Sunday, August 5, 2018

Movie Review: Christopher Robin

I didn't really get to read any of the Winnie the Pooh books, nor did I follow the series in any way. In fact, the only time I really took notice of this cute bear was when I was in second year high school and my Social Studies teacher used "The Tao of Pooh" -to further explain Taoism to Westerners. 

You see, according to author Benjamin Hoft, Winnie the Pooh personifies the principles of "wei wu wei" which is the Taoist concept of "effortless doing" (Remember Pooh's very quotable "People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing everyday.") as well as the principle of "pu" which is the concept of "being open to but unburdened by the experience".

A good example of which my Social Studies teacher would say is when you are stuck in traffic and the people behind you are honking their horns, even if you can't go anywhere, or cutting lines just to get ahead. If you followed the principle of "pu" , you would just be relaxed and just let things be. Pretty much like Pooh right? 

And that was pretty much the extent of my Winnie the Pooh encounters, so from being a comparison and discussion in my Social Studies class I then enter the world of A.A. Milne's beloved characters in Disney's live action "Christopher Robin".  

When the trailers first came out, I wasn't so much of a fan of the CGI but then I saw this poster of Pooh and the gang (Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger) in the beach, donning sunglasses and relaxing in beach chairs! And I got over my initial thoughts about the CGI and I just want to have them as stuffed toys!  

I don't think I've ever cried at the start of a film but there I was crying my eyes out in a creatively woven sequence where we see a young Christopher Robin leaving his friends in the hundred acre wood before heading off to Boarding School. We see a young Christopher go on a walk with Pooh, with the stuffed bear running his furry paws on tops of lavender flowers, as the sun shines through, in what could only be described as a scene right out of a music video. As Pooh and Christopher sit on their special spot amidst a breathtaking view, the young lad promises that he will never forget Pooh. 

Of course, as soon as Christopher enters boarding school, he experiences the challenges, joys and pains of growing up and these are reminiscent of the books, which follow the style of illustrator E.H. Shepard (just like the books).   

The adult Christopher (Ewan McGregor) is married to Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and a father to a serious and studious Madeline, he works as a manager in the efficiency department of a luggage company. His boss is the hilarious and villainous Mark Gatiss, who is pressuring him to find cuts and this may include having to fire his co workers. 

Forced to work during the weekend and skipping on a planned family weekend, much to the disappointment of his family. An overwhelmed Christopher Robin sits on a park bench and lo and behold, his old friend Winnie the Pooh is sitting right behind him! 

What follows is an adventure far from the hundred acre wood to the busy and noisy streets of London to save an old friend.

Pooh and Eeyore are easily the stars in this film, with the audience laughing at their innocent and well meaning antics. Its a good thing that the original voice actors of Pooh and Tigger (Jim Cummings) was cast to reprise their role. Kudos also to Brad Garret as the eternally depressed Eeyore. Wasn't a fan of Ewan McGregor's acting, I thought it was a bit over the top. While some may think this necessary to portray the role of an adult conversing with his childhood teddy bear, it just wan't my cup of tea. 

Some of the camera work done was really impressive (remember, like a music video) but some were not really complementing of the characters, especially close up shots, showing all of Ewan McGregor's wrinkles. 

Oftentimes we get caught up with the responsibilities of being an adult that we forget what really matters in life. We get drowned in work, fulfilling the interest of a corporation over actual people. There was a bit of parental guilt trip in there (#MomGuilt) and the film just made me want to run back home to hug my son, who was probably already asleep with my mom. Its surprising that sometimes having the same disposition and innocence of a child and a simple bear like Pooh are all that we need to get through life. We forget that its okay to be a kid at times. The film surprisingly is a lesson on work/life balance and in this stressful and demanding times, helps us realize that its okay to go back to the hundred acre woods in our lives, that special place from when we were a kid, that place where we felt safe, with real friends who will never, no matter if we reach a hundred will ever forget us. 

6.5/10 - A delightful film for children of all ages to enjoy, "Christopher Robin" brings to life some of the world's most beloved characters who embark on an adventure like never before. 

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