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1 review, 3 user ratings


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Christopher Robin
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Peter Sobczynski

"100% Pooh"
1 stars

The best scene in “Christopher Robin,” Disney’s latest attempt to produce a live-action variant of one of the familiar titles in their animation library, in this case the Winnie the Pooh stories from A.A. Milne, comes right at the very beginning. In it, taken mostly from the final scene of Milne’s last Pooh story, “The House at Pooh Corner,” young Christopher Robin is about to be sent off to boarding school and, before moving on, spends one last afternoon hanging out in the Hundred-Acre-Wood with his friends—Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Tigger (Jim Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sara Sheen), Owl (Toby Jones) and, of course, Pooh (Cummings again). Granted, it is a bit disconcerting at first to see characters who have thus far been depicted on screen in 2D animation rendered in a combination of live-action and digital effects but the decision to give Pooh & Co. a design closer to the original E.H. Shepard illustrations than to the softer versions seen in the Disney cartoons is a nice touch and the scene does a pretty good job of capturing the warm sentiment and gentle good humor of its predecessors. Unfortunately, this is also the only scene that works in the film and as it lurches on, it quickly turns into an unforgivably ghastly grotesquerie that seems to have been made by and exclusively for the same rotten people who have unaccountably elected to cite “Hook” as one of the formative cinematic experiences of their lives.

After a title sequence that shows Christopher going to boarding school, suffering the death of his father, meeting and marrying Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and going off to fight in World War II, we pick up with him (now played by Ewan McGregor) in post-war London and discover that he is now working as an efficiency expert for a struggling luggage concern and has just been charged with coming up with a plan for reducing costs by 20% that will not result in massive layoffs at the firm. This, unfortunately, means missing weekend trip to the country with Evelyn and their daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), who is herself spending all her time cramming before being sent off to the same boarding school that her father attended. As it turns out, this is not the first time that this has happened —while Christopher clearly loves his wife and kid, he is always putting his work before them, ostensibly to provide a better life for them at some point down the road. In other words, the dreamer has become a drudge and when Madeline shows him a picture he drew of Pooh and the others when he was younger and while he vowed to never forget them, it is obvious that he has not given them a thought in years.

This is clearly a man in need of getting in touch with his inner child and clearly a job for a honey-obsessed bear. Therefore, Pooh goes through a magical door in a tree trunk and emerges in London in a park just across from Christopher’s home. Before long, the two have a reunion marked with Christopher feeling equal amounts of shock, confusion and exasperation (Pooh inadvertently trashes much of Christopher’s kitchen in his efforts to help out) that culminates with the two of them returning to the Hundred-Acre Wood, where the two are once again separated after Christopher viciously lashes out at his once-inseparable friend. After coming across the others, they set out in search of Pooh. Will there be a reconciliation between the two. Will there be a last-minute crisis involving Christopher’s work that encompasses a return trip to London, the assistance of Madeline and several cars running into things? Will Christopher finally learn valuable lessons about the importance of family over work, a concept that I am sure every person involved with this particular film has followed to a T over the years?

There are lot of problems with “Christopher Robin” but the biggest one is also its most fundamental—who is this movie supposed to be for in the first place. The notion of Christopher Robin as an adult reencountering Pooh & Co. is one of those ideas along the lines of “What was Sherlock Holmes like as a kid?”—as one-line pitches go, it sounds interesting at first blush until you consider it for a minute or two and realize the only possible answer is “Who cares?” There is certainly nothing in the screenplay put together by the oddball team of Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy and Allison Schroeder to inspire anyone to care—it feels more like they got into a jam in trying to dream up a suitable narrative and instead elected to deploy the standard “Mary Poppins” template about the fantastical visitor who helps the middle-aged stick-in-the-mud become a Good Father. If their attempts at making whimsical magic fall flat, they seem like absolute triumphs when compared to how director Marc Forster, the hack behind such clunkers as “Stranger Than Fiction,” “Quantum of Solace” and “World War Z,” handles their material. Presumably hired off of his not-bad work on “Finding Neverland,” the film that delved into the story behind the creation of “Peter Pan,” Forster shows absolutely no flair for the gentle whimsy, comedy and sentiment that makes up the typical Winnie the Pooh narrative. The humor falls flat, the sentiment descends into treacle at the drop of a hat and the whole thing has been produced with a whim of lead. And considering that this is a film that is being aimed at a family audience with an emphasis on younger viewers, it seems weird that it focuses on things that most kids will not give a fig about. Kids (and more than a few adults) want to see Pooh scampering about and getting into bothers, not stuff about reducing company overhead and Christopher ignoring his daughter.

Which brings me to the other major question that “Christopher Robin” will inspire in anyone who sees it—who is this thing supposed to be for in the first place? It seems to be an ideal title for kids in theory but it turns out to be anything but that, unless the younger generations have developed a fascination with the inner workings of luggage concerns that has somehow eluded me. Beyond that, it is too often sad and depressing without earning those emotions (seriously—Christopher Robin snapping at Pooh?) and even they will have a hard time buying how everything turns out happily ever after. Grown ups, perhaps hoping to tap into a gentle reminder of their childhoods along the lines of the recent documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” will find the story too silly, mawkish and derivative for its own good and will be bummed by the sight of good actors like McGregor and Atwell flailing about amidst the nonsense. The only performances that turn out right come from the voice cast—as Pooh, Cummings once again demonstrates himself to be a fine replacement for the late Sterling Holloway and Garrett proves to be an inspired choice for the relentlessly mopey Eeyore.

Because of a love for Winnie the Pooh that goes back as far as I can remember and continues on to this day, I genuinely was looking forward to “Christopher Robin” despite certain misgivings about its concept—if nothing else, the wonderful “Paddington” movies have demonstrated that this sort of storytelling can result in a live-action film suitable for entertaining audiences of all ages. The difference is that the makers of the “Paddington” films clearly studied the original stories and sought to make a big film that nevertheless retained the delicacy of the source material while “Christopher Robin” seems to have been made by people who clearly studied the box-office returns for the “Paddington” films (at least the first one) and decided to copy it in the broadest strokes without ever quite understanding what made them work from an artistic standpoint. The end result, save for that first scene, is a grim and dreary failure and while it has been hard-sold to its target audience enough to pretty much ensure that it will be a hit, I can only hope that they reject it and stick with the original books and films instead.

Because of a love for Winnie the Pooh that goes back as far as I can remember and continues on to this day, I genuinely was looking forward to “Christopher Robin” despite certain misgivings about its concept—if nothing else, the wonderful “Paddington” movies have demonstrated that this sort of storytelling can result in a live-action film suitable for entertaining audiences of all ages. The difference is that the makers of the “Paddington” films clearly studied the original stories and sought to make a big film that nevertheless retained the delicacy of the source material while “Christopher Robin” seems to have been made by people who clearly studied the box-office returns for the “Paddington” films (at least the first one) and decided to copy it in the broadest strokes without ever quite understanding what made them work from an artistic standpoint. The end result, save for that first scene, is a grim and dreary failure and while it has been hard-sold to its target audience enough to pretty much ensure that it will be a hit, I can only hope that they reject it and stick with the original books and films instead.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=29781&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/03/18 12:36:18
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User Comments

8/31/18 Louise The Paddington movies are rubbish as well ! ! !. 1 stars
8/08/18 Bob Dog Boring - - Pooh deserves the Paddington treatment. 1 stars
8/04/18 teddy crescendo A laughable embarrassing cinematic joke, almost unwatchable. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Aug-2018

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Australia
  03-Aug-2018




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