Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Toby Jones, Sophie Okonedo, and Mark Gatiss
“Silly old bear”. After a pleasant picnic and day of doing nothing, young Christopher Robin sits atop a grassy hillside with his best friend Winnie the Pooh. Christopher is leaving the Hundred Acre Wood to go to school and his friends are having a celebration to say goodbye. Then an event that is rarely explored in children’s stories happens, Christopher Robin goes to boarding school, gets married, goes to war, has a child, and grows old of childish things.
Director Marc Forster adapts author A. A. Milne’s poems about the lovable stuffed bear and fellow forest friends into a whimsical tale that stresses the importance of family and the bonds we have to the past. Mr. Forster approaches the story with a steady emphasis on the simplistic joy that the stories of Winnie the Pooh brought but also the harsh realities of adulthood.
Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) has grown into a preoccupied corporate specialist for a luggage company. Failing sales leads to Christopher being tasked with working an entire weekend to make cuts to personnel at his job, it also means that he is going to have to bail on a weekend getaway with his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael). But as Christopher is about to forget the lessons he learned as a child, his old friend Winnie the Pooh leaves the Hundred Acre Wood to find him in London.
“Christopher Robin” is functioning on pure nostalgia for a large majority of it’s 104 minute runtime. The story is simple and reminiscent of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Where the Wild Things Are” without the deeper complications or metaphors found in those films. Director Marc Forster focuses on telling a heartwarming tale and not much else; the film operates without much to worry about except to reacquaint and introduce viewers to a story about friendship with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet. It’s a sweet yet unfortunately hallow experience.
The computer generated composition of the furry characters is jarring at first but quickly turns into something quite amusing because it looks like the human characters are actually interacting with stuffed animals. The voice work is also nicely rendered; veteran voice actor Jim Cummings gives Winnie the Pooh the relaxed and easy-going demeanor the character is known for while Brad Garrett steals the show as the deadpanning Eeyore.
The character Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor, seems to be the biggest problem with the film. The overdone development of the character feels forced when compared with the simplistic tone the film is obviously aiming for. When Winnie the Pooh and friends join in the adventure the film takes on a mixture of wonder and whimsy that works very well. Once Christopher mets up with his childhood friends the film moves into a awkward realm that disregards the coming-of-age aspects and instead focuses on the rigors of adult life. It never finds the balance achieved when Winnie the Pooh and friends are left to their own guidance.
Still, there is something magical about the characters from the Hundred Acre Wood. When Christopher Robin returns, crawling back into the world he helped create as a child, it feels like you are entering the pages of the storybook. You begin to feel why these characters are so powerful even in their most basic structure. Call it nostalgia, call it movie magic, either way it’s a feeling that makes you forget about the real world for a short time. I wish the film did more of this, “oh bother”.
3.00 out of 5.00