WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES (2018)
Directors: Marc Forster
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Bronte Carmichael
“Willy nilly silly old bear…” – sing along now.
After 2017’s Goodbye Christopher Robin told the tale of the Christopher’s childhood and uneasy rise to fame with the hunny-lovin’ bear Pooh, here Disney deliver us a story of a middle-aged Christopher with different priorities and a lack of thought for his old childhood stuffed buddies. Grumpy old so and so. Pressures of work and family strain take their toll and it’s a return to Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo in order to rediscover wonder and grant a better future for our titular chum.
Anything made in the world of A.A. Milne and Winnie the Pooh is going to lean heavily on nostalgia and the sepia-toned images of old, and Christopher Robin is absolutely no different. Just seeing the old gang back together again is enough to stir memories of childhood stories and playing Poohsticks in the woods – good times. Add in the iconic Pooh theme weaved into the score and a whimsical take on the Hundred Acre Wood and it would seem everything is going to be just fine. It’s when these moments aren’t on screen that the movie falters and the attempts at emotional heft don’t pay off as Marc Forster would have bene aiming for.
A wonderful voice cast, including Jim Cummings, Peter Capaldi and Toby Jones, and some excellent animation bring the gang back to life and they really were fun to watch throughout, providing the majority of the movie's highlights. Ewan McGregor is just fine as the crotchety Christopher and seems to be having some fun as he taps back into his childhood but, sadly, Hayley Atwell isn’t given an awful lot to do and young Bronte Carmichael is hit-and-miss throughout (mostly miss).
When the movie focuses on Christopher’s turbulent life in London, there is a distinct lack of energy and an almost plodding pace (a Pooh-like pace, if you will) that threatens to really derail the momentum of the movie. The scenes themselves aren’t necessarily bad, the investment with the characters just isn’t there to fully sell them. Where the movie ends up is pure saccharine but the feeling doesn’t follow it, it’s all a bit manipulative. The real emotion comes from the conversations between Christopher and Pooh – and seeing Pooh alone with his balloon makes me sad thinking about it.
Christopher Robin is a well-meaning slice of quaintness that succeeds when it embraces the nostalgia it clearly went for. Sadly, the quality isn’t there throughout the movie as it struggles to settle on a consistent tone and at times, it all feels a bit uninspiring. Thankfully, excellent animation and inspired voice acting prevent this from being a complete load of Pooh.
July 17th 2018