For someone whose most famous creation has delighted millions of children, “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) was a miserable excuse for a human being.
At least that’s the takeaway from “Saving Mr. Banks,” the new family tale that pits her against Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) in the battle to make the classic movie musical.
The result is a little like being told that Dr. Seuss moonlighted as a serial killer.
Here’s a look at 15 of her bitchiest moments in “Saving Mr. Banks”:
1) After a young mother does her a favor while boarding the plane that will take her to Los Angeles, Travers stares at the baby she’s holding and unleashes a withering, “Will the child be a nuisance?”
2) Despite Disney’s frequent, folksy use of “Pamela” or even “Pam,” she demands to be referred to only as Mrs. Travers.
3) She screams at the kindly Disney, “I won’t have her turned into one of your silly cartoons!”
4) She announces she’s “positively sickened” by Disney’s invitation to accompany him on a tour of his theme park.
5) Upon seeing a Winnie the Pooh doll, one of the dozens of stuffed animals Disney has sent to her hotel suite, her only reaction is a sigh. “Poor A.A. Milne.”
6) She throws the pears from her welcome basket straight into the hotel pool.
7) When Ralph (Paul Giamatti), her chauffeur who’s so earnest he’d might as well be animated, fetches her a paper cup of tea, she lets him know that, “It’s blasphemy to drink tea from a paper cup.”
8) When Ralph boasts of the fresh Los Angeles air, she dismisses it as smelling “like chlorine and sweat.”
9) She complains about the lack of “gravitas” in the “Mary Poppins” script.
10) She snorts at the suggestion that “Mary Poppins” star Dick Van Dyke is “one of the greats.”
11) She derides the “Spoonful of Sugar” lyrics as being “enormously patronizing.”
12) She announces that she’s tired of the color red and demands that it not appear anywhere in the movie.
13) She arrives for a session with songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman (Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak) and screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) with the greeting, “What horrors have you in store for my beautiful characters today?”
14) When Robert Sherman stands up for the Disney team, she demands he go stand in the hall. When he initially refuses, she scolds him. “I shan’t say it again.”
15) Even after the Shermans and Don DaGradi finally break through to her with a giddy, heart-capturing rendition of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite,” she’s quick to point out that “the proper English would be, ‘Let US go AND fly a kite.’ ”
“Saving Mr. Banks” is rated PG-13 and is playing nationwide.