Pop quiz- what film seamlessly merges a favorite childhood movie with the style and jet-set look of Mad Men? Answer: Saving Mr. Banks (DVD/Download). This was one of my favorite films of 2013, and it’s my personal opinion that Emma Thompson was robbed by not getting an Academy Award nomination- ROBBED. Since it’s maybe a little weird to be pairing a cocktail with a kid’s movie (though Disney World is selling alcohol in the Magic Kingdom now), I’ll forgo my fantasies of getting drunk and singing along with Burt the chimney sweep in favor of a cocktail pairing with a more adult movie about the making of Mary Poppins (DVD/Download). Showbiz movies are my favorite Netflix niche genre, and this particular film is one of the greats.
Saving Mr. Banks offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing Mary Poppins to the big screen. Based on the books by P.L. Travers, this was a property highly coveted by Mr. Disney, and highly protected by the author. She finally agreed to consider selling him the rights to the stories, only after making sure she had script approval. So, the cranky Englishwoman journeys to Los Angeles circa 1961 and wreaks havoc on the smiley, giddy, happy-to-be-alive Disney employees working on the film. Tom Hanks does a fine job of playing Walt Disney, and particular kudos go to B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman for playing the Sherman brothers, who wrote the music and lyrics for so many classic Disney songs. Hearing the songs I know so well being crafted in Saving Mr. Banks gives me a new appreciation for the artistry behind them, and I give credit to these men for strengthening my childhood vocabulary with words like fiduciary and precocious. The movie veers off periodically to discuss Travers’ childhood trauma and how Mary Poppins came to be, and yes Colin Farrell is magnetic as her father, but it’s the adult scenes with Emma Thompson where the movie really shines. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to get up and dance to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”. I call that a cinematic success.
My cocktail today references the medicinal flavor-of-choice for Mary Poppins. As she says, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, and while this drink is never actually consumed in Saving Mr. Banks, I couldn’t help referencing that wonderful scene in the original film. Thus, when you’re watching Saving Mr. Banks, follow Mary Poppins’ lead and drink some Rrrrrum Punch.
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup grenadine syrup
1 cup white rum
½ cup dark rum
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
1 pinch nutmeg
Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher, punch bowl, or bottle. Chill in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving over ice. Garnish with nutmeg and orange slice.
I’m not sure what kind of “medicine” this is, but it does certainly make me happy to drink it. Even if Saving Mr. Banks was really just one big Disney propaganda film to make you want to go out and buy Mary Poppins and visit Disneyland, all I can say is- sign me up! Walt Disney had a knack for making people see the magic in our world, and I think he would have been pleased with this film- for even though we’re seeing the real story behind the magic, it doesn’t make it any less delightful. Cheers!