Disney’s Christopher Robin tells a story that’s as sweet as honey, filled with Winnie the Pooh’s trademark wit and wisdom.
Many of our readers probably grew up with A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories. But what if there was a Winnie the Pooh story where the characters were actually grown up? That’s precisely what the premise is for Christopher Robin. But this isn’t the Christopher Robin you’re likely to remember. He’s no longer filled with wide-eyed wonder. Now, he wears a suit and tie and has left his adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood behind. Seemingly more interested in his job than anything else in life, will he still be able to rediscover his inner child when his friends and family need him most?
Ewan McGregor plays the title role, and he puts in a reliably good performance throughout. No surprises there then – he’s a safe pair of hands and he carries the movie comfortably. It’s Christopher Robin as a character where audiences might start to find things frustrating. Being blunt, he really is a boring old so-and-so now. He only cares about his work, he has no time for his daughter, and even his wife is getting fed up of him. It’s a necessary plot point, but he changes very, very quickly. The film opens with a somewhat uneven montage (broken up by illustrated animations) that rattles through some major key events. It gets us to the good stuff faster, but it also feels like quite a drastic turn for such an iconic character. Oh, bother. But luckily, there’s an old friend waiting in the wings, ready to help remind Christopher about the fun he seems to have forgotten…
People Say Nothing is Impossible
Let’s not beat around the bush: Winnie the Pooh is amazing in this film, and absolutely the reason you should want to go and see it. Jim Cummings is back to provide his voice and, honestly, he steals the show. Almost every line that comes out of Pooh’s mouth is so nuanced and so perfectly delivered. He may be a silly old bear, but he delivers consistently thought-provoking, innocent wisdom that we could – and perhaps should – all learn from. So when he finally reunites with his long lost friend, it’s just the wake-up call Christopher Robin (and by extension, the audience) needs.
Pooh isn’t the only resident of the Hundred Acre Wood though, and we’re pleased to report they all make an impression on the big screen. The likes of Tigger and Piglet are exactly how you’d imagine them, full of energy and fear respectively. Eeyore (voiced by Brad Garrett) actually gets some of the movie’s biggest laughs – his dour, depressing outlook is brilliantly melancholy at times. Toby Jones (the Dream Lord from Amy’s Choice) does perfectly well as Owl, and Peter Capaldi stars as the voice of Rabbit. You’d be forgiven for not recognising him straight away though, as he doesn’t actually use his ‘normal’ voice here. Think a higher pitched version of Mr Curry from Paddington instead. He’s only used sparingly, but when he is on screen, it’s a solid performance as ever (but we’d expect nothing less!).
But I Do Nothing Every Day
Speaking of Paddington, it’s clear that Christopher Robin is trying – and mostly succeeding – to copy the magic of those movies. Pooh and friends are brought to life through CGI, wonderfully animated as walking, talking ‘stuffed animals’. What is it about Peter Capaldi starring in heartwarming tales with computer-animated bears, eh!? This leads to some obvious humour when they cross over to the ‘real’ world, and it works much better than it ought to. The main similarity between the films though is the intended impact and message. Just like Paddington 1 and 2, Christopher Robin is a story as sweet as honey, backed up by feel-good nostalgia. The only real difference is the setting. Whereas Paddington is a contemporary tale set in a bright and vivid London, Christopher Robin is a slightly more washed-out looking period piece. A bit like its title character, we suppose…!
While on the surface the story’s about saving Christopher Robin’s job, it’s actually about saving his soul. Mark Gatiss also makes an appearance, channelling his inner Mycroft to play the slippery ‘villain’ of the piece. But in truth, the real enemy is time and growing up. By the end, Christopher must rediscover himself if he is to save everyone and everything he holds dear. There are a few niggling plot holes along the way, but the performances and the gorgeous cinematography manage to sell it nevertheless. It’s not quite perfect, and it’s often predictable, but Christopher Robin is a harmless film that’s enjoyable to watch. It walks a fine line between reality and fantasy, but worry not – you’ll have the wit and wisdom of Winnie the Pooh to help guide your way.