” while they are still in theaters, see ya’ at the movies!

(Hugh is a guest columnist and dedicated movie buff.)