Christopher Robin

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Last year, we had Goodbye Christopher Robin. Now we have another Christopher Robin. Who does he think he is, Spider-Man?

A friend of mine had been bugging me to see this for the last six months, so I brought her to the screening. I always like when I have a friend that likes a specific subject matter or genre. I figure they can give me some perspective I might not have on the picture. I have two friends (that might be slightly disturbed) that are obsessed with horror movies. My wife usually doesn’t attend those screenings, and I’ll bring one of them. It’s a win-win.

Before the movie started, Cindy and I both talked about how disappointed we were with Goodbye Christopher Robin, and we were hoping this movie would be better. She even said, “It certainly won’t be as dark, because it’s Disney.”

Unfortunately, this movie wasn’t better, despite the fact that I liked Ewan McGregor playing Christopher Robin more than Domhnall Gleeson as author A.A. Milne.

I certainly hope Disney continues to tackle the live-action stories, though. I adored what they did with Beauty and the Beast (as did Cindy).

Winnie the Pooh’s buddy Christopher Robin is all grown up, and he’s stressed out with layoffs at his work, and his wife complaining he works too much. All of the sudden, Pooh (voice of Jim Cummings) shows up on a park bench like Bruce Willis did in the Sixth Sense. His gang includes Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Tigger (also voiced by Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Owl (Toby Jones), and Eeyore (Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond) . Eeyore got the most laughs with his downer vibe, but it merely reminded me of how much better the Sadness character (Phyllis Smith) was in Inside Out. Often times, I felt the crowd was merely laughing because they knew they were so bored, or they were expected to. Kind of like when you see a bad comedian, and after 7 minutes on stage they say something remotely humorous, so the crowd laughs.

It feels weird to say the characters are one-dimensional when you’re talking about puppets that are animals. It just would’ve been a bit more interesting if they were doing a bit more than the Piglet being scared, Tigger being a spaz, and Eeyore always being glum.

German director Marc Forster has done some interesting work after his break-out picture Monster’s Ball (The Kite Runner, Finding Neverland, World War Z, Stranger Than Fiction, and the horribly titled Bond picture Quantum of Solace).

It’s unfortunate that Forster was working on a script written by Allison Schroeder, Alex Ross Perry, and Tom McCarthy. It shocks me, because McCarthy is a helluva screenwriter. He gave us Spotlight (which won him an Oscar), the underrated Win Win, The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Up (which this movie reminded me of in a few scenes).

The movie starts with Pooh and friends having a farewell party for Christopher Robin (Orton O’Brien). He’s off to boarding school. Aren’t all kids in movies of that era?

It was interesting to see the drawings (which I believe are the original ones from the source material), but that clever combination didn’t last long. We quickly see the school, war, and how life goes on for Chris. He’s got a nice family (his wife is played by the delightful Hayley Atwell), but things aren’t so nice at his job. After the new boss starts making layoffs and wants Robin working during a planned family holiday, things get crazy. Pooh bear shows up, sitting on a park bench. Eeyore is around with bad intent. Honey’s running down his nose….Oops. Sorry. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jethro Tull lately.

Anyway, Pooh and Christopher help each other find their way, and everything ends happily. That’s great, except that…it’s just so boring along the way. In fact, every time I heard the phrase “Doing nothing often leads to something,” I wondered if they had that mind set when making this dang movie! It also made me think of that episode of Seinfeld where they kept saying it was a show about nothing.

I remember a live U2 album where they were covering The Beatles song Helter Skelter. Bono had an intro stating, “This is a song that Charlie Manson stole from the Beatles. Tonight, we’re gonna steal it back.”

I thought about that in the beginning of this movie, thinking the Christopher Robin story was stolen by the British, and tonight, Disney is going to steal it back. Well…they did bring us a lighter script, but not something that’s very family friendly. In fact, at the screening I attended, two babies were crying non-stop, and a few other kids were restless and running around the theatre. And truth be told, I think most of the adults were bored, too. I leaned over and asked Cindy what she thought. She said, “I wanted to like it more. Parts of it were boring and it felt so long. I just kept thinking ‘Josh is only going to give this one star’.”

She was right. 1 star out of 5.

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