Rick Bentley's Hollywood Notebook: Tom Hanks isn't perfect

The Fresno BeeDecember 1, 2013 

Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) shows Disneyland to "Mary Poppins" author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) in Disney's "Saving Mr. Banks," being released in U.S. theaters limited on Dec. 13, 2013 and wide on Dec. 20, 2013.

FRANCOIS DUHAMEL — Disney Enterprises

It was beginning to look like there was nothing that Tom Hanks couldn't do. I thought he had made a mistake by taking on the role of Walt Disney in the upcoming movie "Saving Mr. Banks," but after seeing his performance, I've decided that Hanks perfectly captured the essences of the man who built the Disney empire.

During an interview for that film, Hanks revealed he does have at least one small flaw.

"Saving Mr. Banks" deals with Walt Disney's efforts in the early 1960s to convince P.L. Travers, the author of the "Mary Poppins" books, to sell him the rights to make a movie based on the character. She's very hesitant. In an effort to win her over, Disney takes her to Disneyland. Several scenes were filmed at the Anaheim theme park before the gates opened.

Hanks thought this would be a great opportunity to take his granddaughter on a ride. It would be like she was getting the chance to enjoy a trip to the park with Walt Disney.

"An interesting thing happens as a grandparent in that you see no reason whatsoever that your granddaughter shouldn't be delighted to take a ride on the Winnie the Pooh Adventure. It's Winnie the Pooh. It's fun. It's Pooh Bear. It's Kanga and Roo and Owl. It's Christopher Robin," Hanks says.

"It's gonna be a blast. She's gonna remember this the rest of her life, her ride on Winnie the Pooh's Great Adventure."

It didn't go as planned. She will remember the ride but not the way Hanks envisioned it.

"My granddaughter was terrified by the noise, the big spinning bears. She will be haunted for the rest of her days by this first image of Winnie the Pooh in a loud, short, herky-jerky ride that her grandfather forced her to do on the day he played Walt Disney in Disneyland. That is just a sample of the fantastic job I do as a grandparent. Thank you," Hanks says.

He may have grandparenting flaws, but Hanks continues to be nearly flawless when it comes to acting.

'Hunger Games' Park?

It's no surprise Disney executives are working long hours to come up with new ways to increase the presence of Marvel Comics characters at their theme parks. It would be easy to create new rides and exhibits because the characters have been around for more than 50 years.

What is a little surprising is that Lionsgate, the studio behind the "Hunger Games" movies, has been approached by two companies to build a theme park based on movies. The only way this would work is if the attractions were added to an existing park as in the cases of Cars World at California Adventure or the Harry Potter attraction at Universal.

Here are a few ideas in case they do create a "Hunger Games" theme park:

Before you even enter the park, the games begin. There aren't enough parking spaces for the crowds and so it's a fight to see which families get in and which are eliminated. No one dies, the losers are just sent to the less-appealing Hungry Games Park.

You are met at the front gate by an animatronic President Snow who sends you to one of 12 districts in the park.

District 1 specializes in producing luxury items. Be sure to buy a souvenir Effie Trinket.

District 2 is in charge of fighting and weapon making. Here you can fight a holographic Peeta. Don't worry, he rarely fights back.

District 4's claim to fame is fishing. Watch while park employees fish money out of your wallet for your "Hunger Games" T-shirt.

District 6 is known for transportation. Take the "Hunger Games" ride where 24 people are placed in a car at the start but only one makes it to the end.

District 7 is all about lumber and paper. And when they say paper, they mean the paper money you will spend buying "Hunger Games" toys designed to fall apart in a few days.

There's a 13th district, but it's the gift shop guaranteed to leave you as broke as those who live in the other 12 districts.

End your day at the Katniss Kitchen where you can enjoy a piping hot bowl of Catching Fire Chili. It's guaranteed to make any man or women feel like they are on fire.

Oscar around her neck

Winning an Oscar changes the way actors are treated. They could live to be 110, travel to Mars and write 10 books and their obituary would start "Oscar-winning actor ..."

This is the kind of respect the public and media pay to a performer for winning the highest acting honor. Other actors aren't quite as impressed (or at least act like they are impressed) with the statues handed out by the Motion Picture Academy. Jennifer Lawrence, star of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," found that out after she picked up the Best Actress Oscar for her work in "Silver Linings Playbook."

The Oscars were handed out while she was filming the latest movie in the "Hunger Games" action series. Generally, the reaction on the set was positive. But there was this one cast member (hint: Woody Harrelson) who used the Oscar win by Lawrence as a source of good-natured kidding.

"Every time I messed up my line, he was like, 'better give that Oscar back,' " Lawrence says, casting an evil look at Harrelson during interviews for "Catching Fire."

Lawrence calls winning the Oscar "a wonderful gift I am so grateful for. I'm confused by it slightly. But, it's a great honor and I'm still pinching myself. I don't think I have fully digested it."


TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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