Christopher Robin – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Christopher Robin – 3/5 – Disney (in recent years) have been remaking their classic animated tales as live-action films.  From Beauty and the Beast to Cinderella, they have had a mixture of success.  With this remake, we get to see a live-action tale with beloved characters from the Hundred Acre Woods.  Even with clichés, predictability and some conveniences, Christopher Robin is a fun retelling of a classic fairy tale.

Premise:  With real life bringing dire conflicts, Christopher Robin meets a childhood friend.  With a return to the Hundred Acre Woods, will Robin find a way to relive his past with Pooh.

In the titular role is actor Ewan McGregor.  McGregor does a good job balancing the straight man persona with comical relief antics.  This is fruitful with the adult caricature because it creates a complexion of conflicting emotions.  McGregor layers Robin’s mentality through contrast, creating complexities that helps personal growth through beloved childhood memories.  The subtle evolution dances on the fragility of his work and family life, providing a reflective truth of ‘who is’ Christopher Robin.  The humanistic application is relatable but sincere, becoming a through line for the audience.  What adds to the emotional fervor for Christopher Robin is his interaction with his friends in the Hundred Acre Woods.  The animated creatures are lively and unique; CGI creations that have true individualistic personas through a down-to-earth approach.  This allows for generalization to become poignant, creating innocence that help refresh the standardization of the ‘fairy tale’ archetypes.  From Pooh to Piglet, Tigger to Eeyore, you feel their innate value towards Christopher Robin.  For the rest of the characters, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  The other characters are common archetypes found in any other Disney feature.  With the usage of family, professional relations and other secondary characters, they add enough brevity to show a believable world.  They have no real meaningful interactions, doing nothing more than playing in cheesy situations, speaking clichés lines or being comical fodder to the story.

The direction takes a basic ‘coming-of-age’ outline and combines it with fairy tale tropes.  The initial setup of the prologue and first act quickly introduces the fairy tale plot points:

Main/Side Characters – Christopher Robin and his friends; Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, etc.

Setting – Hundred Acre Woods/London

Main Plot – Robin leaving Pooh and friends behind for adulthood

Once the expositional elements are laid, the story moves in a liner fashion to reveal the ‘who, what and why’ Robin slowly drifts from ‘child innocence’ to ‘adult professional’.  These general tropes provide the catalyst for the rest of the subplots.  In present day, the audience watches how Robin starts to find hardship in dealing with the stresses of work and family.  This stress parallels the issues happening in the Hundred Acre Woods, driving an intersect for Robin and Pooh.  This leads to a second act that generates a cause of reflection, where growth and memories become the foundation of the ‘coming-of-age’ journey.  The film begins to meander between derivative fairy tale antics and ‘generalization’ of family and life tropes.  This causes slight enjoyment to be fracture by unexplainable moments and clumsy dialogue that heavily foreshadows future events.  The film does feel hollow at this point, which is why the interactions between Robin, Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Woods is so important.  Their relationships, interactions and delicate dialogue provides endearment that rises above all the cliché elements.  That feeling grabs, holds and pushes you through that ‘child like’ sensation, creating a place where heartfelt story moments are simple but effective.  In that realism, it helps levy the wooden secondary characters, clumsy physical/slapstick humor and convenient plot devices with true humanistic appeal.  This creates a whimsical feeling, providing a simplistic resolution that is at the heart of any Winnie the Pooh story.  Once in the final act, the foreshadowed elements come roaring back, using a Deus ex Machina device to complete the experience.  This might seem very far-fetch, but the heart of the climax makes for a fulfilled ending.  Once in the epilogue, it provides that full circle context of what really matters to life.

The cinematography blends realism and fantastical elements seamlessly.  This creates a grounded aesthetics, providing a connection to real world locales (London and the rest of England) and fictional places (Hundred Acre Woods). You can experience the lush, vast and welcoming nature of the forest and the sprawling cityscape through a believable lens.  The score is basic, with no real application to the enjoyment of the film.

Christopher Robin is a live-action remake that does enough to be enjoyable.  Even with the obvious clichés, predictable plot points and clumsy comical hijinks, the heart of the relationship between the Robin and the creatures is what makes everything watchable.  If you’re a fan of Winnie the Pooh, this is one for you.  Check it out at a matinee, it is good for the whole family.

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