Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss
Director: Marc Forster
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: In the heartwarming live action adventure “Disney’s Christopher Robin,” the young boy who loved embarking on adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with a band of spirited and loveable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.
With so many renditions of the Winnie the Pooh stories in the past, it is hard to get a truly unique idea out there that with characters that have been built up for so long. While Christopher Robin may not have the most original story ever, it nails the tone and framing of the situation and adds elements to a franchise that I have never seen before. While this may not be the Winnie the Pooh movie your family was expecting, it one of the of the most heartwarming and relatable Disney movies in recent memory.
The film follows Christopher Robin (McGregor), who has grown up since his time in the Hundred Acre Woods and has moved on to more adult responsibilities such as his job and his family. When Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) wakes up and cannot find any of his friends, he travels to find Christopher Robin so that he can help Pooh find his friends. While Pooh gets Christopher to help him on his quest, Pooh helps Christopher with his personal problems and helps him remember the qualities that made him so great in the first place. One of the things that really stands out in the first half of the movie is just how adult the film is. The accuracy with which this film portrays the transition from childhood to adulthood and the acceptance of our real responsibilities is haunting, emotional, and not anticipated from a film like this. This results in real conflict between Pooh and Christopher, something we have not seen in any previous adaptations and something that made the film feel much more real. McGregor is incredibly convincing in the lead role and showcases his talent by allowing us to understand the personal struggles that he is going through, but also that you cannot help but want Christopher to make the right decisions, especially after some of his behavior towards Pooh. Seeing characters who are actually flawed instead of ones who have minor, childish problems is a breath of fresh air for a genre like this, so good on this movie for challenging itself and choosing a different avenue for its characters. While the story itself is pretty standard within the context of children’s films, I was surprised at the depths at which the film went to so it could prove that point. One of the things I wish the film did a little better was I wish the camerawork was stronger. There are multiple scenes with characters running through the woods, and instead of showing us the action from the side or steadying the camera from behind, we get typical shaky-camera that I would expect in an action movie. Other than that, strong performances, interesting lighting effects, and a story that stuck with me for a while make Christopher Robin one of the most pleasant surprises of the summer.
Overall, Christopher Robin rides a unique line where kids will enjoy it because of the jokes and the characters that they are familiar with, but adults will identify with Christopher and his struggle to find balance in life between his work and his family. Outside of the serious moments, many of Pooh’s moments are unintentionally hilarious, and the supporting characters that come from the Hundred Acre Woods have their moments as well. Seeing these characters interact with the real world for the first time provides us with many moments that almost put this film on the same level as films like Paddington. Forster has a long and respected history of getting superb performances out of his actors and creating a world where we can empathize with the characters, and those talents are on full display here. I really did not see this film coming, and it shows us that Disney is still bringing its best when it comes to their live action adaptations.
Overall Score: 8/10