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“Saving Mr. Banks”: How the Mouse captured Mary Poppins

The great worm wrapped around the world eats his own tail, and here we are: Walt Disney himself becomes the protagonist — the ever so mildly ironized protagonist, to be sure — of a Disney film, which like all Disney films argues for an idealized marriage between art and showmanship, for the sentimental unity of childhood and adulthood, and for the healing of psychological trauma through mass-produced pleasure. There’s something to be said for those arguments, if we’re honest, and “Saving Mr. Banks,” which stars Tom Hanks as a bluff and cheerful Walt Disney and the marvelous Emma Thompson as Pamela Travers, author of the Mary Poppins books, is a sneakily effective work of manipulation that should charm family audiences through the holiday season and beyond.

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