Disney’s film nothing to Pooh Pooh

The Movie Man was moseying around online the other day – see, he’s just like you, except smarter, moviewise – and he stumbled upon a goofy site.
Someone is always heralding “great” movies that are considered – by somebody or group – overrated or flat-out bad.
The usual suspects are Forrest Gump (1994, Movie Man No. 33, 9, Best of Year) and Braveheart (1995, MM #79, 9, Best of Year).
Clearly, these sites are just trying to rile up folks to get some clicks. Both Forrest Gump and Braveheart are phenomenal movies.
Recently, the evil internet has taken aim at a lesser “great” movie, but one still cool in the Movie Man’s eyes, Hook.

About the film
Steven Spielberg made Hook back in 1991.
The movie was right in his wheelhouse – child friendly yet affective to adults, especially dads who put work before their family.
(That’s the main thrust of Christopher Robin as well as a zillion other male heart-tuggers.)
Hook is like Braveheart and Forrest Gump in that its devotees will defend it to the death.
And, especially for Hook, it’s become a generational movie where someone who saw it as a boy in ‘91 – or a few years later on video cassette – got a completely different take as an adult when showing his child the movie.
There is much to like about Hook.
Robin Williams is great as a grown-up Peter Pan.
But the movie is called Hook and that character played by Dustin Hoffman is a classic.
He’s hilarious and so is the late Bob Hoskins as Smee – especially during the baseball scene.
It’s also a chance to see drummer Phil Collins in an acting role.
Hook’s conclusion is one of those good-luck-not-crying-tough-guy bulls-eyes – right up there with E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Schindler’s List (1994, MM #22, 9), both Spielberg movies, coincidently.
And Christopher Robin has its tear-inducing moments for adults, too.

The plot
Young Christopher Robin (Orton O’Brien) says goodbye to his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, including Pooh (voiced by Jim Cumming), Eeyore (Brad Garrett), and Piglet (Nick Mohammed).
One day years later, Pooh can’t find his friends so he heads to London – via a magical tree – to find the grown up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor).
A beaten-down adult in a dead-end job who is giving his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) little time, McGregor must find a way to shave 20 percent for his company to survive.
He labors over the chore – then stumbles upon Pooh in a London Park. McGregor heads back to the Hundred Acre Wood to help Pooh find his buddies.
Then, it works the other way around when McGregor’s necessary briefcase must be returned to him by the wood’s denizens before he makes his workplace presentation.

What works
McGregor pulls off the sometimes-pained look of the realization of how his life has degenerated – and how the simplicities of childhood somehow manage to disappear.
Also great is Cumming voicing Pooh. His gentle, casual voicings manage to carry tremendous clout – whether poignantly or humorously.
He splits the laugh tally with the perfectly cast Garrett as Eeyore.
The animation is solid; it’s not super-sharp computer generation but very puppet-y that makes for a kind of throwback look.
The movie is solidly directed by Marc Forster.
There’s a nice shout out to those in the know about two minutes into the end credits.
An old man plays a piano while people and characters frolic on a beach.
That old guy? Richard Sherman, author of about a zillion Disney hits.

Best scene
Back in the Hundred Acre Wood as an adult, McGregor sees Eeyore flailing and floating down a stream.
He races to save the depressed donkey while Garrett gets off a slew of morose one-liners.
The capper is that McGregor springs to leap into the water – only to discover that now that he’s an adult, the water is very shallow.

What doesn’t work
All the other human characters hardly matter in Christopher Robin.
Atwell is good but minor, and the daughter, Carmichael, is not great.
After the opening scene, there’s a long stretch without any animated characters, just jabbering adults.
The movie really misfires at its big payoff. McGregor solves the company dilemma yet the payoff of knocking his boss (Mark Gatiss, probably mostly known as Benedict Cumberbatch’s PBS Sherlock Holmes’ older brother) off his high-horse is paltry.

The rating
There is absolutely no reason for Christopher Robin to be rated PG. (It’s the first Pooh story to ever get a PG.)

Summing up
You know what’s coming when you buy your ticket to Christopher Robin.
It’s gonna be very Disney – well-made, cloying, sometimes almost icky, with a positive message.
Nothing wrong with that.

Next up
The final big movie of the summer season is finally arriving, and the buzz has grown almost as large as the creature in it, The Meg.
The preview – which won a “Golden Trailer Award” – has been a hit for months and advance showings have people buzzing about the monster movie being the kind of fun that hasn’t happened too often this summer.
Anything with a 70-foot prehistoric shark in it will always snag the Movie Man.