Christopher Robin review – This ain’t Winnie the Pooh anymore

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We’ve sinned, and this has been the result. I swear, this is truly the antichrist, and he has come to kickstart judgement day. We haven’t repented enough! We’re screwed! Oh, tis a dark time we live in. But alas, it is to be expected. Honestly, it’s so dark that my wrists have appeared to have slit itself. Anyways, before I pass out from extreme blood loss (seriously its flowing from my arm like a waterfall), I must preach to you all about a sinister force within our wake.

Christopher Robin, spawn of the great demon himself, and his trusty sidekick, Winnie the Pooh, the false prophet, have been plotting to overthrow humanity and send them tumbling down to the abyss. He manifests himself in the form of a movie, a visual form of entertainment whose primary function is to get all you folks into your seats and listen to his very sermons. His tale tells of a workaholic, a man so utterly selfish that he abandons his wife and child in another location (despite his home in the city looking like it could most definitely fit three people all together in one suite). On one faithful afternoon, he meets up with his old friend, a hellish, satanic rendering of the Winnie the Pooh we knew and loved. Said entity encourages the man to come back and help him find his merry band of hellspawn, to which the man hesitantly agrees to do so.

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Gah! What in the blazes is that? Ahhh, get it away from me!!!

Pooh bear is his ultimate weapon. This doll-like creature may look cute and cuddly on the outside, but deep down inside he is a monster. A denizen bred to capture the souls of your children and store them inside his body. His tummy is round and plump, filled with the captured souls of his victims, all screaming and begging for their very release. Don’t make eye contact with him, for his eyes stare directly into thy soul. No more is he the kind, humble, bear-of-very-little-brain he was in the cartoons. Here, Foster and co have made him way too uncanny for his own good. It’s as if the main character from the Omen films decided to visit a Build-a-Bear workshop one day and attempted to create an exact copy of Pooh bear that went wrong in the process. The same goes for the rest of the cast; hollow, almost demonic shells of their former selves (save Rabbit and Owl considering they’re meant to look like their real-life counterparts), encased in a stuffed body to lure in children with their thick, cuddly fur. It’s a trap I tell ya! A trap! The moment they stare into their eyes, all sense of cuteness about them dissipates. Anyways, to all you Pooh fans out there, don’t expect any of the animals apart from Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore to have any sort of significance to the plot at all. They’re just there for nostalgia. You want to hear Doctor Who’s voice coming out of Rabbit? Well too bad, cause he only has around 3-4 lines at most.

Christopher himself acts as if Obi Wan Kenobi started regressing one day. His actor, Ewan McGregor, does a pretty decent job at trying to sell viewers on his workaholic nature, but later his performance simply falls flat. McGregor’s Christopher Robin doesn’t feel like a stressed-out salaryman, but rather an adult schoolboy judging by his mannerisms. His short outbursts feel less like an adult pulling his hair out due to all the stress, but rather a series of unconvincing temper tantrums. Even when he yells at Pooh bear to bugger off, not once did I think he had a tinge of frustration in his voice. His wife and daughter are even less convincing. His wife, played by famous actress Hayley Atwell, simply exists because the writers don’t want Christopher to assume the role of a single father. Besides, the whole idea of a man leaving his daughter behind to fend for herself, would most likely seem too mean spirited and cruel for Disney to handle. So, what I’m saying here is that she barely does anything of note in the film, other than remind Christopher that he has a daughter that flat out hates him. Speaking of his daughter, she is quite possibly one of the dullest female characters I’ve witnessed. She has no personality whatsoever, let alone any emotion for that matter. Even when she realizes that her dad is a complete a-hole, she basically starts destroying her room in the most obvious way to portray her frustration. It blows because it’s a common method used by many directors to avoid having to put somebody’s acting chops on full display. It’s like they have no confidence in her performance. I mean they even direct the camera away from her facial features for pete’s sake. A toddler can just topple furniture over, but it takes talent to let loose one’s anger on screen.

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Oh my god, is that Tigger? <<Vomits>>

I feel the biggest insult here is the story. There’s a beginning, and an end, but it doesn’t feel like there’s a middle. Most films of this calibre have a beginning that establishes the conflicts, the setting, the characters and so on, a middle portion where the film kicks its conflict and tension into high gear, and an ending where the problems faced by the characters throughout the film are resolved (unless said film is trying to set up a sequel). Now I’m not saying every film must adhere to a typical structure. The Kill Bill movies are incredible, but the story structure is as unorthodox as you could get. This film however, feels as if it could benefit from having a middle. Basically, it starts out introducing all the characters, and then it turns out Christopher Robin doesn’t have his equipment with him and the Hundred Acre Wood folk decide on banding together to bring it over. And even then, there doesn’t feel like there’s a moment where the characters feel overwhelmed by the odds and are reflecting on ways to overcome their conflict. And speaking of conflict, the ending is resolved in a mere split second in what is quite possibly the most contrived way imaginable. I almost facepalmed because of this. The film feels more like a live action pilot for a Winnie the Pooh tv show than an actual feature length film. It felt rushed, and at the very end I didn’t even feel like I had just watched a 2-hour film.

And no, this film isn’t a tear jerker in the same vein as Toy Story 3 was. For a film that appears to serve as an allegory for growing up and moving on from one’s childhood, people left Christopher Robin very dry eyed. None of the moments in this film are all that heart-warming, nor do they carry any sense of poignancy to them. You won’t be leaving the theatre misty eyed at all. Its overall message is also marginally dissimilar. Whereas Toy Story 3 makes it clear that it’s a film about maturing and leaving your childhood behind, Christopher Robin is more so about embracing your childhood even as an adult. And honestly, that’s not a bad message. Just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we should turn ourselves into boring drones bred to work for an uncaring society; we can still relish about what we treasured as a child while still serving as productive members of the system we’re in. Sometimes it’s best to clear your mind and just do nothing for a change. To wind yourself down and relieve yourself of anything bothering your emotions. The problem is that it isn’t all that well executed here. There’s a lint of irony to the whole message of “doing nothing,” in a film that feels like it hasn’t really accomplished anything significant towards the end.

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Hmmm, this reminds me of a certain adaptation of another fantasy story…

The film also seems to operate along the same lines of logic as Toy Story with regards to its worldbuilding, except its done wrong. In Toy Story its revealed that all toys are sentient, and that its their duty to keep this a secret from human beings. But in Christopher Robin, it is revealed that Pooh and co are sentient all along and not a figment of Christopher’s imagination. Not only that, but its stated that its not only him that can see them move and such. Everybody else can in fact. There were many moments where random passerbys catch glimpses of Pooh and the gang speaking and jumping about. They even find themselves dumbfounded at the very sight of it. But wait, hold on, if Pooh and co are actually sentient creatures, then what about all the other stuffed animals out there? Can they move, interact with the environment and so on? If there are, then how are people surprised that Pooh and company can talk? Surely it should be an everyday occurrence at this point. At least in Toy Story, the toys are only allowed to do these things when not in the company of humans. But in this film, all the stuffed animals move about even in the line of sight of various people on the street. And thus, the worldbuilding makes absolutely no sense.

So, heed my commands my fellow followers and do not dare watch this movie. Marc Forster uses his visual trickery to fool you into listening to his asinine messages. Christopher Robin preys on the very mindset of children, arguably the most vulnerable audience, for it knows the true extent of their attention span and desires to exploit it. This film is a pathetic attempt to milk the Winnie the Pooh franchise to oblivion. To know that Disney, our perceived childhood heroes, would allow for some a thing to happen, is deceitful. Who on earth would find themselves attracted to the uncanny, demon-like replicas of Pooh and his gang is beyond my comprehension.

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MF after watching this movie…

You have been warned…

Final verdict: 4/10

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