An­other out­ing for Pooh’s friend

Christo­pher Robin (PG)

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Contents - By Demetrios Matheou

PAR­ENTS can be for­given for think­ing that they’ve only just done the bear. For no sooner has the Padding­ton se­quel been en­joyed, quite pos­si­bly mul­ti­ple times, when along comes the other one – Win­nie The Pooh.

But as mar­malade gives way to honey, and Lon­don for East Sus­sex wood­land, so too classy, all-fam­ily en­ter­tain­ment is re­placed by some­thing strictly for young­sters – and they them­selves may sti­fle a yawn.

Star­ring Ewan Mc­Gre­gor, Christo­pher Robin is a very oddly con­ceived film. For starters, it mustn’t be con­fused with last year’s Good­bye Christo­pher Robin, which was a se­ri­ous look at how AA Milne’s writ­ing of the Pooh books may have marred the real-life child­hood of his son, Christo­pher Robin Milne.

This is about the fic­tional Christo­pher Robin and his an­i­mate toys, all of them now in­ter­act­ing with a be­mused world out­side the Hun­dred Acre Wood. Like the Padding­ton films, it’s live ac­tion com­bined with CGI; un­like Padding­ton, this story’s con­junc­tion of real and fan­tas­ti­cal never re­ally gels.

Hav­ing left his friends for board­ing school, then served in the Se­cond World War, the adult Christo­pher (Mc­Gre­gor) is now a fam­ily man, work­ing as an “ef­fi­ciency man­ager” in a lug­gage com­pany. He’s be­come du­ti­ful and dull, over­come by work and responsibility, in dan­ger of alien­at­ing both his wife Eve­lyn (Hay­ley Atwell) and daugh­ter Made­line. Pooh and co are a dis­tant mem­ory.

But then some spilt honey and a lit­tle magic bring man and bear back to­gether. Through the re­union Christo­pher will re­dis­cover his sense of fun and re­turn his pri­or­i­ties to their proper place.

The moral is a stan­dard one (the fathers in both Padding­ton and Mary Pop­pins need to learn the same lessons), so it’s the jour­ney that counts. Un­for­tu­nately, with much of the screen time in­volv­ing Christo­pher and Pooh stum­bling around the woods, the man in a con­stant tizzy, the bear tum­bling out his fa­mil­iar pearls of dim-wit­ted wis­dom (“Peo­ple say noth­ing’s im­pos­si­ble, but I do noth­ing ev­ery day”), the ac­tion quickly be­comes weari­some.

Like­wise, the con­fronta­tions be­tween Christo­pher and his hor­rid boss (Mark Gatiss) are pretty fee­ble. It’s only when Pooh’s friends en­ter the fray, es­pe­cially scene-steal­ing Tig­ger, that the film be­comes comic and charm­ing. Along with the ap­peal­ing an­i­ma­tion, with its stuffed-toy tex­ture, it’s these col­lec­tive scenes that will en­gage young au­di­ences.

The tal­ent be­hind the cam­era makes one won­der why there isn’t more sub­stance. Di­rec­tor Marc Forster en­joyed greater suc­cess with Find­ing Nev­er­land, about JM Bar­rie’s cre­ation of an­other chil­dren’s clas­sic, Peter Pan. And the writ­ers all have an edge in their work that’s miss­ing here. Mc­Gre­gor is as game as ever, with his in­nate ex­u­ber­ance nicely com­ing into play as the old Christo­pher starts to re­assert him­self.

The Equal­izer 2 (15)

IN its way, The Equal­izer 2 is just as out­landish as the Pooh. Den­zel Wash­ing­ton reprises his role as Robert Mc­Call, the for­mer govern­ment in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive turned vig­i­lante, a man with a cud­dly sense of com­mu­nity which, lamentably, he de­fends through ex­treme vi­o­lence.

No film in­volv­ing Wash­ing­ton is wholly un­watch­able. Few ac­tors make right­eous­ness as in­ter­est­ing, and his Mc­Call is a typ­i­cally nu­anced cre­ation – OCD-suf­fer­ing, sanc­ti­mo­nious, but a well-mean­ing and re­source­ful one-man fight­ing ma­chine. The prob­lems ex­ist elsewhere, no­tably with script and di­rec­tion that un­suc­cess­fully strive to com­bine high moral­is­ing with gra­tu­itous vi­o­lence. Be­cause of their par­tic­u­lar play on au­di­ence emo­tions (who doesn’t want rapists to get their come­up­pance?), vig­i­lante films in­vari­ably leave a bad taste in the mouth.

The plot’s noth­ing: Mc­Call’s only friend is murdered, lead­ing him to add re­venge to his en­forcer’s sched­ule. The re­sult is pre­dictable at ev­ery turn, and sur­pris­ingly slug­gish de­spite the shards of con­trived and un­pleas­ant ac­tion.

Christo­pher Robin is brought to life by Ewan Mc­Gre­gor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.