Monday, February 18, 2019

Movie with Abe: Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin
Directed by Marc Forster
Released August 3, 2018

Winnie the Pooh is a magical character, and there’s something about the Hundred Acre Wood that feels timeless, relevant both for children and adults. The animated ensemble, which includes Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kango, Roo, Owl, and Rabbit, has been appearing on screen since the 1940s in a number of productions from different studios and with slightly different interpretations and modifications of the classic stories. In 2011, Disney produced “Winnie the Pooh,” another idyllic chapter that went over well, and now, the characters come to life in this live-action look at what it means to return to a childlike sense of wonder.

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) has grown up since his days spent with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, marrying Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and raising a daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). His work at a luggage company has forced him to adapt the adage that nothing comes free in life, which leads him to skip a weekend away with his family to focus on work, a plan that is disrupted when Pooh wanders out of the wood and reminds him of his simpler, more serene way of looking at life. A return to the place he loved throughout his childhood starts to open Christopher’s eyes to what he has lost, but not enough to derail him from the work he is so desperate to finish to maintain what he believes will be a fulfilling life.

So much of this film’s narrative and structure is predictable, and audiences can likely write the plot for themselves. Yet the point is to experience the delight of seeing these talking animals come to life, almost stuck on loop with their typical lines, not even trying to convince Christopher of what’s missing for him but merely going about their days as they would, exhibiting a range of enthusiasm from Eeyore’s misery to Tigger’s uncontainable energy. Bringing in Madeline as an example of what Christopher was and who is about to go through a withdrawal from youthful optimism due to her impending departure for boarding school is an effective reminder of the power of imagination.

This film was a surprise nominee for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars, honored for its natural incorporation of these characters into the live-action world around them. Their colors are muted and less vibrant than past versions have been, but it does feel as if these animals are indeed as alive as star McGregor, who inhabits his role with all the gradually-removed stuffiness it requires. Most of all, Pooh remains a tremendously endearing protagonist, looking at life in the least complicated and often most beneficial way, where doing nothing often leads to the greatest things. This is a perfectly worthwhile if entirely uninventive next chapter in this heartwarming saga.

B

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