Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Christopher Robin review

I'm wondering if any Disney executives saw the movie Hook. (1991) That was one of director Stephen Spielberg's misfires. It was about a middle aged Peter Pan who's absorbed in his work in the real world and not in caring about the lives of his children. Pan does eventually return to his childhood fantasy world but it's over the top. Hook was a bomb with the critics. The new live action film of A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh , Christopher Robin, follows a similar plot. So, one wonders why this would be a good idea with the beloved children's story.

Christopher Robin starts out with the young Robin saying goodbye to his beloved toy animal friends because he is about to go to boarding school. And you know his buddies. There's the bouncy Tigger (Jim Cummings) , everybody's favorite depressed donkey Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi) and of course, the lovable stuffed bear, Winnie the Pooh. (Jim Cummings) Yeah, there are more but frankly I forgot about the rest.

We flash forward where Robin (Ewan McGregor) becomes an adult. Meets the lovely Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) who later works for S.H.E.I.L. D. She exposes the Robin to gamma rays where he becomes a big blue furry superhero known is Furman... Um, the stuff about Furman doesn't happen. But Atwell was Agent Carter in Captain American and the short lived TV show about Carter. Okay back to the plot. Anyway, Evelyn becomes pregnant while Christopher goes off to fight World War II. He comes back to meet his daughter who is a young child, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) and goes to work for Winslow Luggage Company. And yeah like Hook, Robin is too busy with his work to pay much attention to his daughter. Robin's company has now asked him to make drastic cuts that he's supposed to do over a weekend. Evelyn and Madeline go off to the Robin's old home in Sussex where Robin as a boy would access The Hundred Acre Wood where the animals exist. Pooh finds his friends missing and decides to reach Robin by going through the magic tree that was a link between the real world and the Hundred Acre Wood. However, Pooh somehow ends up in London where Robin is at. Hold on. Shouldn't the magic tree lead to the one in Sussex? Oh, bother. Anyway, Robin decides to return Pooh back to his home which is in Sussex or you know where the magic tree is.

Pooh being an English story and with a cast of British actors, there's plenty of maintaining an even strain. The cast is subdued and going over the top doesn't happen even when getting exposed to living stuffed animals. Now this creates gentle performances. McGregor is very likable as the adult Robin who's weighed down by responsibility. Hayley Atwell's Evelyn is a loving mother who wants to see more joy from her child. The voice actors of the stuffed animals are all good too. But we needed more Tigger who was always wonderful at just being happy.

The problem with this film is the story and the style. Unlike the aforementioned Hook, the screenplay goes out of the way of not emphasizing the fantasy. The real world of London and fantasy world of The Hundred Are Wood are very much separated. And when the animals go to the real world, their reactions are subdued by the real world. Director Marc Forster keeps everything a shade of mild. I mean the colors of the film are drab. And yeah I get it. Post war London is not a very colorful place. But even the living stuffed animals are drained of color. Red and blue hues are given short shrift.  The movie lacks magic.    Hello?   Living stuffed animals with personalities.  Oh,  bother.  Thankfully, creator A.A. Milne's stuffed animals are not denied the center stage when they delightfully wreck havoc on the humans.

There are better family movies than Christopher Robin that came out this summer. Ant-Man and the Wasp is one of them. Christopher Robin is a warm albeit colorless film. The grade is B.

No comments: