Monday, November 19, 2018

Practically Perfect In (Almost) Every Way

Began a sunny morning with breakfast and Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper. Yogi and Boo-Boo have sneaked off to the city to visit the rest of the Hanna Barbara funny animal crew, even as their friends are coming to Jellystone to see them. When Yogi and Boo-Boo encounter a little rich girl who's daddy is too busy for her in the department store, they vow to find her dad and recruit the other animals to help. Meanwhile, Ranger Smith and half the city's finest think he's kidnapped the girl.

Spent the rest of the morning writing. As Anakin dances with Padme, their talk turns to matters of politics and the poor. Anakin thinks that people should be encouraged to make their own way in the world, and if someone is poor, they should go to the work houses. Padme, who was taken to see work houses by her father, a member of Parliament, knows how corrupt they are and wishes there was a better way to help them. He admits that he admires Sheev Marley, Yoda's accountant, but Padme doesn't trust him.

Broke for lunch a little early around quarter of 1. Ran Very Merry Christmas Songs while I had a Mocha Banana Smoothie and the last of the pineapple tuna salad for lunch. This is the DVD expansion of the original holiday Sing-Along Songs video that was available in the late 80's-early 90's. I kind of get the idea that this mainly exists to promote Disney's slate of direct-to-home-media movies and TV cartoons; among the films and TV shows seen in the newer music videos are Disney's House of Mouse, Mickey Mouse Works, Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, A Very Pooh New Year, Seasons of Giving, Pocahontas II: Journey to the New World, and Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. On the other hand, some of the additional songs are most welcome, including Brenda Lee's version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," the Bing Crosby "White Christmas," and the Disneyland Chorus' rendition of "Toyland."

Headed out to work slightly early so I could pick up a bag of dried cranberries for the bread I'll make later in the week and one more box of Belvita Gingerbread Cookies before they're completely gone from the store. (In fact, I only saw one other box today.) I did get stuck in the registers for a little while, including a half-hour before break, and I spent the last hour doing carts, but I was mostly shelving two carts of returns. We were on-and-off busy, not as bad as I figured we would be for three days before Thanksgiving. Guess everyone shopped over the weekend.

Had leftovers for dinner when I got home. Finished the night watching Saving Mr. Banks, in honor of the sequel to Mary Poppins coming out next month. Author P.L Travers (Emma Thompson) has been encouraged to sell the rights to her Mary Poppins book series to Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), after Disney begged her for the rights for 20 years. Travers hates children, fantasy, illusion, and everything that Walt stands for. She has her reasons. Her father Travers (Colin Farrell) was an alcoholic who went from job to job, eventually forcing his family into a rundown house in the Australian backwoods. He adores his daughter, and he's a good man when he's sober, but she witnesses him fly into  drunken rage and get fired, then fall off the stage drunk while making a speech, and has to stop her mother (Ruth Wilson) from committing suicide. Even the arrival of her strict aunt (Rachel Griffiths) can't make her father well or end his reliance on the bottle.

Mrs. Travers gives everyone possible a hard time. Half the creative team, from her driver Ralph (Paul Giamatti) to the songwriters the Sherman Brothers (Jason Schwartzman and B.J Novak), are driven crazy by her incessant demands to eliminate whimsy and magic from the script. While some of her ideas do make the movie better (like toning down the sets to make the Banks look more like normal middle-class Londoners), her insults start getting on people's nerves. Walt can't figure out how to make her happy...until he hits on what they have in common.

It's interesting that Disney did this. While a lot of it is toned down from real life (for one thing, Mrs. Travers hated the resulting movie when she saw it, though she apparently warmed up to it somewhat over time - and she never got over the lie about the animation sequence), it's still pretty harsh for a company that normally guards every single thing about it. I particularly like how they portrayed Walt. Mrs. Travers sees him as a dime-store P.T Barnum, but he's a far more complex man than she gives him credit for. He's not always a nice guy, either. He deliberately doesn't invite Mrs. Travers to the premiere, fearing her reaction, hides his constant smoking (which would later kill him), and did lie about the animation sequence.

While Wilson and Ferrell are haunting as the unhappy Goff parents, this is really Thompson and Hanks' show, and they both recreate their characters with aplomb. Thompson in particular really enjoys tearing into the role of a woman who refuses to compromise for anyone...until she learns to hear other people's stories and realizes that she's not the only one with father problems.

If you're a fan of the leads or of Mary Poppins, or have an interest in the history of film, Disney, or the 60's, you'll want to grab an umbrella and fly on over to check this out.

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