What am I talking about this time: Disney’s Christopher Robin
Directed by Marc Forster
Screen play by Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, & Allison Schroeder
Story by Greg Brooker & Mark Steven Johnson
Based on the writings of A.A. Milne and the art of Ernest Shepard
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss
Run Time: 1h 44min
Feels Like: 3 hours
Overall Review: 3 out of 5 Eeyores
Is it worth $9.16 (Av.Ticket price of 2018)? Nope.
Spoiler Free Review:
This film has an undeniable emotional core and some very solid laughs… sadly, there is so much stuff heaped on top of it and the jokes that land are so scattered or clumped together it creates an uneven piece of story telling. For every good thing, there is missed moment; The Pooh-isms are wonderful, but there are so many set-ups for things that never pay off you are constantly saying, “well, what about…” Every line Eeyore has is comedy gold, and yet the many great comedians that appear in this film seem to have nothing to do. Nothing really happens in the first hour of this movie while the ending is so awkward and abrupt that when it all works out, you feel like maybe it shouldn’t have. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just not a good one. The few moments that transcend these patterns stand out and stay with you, I just wish they weren’t framed with so much mediocrity.
The movie had me hooked right away, it starts with an introduction of the characters and the world through pages from the original books, no narration, just the great words and art of A.A. Milne and the art of Ernest Shepard- a few liberties are taken to animate the images and keep the text moving – but, without a narrator, you are forced to read for the first couple minutes of the movie… and I LOVED that! Then we enter the world of the 100 Acre Woods, it’s Christopher Robin’s last day before he goes off to boarding school and the gang is there to throw him a party, it’s a cute moment that leads into a line for line recreation of the last pages of House At Pooh Corner. The second book to ever make me cry, and on that page too. It’s a faithful and well-done re-creation. I didn’t cry, but I was invested and satisfied with the scene. After this is where the movie falls apart. I’m not sure how long the following sequence was but it felt like somewhere between 30min and interminable.
Christopher Robin gets sent to boarding school, takes classes, his dad dies is a set up that never pays off, than he goes back to school, studies, turns into Ewan McGregor, graduates, gets a job, take the bus, meets his wife in the most mundane meet-cute ever, signs up for World War 2, dances with his wife goes to World War Two, leaves his pregnant wife at the train, get caught in a nasty battle, his daughter celebrates some birthdays, comes home, sees his daughter for the first time in a scene that ends so abruptly you’d swear they must have lost some footage, gets a job, works hard, and then it all ends in a great scene that makes everything before it irrelevant- His wife and daughter are dancing, form his work he stands, seemingly to join them, and instead closes the doors to the adjoining room and returns to his work. The way that scene is shot is so simple and fluid that it’s almost shocking when he closes the doors and you suddenly understand who Peter Banning…er Christopher Robin is right away. The movie continues this by having Christopher Robin defend his workaholic-ness over and over by saying he does it for his family, which I as father completely relate to, but makes the growing up montage as pointless as it was long.
We then spend another astounding amount of time at CR’s work with no real relief except for an inept attempt at physical comedy by Mark Gatiss as CR’s boss, who is normally a brilliant actor, but not even Chris Farley could have saved that shtick. Ok, Maybe Farley could have done it.
CR’s daughter and wife go off to the old cottage where CR grew up, but not before finding and giving him an old drawing of Pooh, which CR promptly spills honey on. This sparks his imagination briefly causing Pooh to wake up and go looking for his old friend. Pooh is magically transported to where CR is and they meet, it’s a copy paste “WAAAAAH” But you…can’t be…” moment, if not for the Tao of Pooh lines that give the entire scene meaning. CR and Pooh go to the country to find their old friends, upon entering the100 Acre Wood, things finally pick up as Eeyore and the gang enter the film and it’s glorious and silly and soaked with joy. Then CR goes back to work, forgetting his briefcase papers and the gang enlists CR’s daughter to return them to him. There’s a cute mad-cap chase and all the family and friends meet up just in time to save the company… somehow… and we roll credits.
There’s a tag in the credits at a beach with some old faces (literally and figuratively), which is fun and worth the wait. But all in all, you could have cut out so much to make this film a more streamlined, connected experience. Matt Hunwick Jersey