Christopher Robin review: New, hyper CGI Winnie The Pooh will pour honey on your heart
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings
Director: Marc Forster
People always wish they could stay children forever. How blessed it would be if mom woke us up every morning with a glass of warm milk, our friends played with us and together we won over the world, slayed a dragon, kissed a princess and returned to papa’s arms every night as he read us a chapter of our favourite book. It’s idyllic but too much to ask for.
As adults, we wake up to the sound of the alarm with cold messages from our bosses. We take the morning commute to work, break our backs at the office desk, get screamed at, pushed over and return home to the harsh eyes of a disappointed spouse who scolds us about the late hours. Such is the life of Christopher Robin now, a few years after he left the Hundred Acre Woods and his fluffy friends behind.
Director Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin serves as a reminder to the life we have left behind, for even the happiest children with the warmest friends have to grow up some time. Christopher Robin’s days of going on adventures with Winnie the Pooh and their friends are behind him. He promises he will never forget them but is unable to keep his word under the weight of school books and later, office files. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and others fade away from his memory and from existence over time and so does his spirit of adventure and the big smile that was always plastered on his face.
His daughter spends her days staring at the brick walls of their London home as he fails to give her a childhood that he had enjoyed, out in the woods and with the best of friends. Christopher Robin is not happy in his life and this is the time when he needs his friends the most. Of course, they come around to help him out.
With the magic of nostalgia and honey, Pooh comes back to Christopher’s life but to him, he is not an old friend he is happy to see but a problem that needs solving. Adulthood is no place for talking to your stuffed animals.
From what we remember of Pooh and his friends, there was always an idea that they live in a world that may or may not be real. Perhaps Christopher was imagining it, perhaps they were indeed alive. Until they go out into the real world, there is no way to know. In the new film, the animals take over London. Others can see them, hear them and feel them staring, thus abolishing the ‘it’s all in his head’ idea completely and also taking away a little bit from the story’s charm.
However, the new CGI characters are so adorable, you will forgive them for magically coming to life. Pooh and his friends, with their dirty matted fur and perfectly animated movement, look like any of your kids’ stuffed animals who have learnt how to talk. The CGI is seemless and the characters are revamped so spectacularly well that I’ll just go ahead and say it: they are even cuter than the originals. Eeyore has the same sullen expression on his furry blue face, Tigger’s excitement makes you anxious and Piglet’s pink muffler has never looked more real. Even Pooh gets honey all over his wet fur and walks like penguins in his red crop top. Every time Christopher Robin touched his tummy or picks up a soaking wet Eeyore or gives Piglet a hug, you can’t contain it in your heart how much you want to do it too.
Eeyore, the gloomy fat donkey, rakes in the most laughs with his dull and depressing lines in the movie. “This is a disaster, why wasn’t I invited?,” he says in the most lifeless of voices and reminds us so much of Alan Rickman’s Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Pooh is still a ‘bear of very little brains’ as he gets his head stuck in honey jars, topples kitchen shelves and longs for red balloons. But he is also a ‘bear of very big heart’ as he reminds Christopher of the simple pleasures of live.
The film’s more human characters are impressive as well. It could have been tough to watch Ewan McGregor talk to stuffed bears after you have seen him float down a public toilet or flush his veins with smack but he pulls it off well enough. He convinces us as the burdened employee of an exploitative employer, a father who is failing his daughter and a man who was once a boy, happy and carefree. He sits on a log, besides what would have been a stuffed bear or a ball on a stump, talking to it about losing friends and how he lost track of what is important in life. The realisation of it in his eyes and the guilt in his voice remind you of yourself if you too have made the same mistakes.
Where the film could have done better was way it ended. The rushed ending seemed like a half-hearted attempt to tie it all up quickly before the film hit the 90 minute mark. Marc Forster knew that the heart of the film was at trying to make everyone remember the beauty of childhood and the lonely lives we lead as adults. He builds it up with patience and love but drops the ball at the end, preaching us about it rather than letting it show.
Even then, the journey to the end was quite sweet in itself. Like Pooh on a train, even we took note of all the things that passed us by and that made the travel so much better.
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