The battle to bring P.L. Travers' beloved Mary Poppins children's books to the big screen took over two decades for dear old uncle Walt Disney. The man who made a magical kingdom out of the whims of mouse found himself at the mercy of a middle-aged author who couldn't fathom her own precious creation turned into an over-the-top sentiment or worse, silly animation. Travers was most adamant that Mary Poppins. Does. Not. Sing.
So yeah, we all know how that went down.
Walt Disney Pictures retells the tale of the two-week period in 1964 when the author left London to visit the Los Angeles dream factory, And if she's lucky, a trip Disneyland with the man himself.
Here are five things to know about the Mary Poppins making of:
1. The Battle Between Walt and Travers: Travers will not be swayed by the jovial, but stern Walt, which makes for the best part of the film. Watching the verbal sparring between these two is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! To be honest, the two actors are mostly playing overdrawn archetypes, but Hanks and Thompson sell it.
2. Emma Thompson: Not Her First Time Being a Nanny: As the star of two Nanny McPhee movies, Thompson knows a thing a two about managing a room full of unruly juniors. Here that would be Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak as the Poppins' script/music writers. Since we all know how the actual film turns out, Travers is the one that will ends up learning a lesson or two with a spoon full of well, you know…
3. Aussie Subplot Stuff is Weak: A good portion of the movie unfolds in flashbacks in Australia where Travers (youngster Annie Rose Buckley) grew up with her boozy dad (Colin Farrell), the real Mr. Banks that needed to be saved by a clever nanny. There's an overly saccharine Lifetime movie feel to these sections that needlessly bring the film down.
4. Poppins Connections: Travers was no fan of Dick Van Dyke for the role of Bert.
Fans of the Disney movie (read: everyone), however, will have fun spotting the homages to the Julie Andrews classic, like a spotting the toe-tapping fun had by an upright, all business woman's shoe.
5. 60's Era Can't Get Enough: Think Mad Men production design meets the always sunny Tinseltown. Limo driver Ralph (Paul Giamatti) tries to make Travers experience the west cost beyond the chlorine-smelling air. Does he succeed? Is ‘responstible' a real word? Ask any fan of Poppins.