Pooh story is be­set by script Hef­falumps, cast­ing Woo­zles

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - MOVIES - By Jane Hor­witz

In the 1920s, A.A. Milne gave a world reel­ing from World War I gen­tle books in­spired by his only child and the boy’s stuffedan­i­mal friends. The Bri­tish author ren­dered them in verse and prose, brim­ming with hu­mor and nes­tled among per­fect il­lus­tra­tions by E.H. Shep­ard.

Such books as “When We Were Very Young” and “Win­nie-the-Pooh” were great gifts, but their suc­cess took a toll, as the well-in­ten­tioned but flawed film “Goodbye Christo­pher Robin” aims to show. Christo­pher Robin Milne — called by his nick­name, “Moon,” in the film — had a painful pub­lic child­hood. His fa­ther felt guilt about that, and he saw his lit­er­ary am­bi­tions lim­ited by “Pooh.”

In­spired by Ann Th­waite’s 1990 bi­og­ra­phy of the author and the MPAA rat­ing: PG (con­tains dis­turb­ing bat­tle­field flash­backs, a non­graphic child­birth scene, emo­tional up­sets and school bul­ly­ing) Run­ning time: 1:41 Opens: Fri­day mem­oirs of Christo­pher Milne, the script, while well-re­searched, is stuffed with more shifts in time and tone than it can grace­fully han­dle. Though “Goodbye Christo­pher Robin” has mo­ments of de­light and even pro­fun­dity, and looks PBS-pretty, too of­ten it stum­bles.

From the triv­ial to the se­ri­ous — rang­ing from an awk­ward close-up of smudged makeup to in­con­sis­ten­cies of char­ac­ter — di­rec­tor Si­mon Cur­tis doesn’t pull the thing to­gether. Milne’s wife, Daphne (Margot Rob­bie), for ex­am­ple, is al­ter­nately por­trayed as flighty, dis­tant and af­fec­tion­ate, with each it­er­a­tion seem­ingly un­re­lated to the last.

Domh­nall Glee­son strug­gles, too, play­ing the writer as an in­tro­verted, shell­shocked vet­eran whose moods shift abruptly. As Moon, Will Til­ston seems al­ter­nately stilted and hes­i­tant. Stephen Camp­bell Moore and Kelly Macdon­ald fare bet­ter, de­liv­er­ing un­der­stated per­for­mances as Milne’s friend Shep­ard and the boy’s nanny, re­spec­tively.

Yet there are plea­sures. Fa­ther and son have a charm­ing time bond­ing. One mem­o­rable se­quence shows Milne and Shep­ard wan­der­ing in the Sus­sex coun­try­side with lit­tle Moon and his bear in tow. While the boy plays, the men imag­ine life in the Hun­dred Acre Wood. Then these fel­low vet­er­ans gaze out on the val­ley and try not to let it re­mind them of bat­tle­fields past. Jane Hor­witz is a free­lance writer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.