Whimsical restoration: Poignant ‘Christopher Robin’ will resonate in young and old alike


    Christopher Robin. (Ewan McGregor) with his long time friend Winnie the Pooh in Disney’s live-action adventure CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. (Photo: Disney)

    Christopher Robin
    4 out of 5 Stars
    Director:
    Marc Forster
    Writer: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, Allison Schroeder, Greg Brooker, Mark Steven Johnson, A.A. Milne (characters), Ernest Shepard (characters)
    Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael
    Genre: Adventure, Drama
    Rated: PG for some action

    Synopsis: A grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) works obsessively at his job as an efficiency expert at Winslow Luggages. Looking to cut costs, or he’ll be forced to cut employees. Seemingly unaware that his marriage is hanging by a thread, Robin cancels yet another weekend getaway with his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) to crunch the numbers. Fortunately for Robin, his old friend Winnie-the-Pooh returns to remind him of what is truly important in life.

    Review: Last year’s “Goodbye Christopher Robin” was a fairly dour experience that revealed the real Christopher Robin’s uncomfortable relationship with his parents, fame and the imaginary version of himself following the massive success of his father’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

    Disney’s “Christopher Robin” is pure fantasy; the story as we wish it was. Frankly, I wasn’t excited to see the film. Did we really need a bit of revisionist history to make us fall in love with Pooh again?

    No.

    And yes.

    The film begins with Robin as a child bidding farewell to his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood as he is sent away to boarding school. It is the first of many bittersweet moments that make “Christopher Robin” a more interesting and emotionally involving narrative than I was expecting.

    Because we are seeing through Robin’s eyes, Pooh’s qualities initially feel annoying and troublesome. Not because Pooh has changed; because Robin has.

    “Christopher Robin” is never as dark as “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” but it isn’t the bit of fluff that I feared it would be. In fact, I found the film, particularly the middle section where Robin reconnects with Pooh and his old friends, to be beautifully written. I wanted to stay there in the Hundred Acre Wood for as long as life would allow.

    The final act of the film is a bit more predictable and is likely to be the section that younger audience members enjoy the most as Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore find themselves in London where, unlike in the Paddington films, the talking animals are an unusual and alarming sight to the locals. It is here that we see the slapstick humor and a more direct approach to the film’s themes replace the more lyrical aspects of the midsection.

    I didn’t think I would find much enjoyment in “Christopher Robin.” I certainly didn’t think I’d spend a large portion of the film brimming over with tears. I like surprises, particularly those that come from doing nothing and finding something wonderful in the process.

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