P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the persnickety British author of the Mary Poppins books, travels to Hollywood in the early 60s to supervise their adaptation into a live-action feature produced by Walt Disney (Tom Hanks). Early rumors that this Walt Disney Pictures release would offer a glimpse of the real man—a selfish, demanding, and often unpleasant executive—turn out to be false, unless you want to count the shot in which Disney can be seen putting down a cigarette. Hanks captures his affected innocence and oily charm, though Thompson gives such a showy performance ("Pfft!" she exclaims periodically) that one expects her to open up an umbrella and float away. Screenwriters Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith cross-cut laboriously between creative clashes on the Disney lot and Travers's childhood in Australia, where she suffered the trauma of an alcoholic father (Colin Farrell); rest assured that, by the end, a little pixie dust will solve everything. John Lee Hancock directed; with Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, and Jason Schwartzman, quite funny as beleaguered songwriter Richard Sherman.
Director: John Hancock
Producer: Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer, Paul Trijbits, Andrew Mason, Christine Langan and Troy Lum
Cast: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Colin Farrell, Bradley Whitford, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths, Dendrie Taylor, Kathy Baker, Victoria Summer, Ronan Vibert, Annie Buckley and Melanie Paxson