They Done Him Wrong: ‘Christopher Robin’ Falls Flat

Have I mentioned that Her Mom-ness is sometimes a bit of a mutterer? Especially when it comes to making a movie out of a well-loved book?

Her Mom-ness and The Kid went to see a movie last week. It had the unmitigated gall to pretend it was based on an A.A. Milne classic. (“Unmitigated gall.” Isn’t that a great mutter? Learned it from Mom.)

Anyway, this Disney release pretends to be about Christopher Robin and his boyhood buds from the Hundred Acre Wood. Or something. Except that now Christopher is all grown up. Living in London. He gets a surprise visit from his old buddy Winnie-the-Pooh. There’s a train. Lots of trees. Fog. A return to London.

The rest of the meandering, strained storyline has to do with Christopher’s return to the Hundred Acre Wood, fighting Heffalumps and Woozles and a sneering, shifty boss. Also Christopher’s guilt over reneging on a promise to spend a weekend at the cottage with his wife and daughter due to a work deadline.

“Moves with the alacrity of a three-toed sloth” Mom opined. She literally fell asleep during the first hour of this “snooze-fest.” Nodded off right there in the theater for a couple minutes. Woke up. Hadn’t missed a bloomin’ thing.

The movie can’t decide whether it’s a nostalgic look back or a “silly explanation” of present time. With honey. In the end, it just doesn’t work. And what’s up with that creepy neighbor dude and Gin Rummy?

“Virtually incoherent” Mom muttered. Is there a point here? Cuz now would be good.”

“Stick with the books,” Mom concluded, shaking her head. “You can’t go wrong with The Real Deal.” We both like Pooh better on the printed page. Way better.

The good news: I got a long walk and a game of frisbee in, post theatrical dud. With ‘nary a Mom Mutter along the way.

Is this place great, or what?

Have you ever been turned off by the movie adaptation or extension of a favorite story or book? Why?

 

 

 

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“Walk the Line” is a Keeper

I’m not what you’d call a “country music fan.”  At least I wasn’t until last week, when I saw Walk the Line (20th Century Fox, 2005) with the fam.   Line is the true story of country music legends Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon).  It’s a remarkable film.

Phoenix turns in a brilliant performance of the complicated, multi-faceted ‘Man in Black’ who finally turns his life around with the help of June Carter.  In an extraordinary thespian tour de force, Phoenix captures Cash’s driving “freight train” voice with a steely intensity that should’ve earned him a Best Actor Oscar.  He  has Cash’s unique style, mannerisms, posture, gestures and facial expressions down so well, it’s like looking at Johnny in a mirror.  Witherspoon is equally as impressive as the sassy, spunky Carter.  Both do their own singing.

In an era of car crashes, computer-generated graphics, earsplitting soundtracks or cheap theatrical gimmicks to draw in audiences, character-driven movies of this quality are as rare as the Hope diamond.  Walk the Line walks the extra mile – several, in fact – and relies on rich, three-dimensional characterizations, superb storytelling, great performances and dramatic conflict – both external and internal – to ably round out this inspiring story of an American icon.   “I know that one!” tunes like Folsom Prison Blues, Jackson, I Got Stripes and Ring of Fire are peppered throughout.  So are “cameo appearances” by “Jerry Lee Lewis”, “Waylon Jennings”, “Roy Orbison”, and “Elvis”.

Why it took me five+ years to discover this gem, I don’t know.  But “better late than never.”  Even my teenagers enjoyed Walk the Line (high praise indeed).

Any way you run it, Walk is a keeper.  It may even convert you into a country music fan.  Just don’t ask for my copy of It Ain’t Me, Babe.  I ain’t sharin’.

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