THE BIG RELEASE
DIDN’T we just have a film about Christopher Robin? Correct. But whereas last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin biopic focused on the childhood of AA Milne’s only son, Christopher, who was neglected by his parents then bullied at school, this Disney movie presents an entirely fictionalised version of events. Needless to say, it’s far cuddlier.
An overstuffed credits sequence takes audiences from Christopher and his last tear-inducing afternoon to hanging out with Pooh and the crew in The Hundred Acre Wood, to the harsh realities of boarding school and the Great War, through courtship, marriage and parenthood (with Hayley Atwell). We end up in post-World War II London with a middle-aged Mr Robin (Ewan McGregor) as the ‘efficiency manager’ in a luggage company run by Mark Gatiss. Phew.
Once we get here, the story snuggles down into a familiar template of a workaholic dad forced to rediscover his inner child and reconnect with his offspring. Enter an adorable computer-animated Winnie The Pooh (Jim Cummings, who voiced Disney’s original cartoon), who reappears with his pals Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore to wisely remind him of what’s really important. ‘Oh Pooh,’ tuts Christopher. ‘There’s more to life than balloons and honey.’ ‘Are you sure?’ says Pooh.
The schmaltz potential is sky-high but director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monster’s Ball) doesn’t lay on the honey too thick. Indeed, it feels like there’s a more interesting grown-up film trapped inside a formulaic family flick. The script throws out some utterly disarming one-liners and the animation is entirely enchanting.
Cancel that work meeting and buy a balloon on the way home.
An enchanting return to Hundred Acre Wood that’ll reduce nostalgic adults to tears
FILMS usually get British music festivals wrong — not so The Festival. Inbetweener Joe Thomas plays Nick, a neurotic graduate who, moping after being dumped (by real-life fiancée Hannah Tointon), is dragged by mate Shane (Hammed Animashaun) to the field of dreams.
It’s a simple set-up with a regular stream of laughs and comedic cameos, and there are enough sexual mishaps and stinky loos to amuse without turning the stomach. Supporting characters include Jemaine Clement’s overly proud stepdad, that girl who perpetually forgets having met you before, Claudia O’Doherty’s friendly Aussie festival obsessive and Emma Rigby’s spangled Smurf Girl.
Like festivals themselves, this isn’t for everyone, but if your ears are still ringing from a long weekend in a field, this is the summer silliness for you. Anna Smith