Unlike seemingly everyone else, I didn’t grow up on Winnie the Pooh. I knew the characters and, to an extent, I do really like them (especially Eeyore) but I don’t have those nostalgic memories with them. By reading this, you can probably guess what I thought of the film, but I do feel it’s an important piece of information to take into consideration whilst reading my review. Yes, the film didn’t work that for me which is a real disappointment as I really wanted to love Christopher Robin. A lack of emotional moments, a really bland story as well as a surprisingly depressing first half all led to me not connecting with the film in the same way that most of my screening did.
In the same way people claim Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, the same can be said for Cummings (Pooh’s voice actor).
The film opens rather sweet, showing us a young Christopher Robin on his last day in the Hundred Acre Wood and from the get go the visuals on the characters really struck me with how tremendous they looked. I wasn’t originally sold on the tatty bear design when it was first revealed, but the opening scene instantly changed my mind. They fitted into the scenery with ease and you very quickly forgot that it wasn’t just Pooh and his friends acting for real. What really brought them to life was the superb voice cast behind the characters. Brad Garrett (Eeyore) and Nick Mohammed (Piglet) both perfect their characters, but the main plaudits should go to Jim Cummings, who is brought back as Pooh and Tiger. After hearing their first lines, it’s no surprise he’s been their voices full-time for almost two decades. He captures the innocence and emotions each one represents naturally and is definitely going to be taken for granted because you can’t see him in the role. In the same way people claim Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, the same can be said for Cummings.
For the first hour or so, there is a surprising amount of gloomy and pessimisitic scenes.
The issue after the rather lovely opening is that the film begins to lose its charm. Christopher Robin grows up and becomes a boring adult who neglects his family for work and that’s fine as we all know he needs his old friends to change his ways. The problem is the tone doesn’t shift away from this despite Pooh coming back into Christopher’s life. Pooh brings the silliness you’d expect, but even when Christopher begins to revert to his younger, more fun-loving self, there’s still a sense that the film should be a lot lighter in tone. For the first hour or so, there is a surprising amount of gloomy and pessimistic scenes. You think the tone that Christopher takes with Pooh at the beginning will fade quickly, but it’s sticks around for much longer than it needs to. It’s Winnie the Pooh, he doesn’t deserve to be yelled at this much.
The fact I didn’t grow up with the characters may be a factor (to my poor review), but…I didn’t grow up with Paddington yet regard his second film as one of the finest this decade has produced.
While the film doesn’t have any trouble creating characters you love, it does struggle when it comes to hitting the sweet spot during the emotionally charged scenes. It’s an oddity as having an emotional connection towards characters is such a hard task, the fact it’s done effortlessly makes the lack of emotional depth within the story even more shocking. Heart to heart moments with a touching score in the background were aplenty, but they never had me anywhere near tears (and I cry at kids films more than any others). The tone the film decided to go with actively has the opposite effect by being so down. If they’d filled it with more happiness, there would’ve been a lot less sitting and simply watching the film unfold and a lot more of wanting to see where the film takes you.
(the film) does struggle when it comes to hitting the sweet spot during the emotionally charged scenes.
Look, I’ve read a lot of people’s thoughts on the film who really loved it. They connected with it emotionally and laughed all the way through. It just fell really flat for me. I didn’t hate it, but I just found it fine. The fact I didn’t grow up with the characters may be a factor, but then again I didn’t grow up with Paddington yet regard his second film as one of the finest this decade has produced. The film has definitely found an audience, but I wish it had the universal appeal to everyone it was clearly aiming for. A real let down, but I’d love to see a sequel that does away with a lot of the issues and manages to fill everyone with the same amount of happiness as it has done to others.