Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, Allison Schroeder, Greg Brooker, Mark Steven Johnson
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Mark Gatiss
Review by Mia Santos
If you’re a Winnie the Pooh fan, then you’ll probably appreciate the film Christopher Robin more than your children will. Although they’ll be excited to see iconic characters such a Winnie the Pooh and his friends on the big screen, this film feels geared more towards adult Disney fans. This take on a Disney classic continues where the books and tv shows left off. With a similar story to the 1991 classic Hook, we are presented with a live action, grown-up version of Christopher Robin played by Ewan McGregor, tackling everyday adulthood and finding the inner child he’s lost along the way. Unlike the harrowing adventures in Neverland, this story is a lot slower. Taking it’s time to unfold which won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but worth a watch.
The film begins in Hundred Acre Wood where the animals are hosting a farewell party for Christopher Robin. The opening credits resemble a chapter in the vintage storybooks many of us grew up with. All the animals have done their part to make this final visit special for Christopher Robin with Piglet (Nick Mohammed) gifting him a small pouch of acorns, his favourite snack and Eeyore (Brad Garett) reading him a poem he wrote. It’s all very sweet and please know I was immediately sobbing right at the get-go. Christopher Robin thanks them all for attending but takes Winnie the Pooh aside and they go for a walk. Christopher Robin explains that he must leave his childhood behind because he will be attending boarding school. However, he is sad he won’t be able to do his favourite thing which is “nothing” anymore! He assures Winnie the Pooh he will always remember them and keep them in his heart.
Fast forward to a montage of Christopher Robin leaving for boarding school and growing up before our eyes. He endures some family tragedy, meets and marries his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell). He goes to war while she’s pregnant with their first child Madeline who he doesn’t get to meet until three years later and struggles connecting with. Upon his return from war, he gets a job with a company called Winslow Luggage. He spends many hours working overtime taking away from his tiny family.
Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), eager to build a better relationship with her father suggests he reads her a bedtime story. He picks up one of her boring school books instead. Not able to stand her father’s selection read out load, Madeline fakes being too tired, so he stops and leaves the room. It’s tragic seeing Christopher Robin as a boring, overworked father who’s not able to relate with his kid. But this storyline will resonate with many parents who may feel in the same boat.
On the eve of a weekend getaway, Christopher Robin has planned with his family to visit the cottage he grew up in. He is told by his boss he will have to work over the weekend. Due to lack of sales, it is now up to Christopher Robin to cut 20% of costs within the company and possibly let go of employees within his department. Crestfallen, Christopher Robin heads home to deliver the bad news. Evelyn, fed up with being chosen second to his job tells Christopher Robin she and Madeline will still be going away without him. She lets him know that they are growing distant and he is missing out on Madeline’s childhood and needs to be more present.
The morning before Evelyn and Madeline set out to the cottage, Madeline finds a small box of the items the animals gifted Christopher Robin at his farewell many years ago and a drawing he did of them. She leaves him a note along with a drawing letting him know he draws well and would like to know more about this childhood. Running late, Christopher Robin sets it aside, spilling honey on the drawing and magically summoning Winnie the Pooh who awakens in Hundred Acre Wood to a thick fog and his friends, nowhere to be seen. Pooh eventually is lead to Christopher Robin’s door in the hollow tree that takes him to London, England. He is then, by chance, reunited with Christopher Robin again.
This is where the film Christopher Robin gets more exciting! Eventually, these two, lost characters reconnect. They embark on an adventure where Christopher Robin rediscovers his childhood, love for doing “nothing” and eventually being present for his family while Pooh is reunited with his friends. The reunion between Christopher Robin and Pooh is touching. Christopher Robin, shocked to see Pooh exclaims “I’ve cracked!” Pooh calmly replies “Oh, I don’t see any cracks. A few wrinkles maybe.” Seeing Pooh who is voiced by OG voice actor Jim Cummings, and his friends aloofly wander around the bustling streets of London is done really well. They’re magical, animated, stuffed animals similar to Seth McFarlane’s film Ted except, shocking civilians when they spot them moving around on their own. This is the late 1940s after all so this is considered some witchcraft level sorcery.
Madeline’s character is also eventually incorporated into the story more helping return some important papers to her father with the help of Eeyore, Tigger (Jim Cummings), and Piglet. I think she’s a darling addition and allows this story to flourish. She tugs at the heartstrings of the viewer. Also encouraging children to not grow up so quickly and let life overwhelm them. The film goes from a bit of a bore to a rekindled Disney adventure full of laughter, more nostalgia, some tears and tender moments reminding us to tap into our inner child, slow down and have fun every once and awhile.
See it! This is a family-friendly film that holds a lot of valuable lessons that will resonate with parents who may reconsider investing more time in their families. It will also resonate with those of us who aren’t parents but have let our responsibilities overwhelm us and take priority over our passions and relationships. Regardless of any age, the film will be a delight for young and old. For some, it will feel a little played out at first but stick with it as the second half picks up! For those of you who get emotional during movies, you will need those tissues during this one! Stay for the end credits as well! There is a cute mid-end credit scene you shouldn’t miss!