You expect a bit of schmaltz from a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. But schmaltz doesn't entail a sentiment lathered so thickly that it's feels like an anti-depressant commercial, or material so broad that it's insulting to believe that audiences above the age of five can relate to the emotionality onscreen. Saving Mr. Banks takes for granted that its viewers are fans of traditional Disney, seeming to confuse Disney fans for Disney characters, and insinuating that we bear the intellectual sophistication thereof.
The real victim, of course, is the character of P.L. Travers (Emma Roberts, charming as she can be with this material), who incurs a fraction of a storyline about overcoming (or learning to live with?) her latent childhood traumas. As a young girl in Australia (as we learn in intermittent flashbacks — by and large the dullest part of the movie, but such a hefty piece of it), young Travers adored her merry, whimsical alcoholic father (Colin Farrell, playing a character that feels as grounded in reality as Dick Van Dyke's penguin-trotting screever Bert), enchanting in his Neverland mannerisms while her chronically depressed mother watched the family crumble into squalor.
Forty-odd years later, the themes of Travers' childhood inform (sometimes directly, right down to presciently repeated phrases) her resistence to allow her novel Mary Poppins to take form as a Disney movie. In the absence of a reason for why she might have a sudden change of heart about a feeling to which she has apparently held so strongly for two decades, Travers opts to fly out to California to meet Walt Disney (Tom Hanks, wading through the script without any of the energy we know he has in his back pocket) and discuss the adaptation process.
When it's not insisting upon clunky "melting the ice queen" devices — like nuzzling Travers up to an oversized stuffed Mickey Mouse to show that, hey, she's starting to like this place! — the stubborn author's time in the Disney writer's room is the best part of the movie. Working with (or against) an increasingly agitated creative team made up of Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman, and B.J. Novak, Travers protests minor details about setting and character, driving her colleagues mad in the process. It is to the credit of the comic talents of Whitford and Schwartzman (who play reserved agitation well beside Novak's outright hostility — he's doing mid-series Ryan in this movie, FYI) that these scenes offer a scoop of charm. But Travers' gradual defrosting poses a consistent problem, as it is experienced over the slow reveal of her disjointed backstories in a fashion that suggests the two are connected... but we have no reason to believe that they are.
The implications of the characters' stories — depression, child abuse, alcoholism, handicaps, and PTSD — are big, and worthy of monumental material. But the characters are so thin that the assignment of such issues to them does a disservice to the emotionality and pain inherent therein. A good story might have been found in the making of Mary Poppins, and in the life and work of P.L. Travers. Unfortunately, Saving Mr. Banks is too compelled to turn that arc into a Disney cartoon. And much like Travers herself, we simply cannot abide that.
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ABC’s surprising hit Once Upon a Time gets curiouser and curiouser with each passing day. The latest update delivers word of new fairytale characters—namely Mulan and Sleeping Beauty—and while we’re all fairly well-versed in both characters’ stories (thank you, Disney), Once Upon a Time also serves up their real world counterparts. ABC was kind enough to reveal the fairy tale versions of these new characters to EW, but we’re left to wonder about who they might be on the Storybrooke side of the divide.
Mulan (Jamie Chung of Sucker Punch) is the first new character of legend. Disney first pulled the character from an ancient Chinese poem, so this marks the first OUAT story that stems from outside the typical fairytale canon. Mulan, like the Disney cartoon version, is a skilled warrior trained in weaponry and tracking. She’s very spiritual and her good opinion is not an easy thing to obtain, but her friendship, once attained, is strong. So where could she fit in the real world, with Henry and Mary Margaret?
Her real world counterpart could be a young twentysomething who left home when she realized her parents’ idea of her future did not match her own. Much like Mulan, this Storybrooke resident’s parents may have expected her to get married and start a family, but she has different ambitions. As such, she lives alone in the isolated town, a place which would be just a stop along the path to her dreams, but of course, like everyone else, she can’t leave the cursed little hamlet. And backstory aside, perhaps some of her weaponry skills will permeate the barrier between fairytale and real worlds and she can prove useful in Emma’s battle against the Evil Queen/Regina that is surely brewing after Season 1's explosive finale.
Also being added to the season two lineup is Sleeping Beauty (Sarah Bolger of The Tudors). Her character doesn’t quite pack as much punch as Chung’s warrior, but there is great potential with the iconic damsel in lethargic distress. Once Upon a Time’s Princess Aurora (whom all of her subjects adore-ah) is described as a spoiled girl born into privilege. And since all Once Upon a Time characters have fatal flaws, Aurora’s got one a few of her fellow TV princesses can understand: she’ll “sacrifice everything for love.”
While the word “spoiled” may send some fans running for the wooded hills, we should keep in mind that Once Upon a Time is known for elevating its classically “helpless” princesses and heroines to independent, self-sufficient women. Snow White is a warrior with a bleeding heart. Red Riding Hood isn’t the victim of the wolf – she is the wolf. And even the Evil Queen isn’t simply vain and needlessly vicious. She’s colored by sadness and her plan, while devious, is more guile and wise manipulation than jealous anger. As such, we can surmise (and hope) that Aurora will be tinged with immaturity, but her stalwart heart will be in the right place. Plus, since Maleficent (the beguiling and pitch-perfect Kristin Bauer van Straten) was such a large part of the season finale, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to see the villainess step in and play her famed role in Aurora's temporary demise.
The real world counterpart to the fairytale Sleeping Beauty could be a teen girl not yet versed in the harsh realities of adult life. She may even be a tad annoying and admittedly boy crazy, but at her core, her mission will always be true love. Perhaps Emma or Mary Margaret will have to help her find her gooey center? (And it if we're lucky, it might even help Mary Margaret realize her equally gooey heart still beats for David.)
Granted, Once Upon a Time is known to pull a Rumpelstiltskin from time to time and surprise us all with an unimaginable twist, so there’s no telling who or what these girls will actually be when the season starts Oct. 23. However, Hollywood.com will be on the scene next week at the series’ San Diego Comic Con panel, where we can bet a secret or two from the next season will be spilled. (That's your cue to stay tuned.)
Who do you think Mulan and Sleeping Beauty will be in the real world?
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[Image: David Edwards, Daily Celeb]
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While we were ecstatic about the news that 98 Degrees might be reuniting for a 15-city tour this summer, there's one woman who was much less amused by the rumor. And no, it's not because she's a die-hard ‘NSYNC fan. Vanessa Lachey is set to give birth in the fall, and thus a tour would take her husband Nick Lachey away from her in the final weeks of her pregnancy.
Vanessa tells E! that her husband will remain by her side — for now, at least. "They broke up about 10 years ago and they've always talked about a reunion," she explains. "As of now, he will not be on tour." Of course, after the baby is born, there's no reason that the Lacheys couldn't go on the road together.
And if Vanessa does decide to join her husband on tour, she'll be in good company. For some reason actors and musicians are the peanut butter and jelly of the entertainment world. Just take a look at these other high-profile groupies.
Beyonce is fond of saying that she hadn't really dated anyone before Jay-Z, but there are rumors that she had a relationship with rapper/former B2K member Marques Houston. Even if they never hooked up, she deserves a place on the list just for those adorable videos of her rocking out at Jay-Z concerts.
Gwyneth is living the groupie's dream. She met Chris Martin backstage at a Coldplay concert and they went on to get married and have two kids. However, remember we're not talking about a mere mortal here. This is the same lady who dated both Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt.
Kate Hudson got her first big break playing groupie Penny Lane in Almost Famous and it turns out the role wasn't too much of a stretch for her. Both of her children were fathered by famous rockers. Ryder is the son of ex-husband Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes — and last year, she and fiance Matthew Bellamy of Muse welcomed a boy named Bingham.
Anderson was married to both Tommy Lee of Motley Crue and Kid Rock. Plus, just to round out her rock star resume, she made a sex tape with Bret Michaels of Poison.
Tommy Lee's other ex, Heather Locklear, has a soft spot for musicians too. After she divorced Lee, she married Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora. They divorced in 2007, and she moved on to fellow Melrose Place alum Jack Wagner.
The most surprising thing about Carmen Electra's short-lived marriage to Dennis Rodman: The fact that he wasn't a musician. Electra has dated Tommy Lee, Prince, and B-Real of Cypress Hill. She was also married to the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Dave Navarro and is currently engaged to Rob Patterson of the bands Otep and Filter.
If Ryder's exes banded together, they'd make up the weirdest musical group ever. Just picture Beck, Ryan Adams, Soul Asylum's David Pirner, Helmet's Page Hamilton, Jamiroquai's Jay Kay, Mystic Valley Band's Conor Oberst, Rilo Kiley's Blake Sennett, and Green Day's Tre Cool rocking out on stage. And don't forget Johnny Depp on the tambourine.
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