The magic of childhood and nostalgia is very hard to beat, and sometimes comes in handy when remakes, reboots and revivals of childhood favorites are done well. This time around, instead of giving us a straight up adaptation of “Winnie the Pooh”, Disney decided to ask the question as to what would happen to Pooh and his friends and Christopher Robin when Christopher grows up. The result is a family friendly movie that’s as sweet and light as the honey that Pooh loves, blanketed in the lush storybook like cinematography of the English countryside, but with a predictable story line and moral lesson that takes it sweet time to get there. Interestingly enough, this movie is for adults just as much as it is for children, and is straight up enjoyable, but not the type that you would go for a second round for.
To be honest, one of the reasons I decided to watch this movie was mostly due to nostalgia and as I was curious as to how they would make Pooh and friends look like in a live action adaptation. Pooh, alongside all of his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, just like Paddington Bear and his friends, are deeply ingrained in my childhood, so I just couldn’t help but watch this film, especially as I’ve seen MOST Winnie the Pooh movies with the exception of the 2011 one. (I also haven’t seen the “Paddington” movies, and I think that I should rectify that soon.) I was really happy with what I was given, although I wasn’t fond of the more muted color scheme.
“Christopher Robin” follows a grown up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), who is now married and has a daughter, and who seemingly has forgotten about the joy and simplicity of life. After he decides to stay home instead of going to the countryside with his wife and daughter during a summer weekend in order to work on a big presentation that coming Monday, inexplicably, his old friend Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) shows up and throughout there adventures together, Christopher is reminded of what is truly important in life.
Ewan McGregor is always a pleasure to watch on screen, and he didn’t disappoint at all at playing the grown up Christopher Robin. Casting Hayley Atwell next to him was great, although she really didn’t have much to do here. Mark Gatiss usually pops up in things and gives it all he’s got, whether he’s the mysterious and annoying Mycroft Holmes, or the childish clumsy character he played here.
Getting back Jim Cummings to voice Pooh and Tigger was definitely a coup in itself as I’m pretty sure that no one can voice these two characters as well as Cummings does. In fact, a large part of the movie does bank on this, and Pooh’s interactions with the outside world and the grown up Christopher. Nick Mohammed did well voicing Piglet, and I would have loved to have seen more of Owl (Toby Jones), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sara Sheen) and Rabbit (Peter Capaldi). I do wish that they had used Capaldi more here, and I would have loved to have seen Rabbit and Tigger bicker like they usually do. Brad Garrett’s Eeyore, however, was amazing, and it reminded me that Eeyore’s one liners, even in the books, tv show and movies, usually steal scenes.
With regards to how Pooh and his friends looked, I really didn’t have much of an issue with it, although I wasn’t too fond of the more muted color scheme and I did wish that they looked a little bit more like stuffed animals, especially in the case of Rabbit and Owl.
The cinematography here was good, with its lush storybook English countryside contrasting the gloominess and harshness of London.
The movie and story line itself was a slow burn, and the ending didn’t really feel as earned as I would have wanted it to be. The moral lesson of the movie was predictable and one that has been told many times in more inventive ways, but it was interesting to see them take these beloved characters and create an original story around it instead of the usual vignettes that are tied by a unifying theme or plot device, which is found in most Pooh related movies and is probably what gives it its charm.
Now, you know the drill, from here on out, there will be spoilers!
As mentioned earlier, the moral lesson of the story was a good one, although it has been done before- that we tend to be so busy that we end up forgetting what’s truly important in life and the simple joys that life can give us, and to never forget our childhood and to never lose that spark of imagination in us. This definitely is a good reminder for us in our busy world of today, which is why, more than it being a story for children, I do think that “Christopher Robin” is a film more for adults than children. If you want your children to experience the magic of “Winnie the Pooh”, show them the animated movies, the tv show “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, and let them read the books.
I did like the character journey that Christopher took in regaining his childhood, the simple joys, and realizing what is really important to him, although it was very much on the nose and heavy handed. It was very interesting how he ended up realizing that in a way, he had become a “Heffalump and Woozel” himself, as he only focuses on work and encourages his daughter to do schoolwork instead of playing outside, which children should do.
The interactions between Pooh and Christopher were great, and based on the history that these two have with each other, it was just a little bit heartbreaking when Christopher got mad at Pooh and then Pooh suddenly disappeared. Christopher’s reunion with the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood gang and him getting his spark back by literally beating up his suitcase, was heavy handed but was necessary for the film.
However, afterwards, when it was Christopher’s daughter’s turn to have her adventure with Pooh and friends, that’s where the movie and story felt weak, and the ending didn’t really feel that earned in the end.
All of the performances were good but nothing really stood out. In fact, aside from that scene in which Christopher got mad at Pooh, the only other scenes that made me teary eyed were when they said goodbye to a young Christopher at the beginning of the movie, and whenever they played the instrumental version of the “Winnie the Pooh” theme.
As mentioned earlier, I did wish that the other characters were used more in this movie. In the past, I believe that utilizing the entire gang was possible due to the fact that their movies were basically two or more short stories tied around a basic theme or a basic plot device.
It was also wonderful how they were able to incorporate the dialogue from the original Pooh stories into the movie, and had a lot of nods to the books, which included Tigger’s song, and Pooh’s morning exercises.
The cinematography in this film was great, especially when it came to the Hundred Acre Wood itself. It was also very interesting how they decided to give us a montage of Christopher’s life growing up in the form of chapters and using illustrations based on EH Shepard’s drawings. That part was really good.
One thing that really threw me for a loop though was the fact that others could see and hear Pooh and his friends move around and talk. I was always under the impression that Pooh and his friends were just in his imagination, and he could pass on those stories to his wife and daughter; but at the same time, I also didn’t mind that it was an actual place.
In the end, “Christopher Robin” is a family friendly film that is more for adults rather than children, as it not only allows us to say “hallooo” to some very old friends, but reminds us about the simple joys in life and what is most important to us in life, especially in the frantic pace of today. This film was light and sweet, although predictable and with a rather languid pace. Because of that, this film will be more enjoyed by those that grew up in the Hundred Acre Wood, more than children who experiencing these characters for the very first time.
Have you seen “Christopher Robin”? What did you think of it? Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Image Source: Disney PH