Christopher Robin review
When it comes to the Disney characters, Winnie the Pooh may be the most liked. Some might say that Mickey Mouse or the Disney Princesses are more keen to the fairy tale image, but I've run into people who hate those characters. When it comes to Winnie the Pooh, I have yet to meet one person to hate the silly old bear. He ironically may be the most human of Disney characters, as he's optimistic, knowingly makes mistakes, and is even aware he's not that smart or "a bear of little brain". He also makes for a good observer within the 100 Hundred Acre Wood and his friends of Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Owl, and of course, Christopher Robin.
Within the original stories written by A.A. Milne, it's implied that Winnie the Pooh and his friends are all the imagined personalities of the toys that Christopher Robin played with. The Disney movies do a good job keeping that implication. In fact, one the better moments of the original animated classic has Christopher Robin talking to Pooh bear on what to do when he can no longer come back. The idea is explored further with the boy growing up in Christopher Robin.
Now a man in his forties, Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) may have a loving wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and a young daughter Madeline (played by Bronte Carmichael), but is swept up in his high-pressure job as an efficiency expert for a high quality luggage company. When he's asked to make major cuts, he has to withdrawal from taking his family north to his cottage in Sussex and remains in London. Upon stressing over his job, strained relationship with his family, and overwhelming responsibilities, he retreats to a bench where Winnie the Pooh (Played by Jim Cummings) happens to be.
Though happy Pooh bear has returned, he tells him he needs to go home. The both of them take the train north to Sussex and Christopher goes with Pooh back into the 100 Acre Woods when it's said that his other friends can't be found. He eventually does find Tigger (played by Jim Cummings), Eeyore (played by Brad Garret), Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Owl who think that Heffalumps and Woozles are after them. While there Christopher Robin is reminded why he kept coming back to the woods and his friends, but also forces him to rethink about his family and priorities.
The story for Christopher Robin is not a bad idea, and could have added more depth to these wonderful characters. Like the animated characters, the residents of the 100 Acre Woods are just as lovable and have some neat design within their translation to live action. Plus the woods and cinematography of old London look great. Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) knows how to makes his environments both dull and warm, depending on the need for the sake of the plot. I wouldn't mind taking a walk wherever this film was shot. But what about the story?
This is where the film falters. This is trying to be a cross of Hook and Where the Wild Things Are, which would be a great idea if our hero was interesting. Christopher robin as an adult is your typical overworked adult and when he changes, it's your typical man rediscovering his youth. It's fine, but I kept thinking that these characters could have played a bigger part in addressing his problems as an adult. Ewan McGregor does his best and is likable, only because I like this actor.
This is honestly a movie that's hard to hate. It still has the feel of the Winnie the Pooh stories and did transport me back to something I remember from the Disney movies. It's just the one flaw that I wasn't a fan of was when Pooh and his friends reveal themselves to Christopher's family as real. This does put a damper on the past, as I've always taken that his friends were a part of Christopher's imagination. Yeah, there are some fish out of water moments, but it never goes too far ALA Smurfs and such. The focus is still on Christopher and what he learns.
I'll give this three and a half honey pots out of five. I can't say that I was disappointed, but I still think this could have been better. Families will like this fine (though I'll warn there is a lot of office and business talk that may bore the younger ones) and Winnie the Pooh fans will be satisfied. I'm a fan of the character and I'll take it for what it is. So go see it for the willy, nilly, silly old bear.