Pros: Some laughs, nostalgia done well
Cons: Somber tone, moral doesn't quite work
The Bottom Line:
Christopher grows up
Film packed full with nostalgia
But lacking whimsy
What If Christopher Robin Grew Up?
When I first heard about Disney's film Christopher Robin, I was skeptical at best. Granted, I'm not the biggest Winnie-the-Pooh fan (is a DisNerd allowed to confess that?), but I felt the film had the potential to be wonderful or bad. The previews convinced me to go see it, however, and I'm glad I did.
The movie starts on the last day that a young Christopher Robin (Orton O’Brien) spends with his friends in the 100 Acre Wood. After a heartfelt goodbye to these friends of childhood, Christopher returns to the real world, where he heads to boarding school, and is forced to grow up quickly thanks to the death of his father and World War II. Along the way, the now adult Christopher (Ewan McGregor) meets and falls in love with Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and the two have a daughter named Madeline (Bronte Carmichael).
As the film really begins, we see that Christopher is running the efficiency department in the luggage business of a huge company in London. However, this particular branch of the business is not doing well, and Christopher needs to find a way to cut expenses by twenty percent or have some of his employees be laid off. He's given the weekend to accomplish this - a weekend he was supposed to be spend with Evelyn and Madeline in the country. No one is happy when the two of them set out alone.
Meanwhile, in the 100 Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) awakens one day to find his friends have vanished. In his attempt to find them, he stumbles into our world and finds the adult Christopher Robin. What will happen next?
Make no mistake about it, this movie will tug at your heart strings. I was fighting tears early on as we saw the montage of Christopher's life between his meetings with Pooh, and they threatened another time or two along the way. It was this melancholy feeling that made me hesitant to watch the movie in the first place.
However, the film is also quite funny. Pooh's reactions to London and human's reactions to him produce some great laughs. The rest of the animal characters have some fantastic one-liners, too. As melancholy as Eeyore can be, he gets some of the best lines in the entire movie.
And the animal characters look fantastic. They are computer animated, but they are rendered to look like they are stuffed animals come to life. It is amazing, and completely believable.
The actors, whether voice only or appearing in human form, are all fantastic. Ewan McGregor gets a special shout out since he spends so much of the movie acting opposite a computer animated bear of very little brain.
Those who love these characters will definitely get nostalgic watching the film as there are many references to classic moments from the books or the movies as we go along. Even though Disney's version of Winnie-the-Pooh isn’t' my favorite, I couldn't help but smile at all the moments they got right in this film. This includes the fact that we get a brief nod to Gopher, but don't actually see him. After all, he's not in the book, you know.
Honestly, my biggest issue with the film was the moral. Don't get me wrong, I approve of spending time with family and friends and not devoting your entire life to working. I just feel like it is becoming a bit of a cliché as a moral for a story. In this case, it made the story a bit predictable. I was especially bothered since Christopher Robin was given an impossible task on a Friday. While we get the impression that he did spend more time working than with his family, I feel like his boss was more to blame than he was, yet the movie doesn't cut him any slack for that.
Even more than that, I think the film lacks some of the wonder, joy, and whimsy of the original stories. And I think that is what keeps me from giving it my full recommendation.
I'm glad I went to see Christopher Robin, and I did enjoy it. If you love the characters, it is definitely worth a look. But the more serious tone will keep it from becoming as beloved as the other books and movies featuring Winnie-the-Pooh.