Disney’s newest adaptation of Winnie the Pooh could have been a disaster. It could have come off as corny or over the top. Christopher Robin, however, successfully charms, displays affection and invokes a sense of nostalgia when Winnie the Pooh and his friends are onscreen.
Christopher Robin is the simple tale of, you guessed it, Christopher Robin. Except, now he has grown up and started a family of his own. The film starts with a young Christopher Robin who is going off to boarding school, which means he’ll have to leave the Hundred Acre Wood behind. For adults familiar with the original stories, or even The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh from the late ’80s and early ’90s, the beginning scenes may be emotional as Christopher says goodbye to his friends.
Years later, we learn that Robin, who is played by Ewan McGregor, hasn’t thought about the Wood or his old friends in a long time and, as a result of fighting in the war and working to support his family, he no longer has time for fun or play. He has forgotten what was important during his youth.
The best moments are when Winnie the Pooh is seen and heard. This is truly what makes the film as sweet and compassionate as it is. His mannerisms, innocence, and one-liners make for some of the funniest moments. Pooh’s friends, of course, also help. The whole gang is present, but aside from the opening scenes, they are relegated to the second half of the movie. Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger and the others are true to form and their attitudes and quirks are instantly recognizable.
Christopher Robin doesn’t come without some fault. The scenes where it is just McGregor, or him at work or with family, are some of the most cumbersome in the movie. Not much happens and they’re only there to set the stage for who Christopher Robin has become after all these years. The real story doesn’t start until Christopher and Pooh, by some sort of chance or fate, meet again in London. McGregor, it would appear, is also not given much to work with. His script feels to be lacking, whereas Pooh steals the show.
The cinematography and scenery of the Hundred Acre Wood are, to say the least, captivating. It is beautifully shot and it would make any audience member, adult or child, want to wander and get lost. The serene nature and stillness can be felt and it is an uplifting experience.
What Disney did especially well would be its portrayal of Pooh and his friends. With the exception of Rabbit and Owl, all of the creatures look like stuffed animals. It is made clear that they’re meant to look this way, and they move as if they were stuffed, too. This adds to the charm.
It could be said that Christopher Robin is more for adults who long for simpler times, those which we all knew as children, without a care in the world. The children in the audience are just along for the ride as their parents relate to McGregor’s portrayal and rediscovery of what’s really most important in life.