So we are going to call this historical fiction. Keep this in mind. I won't spoil what happens in the movie, but what happens in real life is that Travers never liked the movie adoption of Mary Poppins. If anything she hated it. And there was a lot of B.S. surrounding Disney's attempt to create a sequel because she effectively prevented it. There were several characters made up, such as Paul Giamatti's characeter, which was Travers' driver. Point being is that this movie has a lot of fiction in it to make it an effective movie. Additionally I have no idea how true the Travers childhood section is, but I would guess that there was some creative liberties taken there as well.
With that in mind, I will say that this is a very good movie. The story is fantastic, with the creative liberties that were taken doing a great job to have a tear or two caught in my eye by the end. The score is excellent, with many reprises of classic Poppins' songs located throughout. Well directed, and well paced going back and forth seamlessly between the making of Poppins and Travers' childhood, this movie is my "official" dark horse for best picture because it is an outstanding movie, and Hollywood has a thing for handing Best Picture to movies that are about how tough it is to make movies. (Argo anyone?)
What is this movies strong point, however, is the acting. Emma Thompson is my current favorite for Best Actress in 2013. She was absolutely incredible as P.L. Travers. She has a tough assignment here, but she successfully makes you hate her in not adopting to what the Sherman brothers wanted to do while simultaneously loving her and appreciating the difficult position she was in. I also see a nomination for Supporting Actor to Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. For the first time in a very long time, I saw the character Hanks was playing, as opposed to Tom Hanks. For one of the best actors in Hollywood, it is very hard to do this. Hanks absolutely nails Walt Disney, making him a very human character, as opposed to just the greatest thing in the world. The supporting cast is phenomenal as well. Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, and Paul Giamatti all bring their A-game for the making of Poppins segment. Actually there's a great scene between Giamatti and Thompson which, in the hands of lesser actors, would have probably been very corny and unbelievable. Instead, they make it one of the most heartfelt moments of the movie. Giamatti and Thompson had great chemistry together as well. In the Travers childhood section, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, but Collin Farrell was brilliant as the father figure. I didn't know that he could be as diverse as he was, but man was he good.
Honestly I have very few complaints about this 125-minute movie. I guess one would be that the cutaways to the childhood were pretty predictable, but does that really matter? Ok here's the main one: was this movie really necessary? Almost all parts of this actually being a movie are made up. Take that away and there's really nothing here of substance. But most of Hollywood's "nonfiction" tales are historical fiction anyway, so who cares right? In conclusion....go see it. You will have fun. Even if you don't actually learn much about the making of Mary Poppins.
The Critique: a fun, enjoyable, and emotional story. Well directed and masterfully acted, this is definitely one of the best movies of 2013.
The Recommendation: If you like Mary Poppins, you should check this out. And if you are a fan of movies in general, you should definitely go see this at some point.
Where to see it: A theater doesn't add much here, so this might be the one this Hollywood season that you wait to see on DVD. But you need to see it.
The Verdict: 9/10 Amazing
Oscar Talk: Nominations for Best Score, Editing, Supporting Actor (Tom Hanks), Actress (Emma Thompson), and Picture. At least.