Some people strive for adventure. They look for ways to get their hearts racing, and to find things they’ve never done before. On the other side of that fence, there are those that find comfort in the familiar. They are happy to live in the world they have put around them, tranquil and peaceful. And then there’s Winnie the Pooh, who looks for that peace and comfort but tends to find himself on the best of adventures.
In this live-action story, we don’t have a retelling of the classic Winnie the Pooh stories, but rather the adventures of grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor). We begin in the familiar setting of the Hundred Acre Wood at a going away tea party. Christopher Robin is headed off to boarding school, and will not be back for a while. In the scenes that follow, Christopher Robin goes off to school, his father passes, then he meets his eventual wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), and daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). He goes off to war, then returns to become an Efficiency Manager for Winslow Luggage. During this time, Pooh is wandering the Hundred Acre Wood, waiting for Christopher Robin to return, when Piglet, Tigger, and the rest of his friends disappear. This sets Pooh on a journey to find Christopher Robin.
Christopher Robin is very much by the book and formulaic. There are no surprises to be had as you watch the film. That said, formulas are used because they work, and this movie is much more than the sum of its ingredients. There are real-world mirrors for most of the characters from Pooh’s Corner. Christopher Robin’s co-workers and neighbors share traits with his childhood animal companions. In addition, the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood are amazingly well done. The effects are seamless and beautifully rendered. Pooh and friends look beautiful in their live-action forms.
Comfort is a very important facet of this film. There’s plenty of nostalgia for those of us who grew up with the events and places of the Hundred Acre Wood. There are references that will bring a happy memory, the voice work by Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger is almost indistinguishable from the original. While Brad Garrett was easy to hear as Eeyore, he did a fine job in bringing the mopey donkey to life. There are plenty of goodies for the older viewers to enjoy, and quite a bit for younger viewers as well. The film did a fine job of world-building and explaining Heffalumps and Woozles, and in showing the attributes of all the animals in the Hundred Acre Woods so that newcomers won’t be left out.
This is a fun movie for kids, and for those of us that grew up with the stories of Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, and Roo. The magic is in how well the characters work, and in how well the story is told. There’s enough depth in the themes to reach every level of the viewer, and there’s plenty of humor from our favorite “Bear of little brains” and his way of describing the world. Sure, we knew there was a happy ending coming, but what’s wrong with that?
About Christopher Robin
Synopsis: A working-class family man, Christopher Robin, encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life.
Director: Marc Forester
Writers: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, Allison Schroeder
Stars: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett
Runtime: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes