(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Christopher Robin)
Doug (vo): Christopher Robin is often thrown in with the Disney live-action remakes, and...I don't know. It feels a little...different than that. It's a strange film I can't really get that much of a grip on. In many respects, I really find it to be quite mature, especially for Disney. In other respects, it seems too childish and cliche. In some respects, it seems really rugged and kind of gritty. In other respects, it looks downright ugly. On the one hand, I love that they took one of the great literary characters that translated beautifully into one of the great Disney characters, representing the almost d'awwest nature of his actions. But it's met with every bullshit storyline you've heard in a story like this, not spending enough time with your family, the evil big bad work. I'm all over the map with this, so let's see if I can come to a logical conclusion.
Doug (vo): Christopher Robin, as a young boy, it looks like is leaving the Hundred Acre Wood and going out into the real world to grow up. Well, even though he does, into Ewan McGregor, actually, and even raises a family of his own, it looks like his own childhood has not changed that much, as Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, and everyone else seems to stay in the Hundred Acre Wood, waiting for him to come back. Wouldn't you know it, though? Christopher Robin is way too busy at his job, doesn't have time for his family, and when this big vacation was supposed to happen, something super-mega bad occurs, and a lot of people are gonna be laid off unless he can think of a solution. While trying to figure something out, he comes across Winnie the Pooh, voiced by Jim Cummings, who brings him back to the Hundred Acre Wood to try and remember his childhood. Can he learn the value of being important while also finding a way to balance his job...? Oh, what do you think?
Doug (vo): So, yeah, the setup is kind of lame and very standard. Oh, not Christopher Robin growing up. I like that. I even really like the idea of him trying to keep his childhood alive while trying to deal with this adult world. And to the movie's credit, it doesn't quite go Mary Poppins Returns, where there's just this evil banker that's trying to destroy everybody's lives...I mean, yeah, there is this incompetent boss, but he's not in it for very long. But it's just, we've seen this done a million times in Mary Poppins and Hook and a little bit of Where the Wild Things Are and...yeah, the more I think about it, Mary Poppins Returns. However, where something like Mary Poppins Returns is almost insulting with its message, this one really does try to take it seriously. It's very slow-paced, really takes its time, and isn't especially showy. It does seem to keep that simplicity of what the Winnie the Pooh books were about...until, you know, a car chase at the end, but...at the same time, it's not really a car chase where there's, like, a bad guy, it's just something to help people at the jobs. It's a little relatable, but it still feels too familiar, too manipulative.
(Clips focusing on Winnie the Pooh are shown)
Doug (vo): There's kind of this strange inconsistency throughout the entire movie. For example, Jim Cummings once again does Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. That's fantastic. In fact, honestly, I'm kind of realizing more and more what a phenomenal actor he is. There's a line where Pooh is tired, and he sees a bench and says, "That looks like a bed." Now, as a line, that's nothing. It's not even a very well-written line. But listen to how he says it.
(That scene is shown, showing Pooh approaching a bench in London)
Winnie the Pooh: Oh, I'm getting very sleepy. And that looks like a bed.
Doug (vo): There is so much beautiful simplicity and charm in his delivery. He's become more than just a replacement voice for the original, he really has become this character, and maybe understands him better than anyone else living. The best scenes are like that, like there's a scene where he's on a train and he asks the little girl for honey. She says it, and he just kind of smiles. That's perfect. Like, that's Winnie the Pooh. You got it, nailed it, wonderful. But when you hear that iconic voice, you want to see it come out of the iconic doll, and this doll looks really rugged and kind of creepy. Every time he talks, it just kind of weirds me out.
(Clips focusing on Pooh's friends are shown, along with several clips focusing on Christopher Robin)
Doug (vo): But, okay, so they look a little different. Big deal. Well, they also sound a little different. Yeah, Jim Cummings is Tigger and Pooh, but everyone else has different voices. They don't even attempt to make them sound like the original characters. So even then, you're constantly being thrown off when Pooh would say, "Oh, hi, Rabbit" in his voice, and then hear a completely different other voice for Rabbit. Ewan McGregor as Christopher Robin also gets a little tiring after a while. How long can he just be like, "Wha...? It's me, Christopher Robin. Pooh? What's going on here? I just don't know"? You're kind of saying to yourself, "Can you just find your childhood already? You're kind of getting on my nerves." But with that said, yeah, there is a lot about finding your childhood in this movie, and not always in the "beat yourself over the head" way. It is kind of simple, and it is kind of vague in the best way sometimes.
(Clips focusing on the Hundred Acre Wood are shown)
Doug (vo): But even with that, it goes a little overboard. I mean, the Hundred Acre Woods is really kind of ugly-looking, and even the characters are really kind of ugly-looking. And usually, I'm okay with trying something a little different, but you just kind of get tired of looking at them after a while. It's just so much grey and no color. Winnie the Pooh is supposed to be simple, but it's also supposed to be imaginative.
Doug (vo): I mean, look at these other Winnie the Pooh movies. They're gorgeous. They're simple, but they're gorgeous, you so appreciate the color of the leaves and the seasons. I don't appreciate anything about how this movie looks. But again, you could argue that's sort of the idea. Christopher Robin has grown up and the color is gone. But there's not even that much color in the beginning, you know, when he's a child and things are good, but, wait, he's going away, so maybe that's supposed to be part of it, too. I don't know. I guess I can say I really appreciate the attempt that this movie made, and that it does try to be very adult, and it doesn't try to be too kid-friendly. But, ironically, the more kid-friendly Winnie the Pooh movies feel more adult, because there is a respect for simple things outside of just saying it. It's showing it, too. It's showing it in the colors, it's showing it in the personalities, it's showing it in the various little but also kind of big adventures they have. Whenever Winnie the Pooh got too big, that's where it always felt like it was feeling false. And this...never goes too big, but it never stays at the right amount of small either. It's tricky, and I'm not gonna act like a lot of talent didn't go into this to try and balance this out.
Doug (vo): I think the best way I can sum it up is, if you look at the trailer, you see the toys, and you're not freaked out by them, and the colors aren't too grey, and you like this initial idea, I think you'll enjoy this movie. It'll give you exactly what you're looking for. In a weird way, I guess I am recommending it, 'cause I can see a lot of people reading something really deep into it, and for the right reasons. Did it do it for me? No. But I do feel it's worth taking the hour and a half or so to see if it'll do it for you. I've heard people say they really got a lot out of this movie, and if it did, I think it's great. All things considered, it does teach some very important things. It just didn't do it in a way that I really got into. But maybe it will for you. Take a look and see if it's worth giving a bother.
(A scene showing an emotional Christopher Robin sharing a hug with Winnie the Pooh is shown)