Marc Forster (director)
1h 44m (length)
16 August 2018 (released)
21 August 2018
On paper it’s a film for the kids, but grown-ups may also have their heads turned by the idea of an impromptu catch-up with Winnie the Pooh.
After all, Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) isn’t the only one in need of a dash of childhood nostalgia. But far from a light-hearted trip down memory lane, Disney’s Christopher Robin will leave you despairing at your boring, responsibility-laden, constructed adult life. Cheers, Pooh.
Anything was possible in the Hundred Acre Wood, but Christopher’s grown-up reality is anything but magical. He works in the efficiency department at a luggage company in post-war London, and business isn’t exactly booming. Funnily enough, holidaymakers are pretty scarce after a World War.
Under tremendous pressure to keep the company afloat, Christopher works long hours and is forced to bail on a countryside getaway with his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). Evelyn is sick of her husband’s strict work ethic and Madeline, whose father is hell-bent on giving her a boarding school education, hasn’t the foggiest idea how to have fun. So who better to remind Christopher of the carefree young boy he once was? Why, Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings), of course.
Like Christopher, older viewers will undoubtedly be affected by their own reunion with that silly old bear. Pooh’s view of the chaotic real world means there are laugh-out-loud moments aplenty.
“Why is he in a cage?” he asks Christopher of the train ticket salesman, while the vast majority of us will harbour a longing for Pooh’s luxurious sleep-eat-repeat routine. Adults will also find they now relate far more to the miserable Eeyore (Brad Garrett), and giggle at his self-deprecating demeanour.
McGregor gives a sympathetic portrayal of Christopher, while a voice cast including Nick Mohammed (Piglet), Peter Capaldi (Rabbit) and Toby Jones (Owl) perfectly capture the essence of A. A. Milne’s beloved characters. However, the simplistic story slacks on fun-filled group encounters, and may be too slow to keep children engaged.
Given the fact the screenplay is courtesy of writers including Tom McCarthy and Allison Schroeder – the brains behind Spotlight and Hidden Figures, respectively – it’s a surprisingly underwhelming plot, which trundles along as various characters and things are lost and found accordingly. It’s also a pity that Atwell is given next-to-nothing to do in terms of content.
Fluffy scenes involving Pooh and his friends counter the clunky story to some degree, but the problematic, recurring message is impossible to avoid.
Perfectly summarised by the bear himself: “Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something.”
While Christopher Robin’s family and stuffed childhood companions are perplexed as to why he’s doing paperwork instead of playing Pooh sticks, back in the real world, we feel his pain, and won’t swallow this unjust painting of a workaholic old grump.
Wouldn’t we all like to let loose and holiday with family regardless of tricky circumstances? Children may lap up this idealistic utopia. As for the rest of us, who know better, Christopher Robin’s predictable journey from stressed employee to life-loving family-man, will likely leave a bitter taste.