Oh Disney, Disney, Disney….what are you up to these days? How much money can you ring out of each and every property that you have is kind of what it seems like. I have seen movies posters for this year alone for Toy Story 4, Live action Aladdin (with egad Will Smith making a fool of himself as Genie), and then Lion King, and last December’s Mary Poppins 2. But without touching on any of those above, I am speaking about Christopher Robin, with Ewan McGregor. I had heard the lukewarm reviews about this (somewhat) live action story about Pooh Bear and crew with an adult Christopher Robin. Ho Hum. Of course, what Disney story is ever complete without parental death? Christopher Robin has a quick review of young Christopher and his connection with Pooh, and he loses a parent, and then grows up and heads to school. He meets a young lady, has a child and takes on a War and then a job. He’s a busy guy. No time for dreaming and playing with bears of small brain. Ewan works for a twit who Monty Python would be proud to take ownership of, and he tells Ewan that he must “make cuts” in the luggage factory. Meanwhile his Wife and daughter were hoping for a holiday weekend. Then Pooh shows up in the real world. The rest moves predictably towards conclusion. For me, there just isn’t enough substance in the C.R. backstory. How many stories have we seen with the adult who needs to find their childhood innocence again (Peter Pan anyone?) And what about backstories to famous stories like Saving Mr Banks? It’s not satisfying here, and I almost feel like screaming “Is nothing sacred?” I am sure somewhere in Disney offices there is a bean counter pitching a Snow White 2, where she fights off the sister of the witch that she managed to kill (wait, we have had that story before too!). Or Pinnochio 2, Back To Donkey Island. I cannot recommend this, and it was just no enough entertainment. Thankfully a Netflix subscription is all it required.
So how about other nice little stories that wrap themselves up and into a neat little package with a bow on top? That would be Blake Lively in The Age of Adaline from 2015. We have seen Benjamin Button, and Time Traveller’s Wife and other time-based movies, and this one takes a woman in her late 20s and by some quirk of fate (and a ridiculous and unnecessary voiceover) she is frozen in her aging process and development. I won’t even try to justify the science that goes along behind it. Our poor Adaline (poor woman, looking like Blake Lively everyday) must suffer through day after day and eventually change her identity each decade for fear people realize her secret, and she gets whisked away to some government lab and treated as a specimen. And so she goes, and meets people and runs away before she makes any real connections. Her daughter grows up and beyond her. She meets a nice guy, and despite reservations chooses to meet with his parents. I won’t finish the rest. I don’t really need to. Those with a pulse can figure out much of the rest. Needless to say I was shaking my head at the ultimate resolution. You can choose if you want to go that far. I feel like Blake Lively is a little like a female Keanu Reeves. In the right role, with a fairly wooden character that doesn’t require a lot of depth, then she does alright. Her turn at A Simple Favour was decent. Her strutting around in an orange bikini for The Shallows, even better (it had to be said). But this was weak. I cannot recommend.
Finally this week the best of the lot was Eighth Grade. I have a Ninth Grader in the house, my youngest son. The film has very much a documentary feel about it almost. When you think about it, what does the life of the average 8th grader (13yo child) consist of? Most aren’t saving the world, like Ender’s Game, or meeting aliens in ET. They eat, they sleep, they go to school and have some activities and see friends. What is fascinating to me is the level of involvement with smart phones that this generation has. Or at least the young people in this movie. And before I spout off on, “when I was in Grade 8….I walked through 12 feet of snow..and had no internet or phone”. Well I HAD a phone but it was plugged into the wall at home. We all shared it. But it is interesting to watch the players in the class, from Mean Girls, to Uber-horny boy looking for naked selfies, and other younger versions of the kids from A Breakfast Club. Not a great deal happens, and that’s okay. The principal female we focus on is a delight. She is an outgoing, average young lady and she has personality and is pod-casting on YouTube. She talks about being yourself, and having confidence in a “do as I say, and not as I do” kind of way. Her Dad is a little too supportive and protective. Will my Grade 9 son like this? I am not sure. It might be a little too close to home. Or he may say it’s too Hollywood, but I doubt it. So if you have a young person near you, and you wonder sometimes what happens at school these days, this may provide some insight. I am glad that I am NOT this age again. Maybe it would be better to be Adaline and perpetually 29yo, but it wouldn’t be fun reliving Grade 8 in this current world. Check it out.