‘People say nothing is impossible. But I do it every day.’ Winnie the Pooh’s uncanny knack for nailing life’s imponderables with a quotable quote has made him an object of enduring affection for those who cannot quite let go of the simplicities of childhood. In Marc Forster’s reflective, comforting movie, we find Pooh at a loss for, like Puff after the departure of Jacky Paper, the little boy with whom the honey-loving bear spent countless happy hours, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), has grown up. Now supporting a wife and young daughter (Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael), Christopher is overwhelmed by the mounting problems of his job in London. Responsible for the tenure of employees, but unable to find cost-cutting measures that will save their jobs, Christopher is in a Dickensian bind. Taking refuge in a garden from an over-friendly neighbour, he is reunited with Pooh – it is a beautifully natural scene. From there Christopher is transported, through the trunk of an ancient tree, to the secret land where Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the other stuffed playmates still live. McGregor, an actor who always gives the impression that he has left boyhood not very far behind, is ideally suited to the part of a man who finds solace in his cherished past. As for the creatures – they perfectly embody the drawings of EH Shepard (could Pooh have survived as long as he has without those humble illustrations?). Equally important, the voicings are similarly ‘true’, in that Pooh (Jim Cummings) sounds exactly as you expect AA Milne imagined him. Likewise Piglet (Nick Mohammed) and the lugubrious donkey, Eeyore (Brad Garrett), who gets the funniest lines. The colour spectrum, in contrast to the recent, equally delightful Paddington movies, is subdued rather than vivid, because for much of the time the mood is of loss and, as Christopher finally realises what he values most, regret. Ultimately taking a high moral stance against greed and the tyranny of big business, this is a blissful film for all ages.
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