Christopher Robin

August 16, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings
Directed by: Marc Forester (“Finding Neverland”)
Written by: Alex Ross Perry, (“Nostalgia”), Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”) and Allison Schroeder (“Hidden Figures”)

If you get a sense of déjà vu when you hear that there’s a new Winnie the Pooh movie called “Christopher Robin,” bear with us. Last year’s drama “Goodbye Christopher Robin” was a biopic on English Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne and the inspiration that led him to write children’s books. In “Christopher Robin,” we return to the fictional world of Pooh, 30 years after Christopher Robin (Orton O’Brien as a young Christopher) is sent to boarding school and leaves behind his fluffy friends in the Hundred Acre Wood in Sussex.

Ewan McGregor (“Moulin Rouge!”) stars as an adult Christopher, all grown up with a wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) and heaps of responsibility as an efficiency manager at a struggling luggage company in London. His daughter is heartbroken when he has to skip out on their family vacation because his boss orders him to overhaul the budget on his weekend off.

It’s a theme we’ve seen countless times before: the balance of work and home life, and a father who can’t seem to understand which is more important. None of it rings very original in “Christopher Robin,” although the scenario is more complicated since Christopher is faced with not only family obligations, but also having to “put away childish things” once again when the huggable, anthropomorphic Pooh comes for a surprise visit, which leads to Christopher traveling to Sussex to get him home.

Directed by Marc Forester, who explored this same type of narrative in the 2004 fantasy biopic “Finding Neverland” about Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie, “Christopher Robin” doesn’t break any new ground with its human characters, but there is plenty to love when Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang come out to play.

The appearance of these computer-generated, vintage-looking stuffed animals is flawless, and their interaction with Christopher provide some of the best examples where live-action meets animation in recent memory. It feels like the actors and animated characters are inhabiting the same realm, which is a testament to the incredible creativity and realistic design by VFX studios Framestore and Method Studios.

As a family-friendly film, some viewers might be a bit turned off by the gloomy, quiet nature of the picture as a whole (“Christopher Robin” is more “Where the Wild Things Are” than it is “Alvin and the Chipmunks”), but the charm is never lost when Pooh is delivering one of his clever Poohisms (“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day”) or even when Eeyore is sulking in sadness. If anything is impossible, it’s not being enchanted by the film’s many adorable qualities.

Jim Cummings – Winnie the Pooh (DVD)

November 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Interviews

For voice actor Jim Cummings, providing the voices for animated characters like Winnie the Pooh and Tigger has been one of the many highlights of his 26-year career. Cummings began voicing Pooh in 1988. Tigger came two years later.

While the characters were first animated in the 1960s by Walt Disney, Pooh and some of his lovable friends were first created in the 1920s by English author A.A. Milne.

“The thing about Pooh and Tigger and all the Hundred-Acre Wood gang is that they’re so iconic,” Cummings told me during an exclusive interview for the DVD/Blu-ray release of “Winnie the Pooh.” “They’re sweet little characters who care about each other. It’s about loyalty, friendship, honor and love. Those kinds of things never go out of style.”

Other characters in Cummings’ extensive repertoire include Taz the Tasmanian Devil, Darkwing Duck, and Ed the Hyena from “The Lion King.”

During our interview, Cummings, 59, talked about how he feel when studios hire voice talent based on name recognition and what advice he’s found useful straight from the tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff.

What has been so special about Winnie the Pooh and Tigger in comparison to the other voice work you’ve done in your career?

The thing about Pooh and Tigger and all the 100 Acre Wood gang is that they’re so iconic. They’ve been around forever. The characters aren’t tied to any fad. There were no skateboards or hip-hop or fashion involved. They are evergreen. They’re sweet little characters who care about each other. It’s about loyalty, friendship, honor and love. Those kinds of things never go out of style. There are no talking robots or flying wizards. They’re kind of in the same category as “The Wizard of Oz.” Everyone knows them and loves them and they’re safe, too. Parents can take their little 2-year-old or 22-year-old and know they won’t be seeing any Nazi surf zombies from Mars.

How did you feel about the new movie going back to the original 1960s style?

It was really nice. There have been some different styles of animation and different storylines over the years, but this one has a narrator and goes back to the characters running around on the page of a book and breaking the fourth wall. It’s everything we all fell in love with originally. The movie is just beautiful. You could put every frame of this movie in a picture frame. Let’s put it this way: Pooh Bear is a lot better than the Yogi Bear movie. Sorry about that Yogi.

Walt Disney executive and producer John Lasseter said he hoped the new film could “transcend generations.” Do you think it accomplished that?

Oh, I do, absolutely. It has some of the original music in it, but it’s also been updated with music by Zooey Deschanel. She did such a beautiful job. The songs are in the same style as the original. (Sings) “I’m just a little black rain cloud” or “Everything is honey…that’s alright with me.” It’s all those beautiful little melodies that if you find yourself thinking of them later on in the day, you don’t mind. Everything you liked about the original Pooh is back and better.

I’d hate to see this myself, but do you think Pooh could ever make a transition to 3D? I mean, they’re turning the Smurfs into 3D characters now, so why not Pooh?

Ugh, well, if they do, they’re going to be doing it without me. (Laughs) Winnie the Pooh wouldn’t call for 3D as much as other characters. I think turning Pooh into 3D would be gilding the lily, but if they do it I’ll watch.

Of all the characters you’ve voiced in your career, is there a specific one you’ve felt a deeper connection with than the rest?

Well, I’m probably closer to Tigger than I am to Pooh in real life, that’s for sure. But I love those two. I feel like it’s an honor to perform them and bring them along to new generations. Ray (the Cajun firefly) from “The Princess and the Frog” was also very dear to my heart. I love New Orleans. It’s my adopted hometown. But I’ve loved others as well like Darkwing Duck and Taz the Tasmanian Devil. It’s tough to start picking because I feel like I’m picking between my kids. I love them all.

I’m interested in hearing your take on studios casting big stars for animated films like Johnny Depp in “Rango” and Jack Black in “Kung Fu Panda.”

I understand it. They’re not all like Robin Williams in “Aladdin.” Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think studios do it sometimes because they like to get the publicity of saying they have someone like Mel Gibson or Jennifer Lopez in their movie. (Laughs) I’ll tell Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise that if they promise not to make any animated movies, I won’t be a leading man in any of their movies.

What advice has Pooh or Tigger given that you’ve used in your own life?

Well, you just gotta keep on looking at the world though honey-colored glasses. (In Tigger’s voice) And the best advice I could give ya’ is to just don’t forget to remember to keep on bouncin’!