Review – ‘Christopher Robin’ abandons the nostalgic magic of its characters

Poster for 2018 drama film Christopher Robin

Genre: Drama
Certificate: PG
UK Release Date: 17th August 2018
Runtime: 104 minutes
Director: Marc Forster
Writer: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, Allison Schroeder
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Mark Gatiss, Peter Capaldi, Toby Jones, Sophie Okonedo
Synopsis: When a crucial business meeting clashes with a family trip to the coast, Christopher Robin’s childhood imaginary friends return to help him sort out his priorities.

 

 

Just a year after Goodbye Christopher Robin delved into the real life of the inspiration for AA Milne’s stories, the world of Winnie the Pooh is back on screen again. This time, the characters themselves are entering live-action for Christopher Robin from Disney, which follows an older incarnation of the Hundred Acre Wood’s only human resident. Boring and perma-suited, this version of Christopher is primed for his old friends to return and show him what it means to have fun.

And that’s basically all of the plot there is, dutifully given away in every trailer. Christopher (Ewan McGregor) works in middle management at a suitcase company and is tasked by his slimy boss (Mark Gatiss) with making savings at the ailing firm, including potential firings. A crunch meeting in which Christopher will unveil his plans clashes with a coastal holiday that he and his wife (Hayley Atwell) are planning to take with their daughter. Left at home while his family goes away, Christopher reconnects with childhood friends including Pooh (Jim Cummings), Tigger (Cummings again) and Piglet (Nick Mohammed) as they try to refocus his priorities towards family over work.

Christopher Robin opens with the signature hand-drawn animation that Winnie the Pooh fans are familiar with, but that’s as close at it gets to evoking fluffy nostalgia. The rest of the movie is a tedious trudge through a world completely starved of colour and life. It’s neither as playfully meta as something like The Lego Movie or as warm and charming as the vastly superior Paddington films.

That’s despite the best efforts of voice star Jim Cummings as Pooh, who has voiced the honey-loving bear for 30 years in various media. He’s brilliant here as well, whether delivering sweetly silly puns and one-liners or trying to deliver moral messages. The other members of the Hundred Acre Wood cast, despite the presence of seasoned actors like Peter Capaldi and Toby Jones, are given short shrift by the narrative, which instead chooses to focus on McGregor’s character – a boring, unlikable man whose journey lacks any sort of excitement or emotion. Surprise surprise, this dull man learns that family is more important than work, while somehow not having to sacrifice either. It’s like the story of Mr Banks in Mary Poppins, but without the songs, the jokes or the charm.

Christopher Robin is just a film that lacks any sort of vigour or energy. It meanders between set pieces without a smidge of excitement in a manner so boring that I just found myself thinking about other things. Did I leave the oven on? Can the Labour Party win a general election with Jeremy Corbyn as leader? Why do people still like Ricky Gervais? Anything that crossed my mind would almost certainly be more interesting than the unrelenting, mostly charmless snoozefest unfolding on screen.

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

A potentially sweet story becomes dull and colourless in the hands of the guys behind Christopher Robin, in which Ewan McGregor meanders around while Pooh and friends are given no room to be charming. Characters repeat the mantra that “doing nothing leads to the best somethings” and it seems like doing nothing is very much this movie’s approach. It never pays off.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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