Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Disney remakes Hook with A.A. Milne’s cast of characters in place of J.M. Barrie’s, catching up with Christopher Robin years after he left his friends behind him in the 100 Acre Wood because of the tragedy of having to grow up. Now a World War II veteran and a husband and father, Robin (Ewan McGregor) works as an efficiency expert for a luggage company under the management of a boss (Mark Gatiss) who takes advantage of his devotion and work ethic. Told that he must minimize the company’s workforce by 20%, Robin is ordered to give up his weekend plans and have a presentation ready by Monday morning, putting extra strain on his already threadbare relationship with disappointed wife (Hayley Atwell) and lonely daughter (Bronte Carmichael). Sending them away to their Sussex country home without going along, Robin sets down to work but is interrupted by the appearance of an old friend: Winnie The Pooh was awakened by the smell of honey from Robin’s kitchen and has followed his nose to his old friend’s doorstep. Now our hero must take Pooh back to his magical forest, which then reunites him with his old friends Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Roo and the always neurotic little Piglet, and gives him a fresh perspective on his current priorities. A lovely film that reconnects us all with our childhood fantasies, this one is bolstered quite a bit by the exceptional visual effects, which allow what look like tangible stuffed animals to come to life organically amid actors doing a lovely job of performing opposite them. Where it falters is in oddly combining a great deal of dark reality (including war scenes) alongside its indulgence in childlike naivete and then rushing the conclusion with a phony bid at slapping capitalism on the wrist without having worked out these tonal contradictions. McGregor is winsome but miscast in the lead, it’s hard to believe that he would ever lose any connection with his kind and considerate side (especially not with that floppy-haired toupee), so the pleasure of seeing his ice melt (in the vein of, say, Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins), is minimized by the fact that he has so little of it to begin with. The fantasy characters are the real stars, with Eeyore’s perpetual fatalism drawing plenty of laughs while Pooh’s guileless affection touches something deeply poignant.