Winnie the Pooh fans should be overjoyed with ‘Christopher Robin’
“Christopher Robin” is a fantastic family film. A live-action Disney movie starring Winnie the Pooh characters, it manages to capture the delicate tone and mood of the original A.A. Milne stories while creating an entirely new storyline.
The wit and whimsy of the source material are all still there as is the wisdom and wordplay. Winnie the Pooh fans should be overjoyed.
I’m sure there was more than a little trepidation among fans of the books’ original illustrations and fans of the original Disney animations about a film using actual stuffed animals for Pooh and company, but their concern was misplaced. Every one of them has the appropriately well-worn look of long-loved childhood treasures. And though they always look like stuffed animals, the characters adopt postures that make them seem very life-like, especially Pooh.
The film begins with Christopher Robin holding a goodbye tea party for all of his favorite toy animals as he heads off to boarding school. Rabbit and Kanga, Roo and Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and Owl are all sad to see him go. But nobody is as sad as Pooh.
“What should happen if you forget about me.”
“Silly old bear. I won’t ever forget about you, Pooh. Not even when I’m 100.”
Christopher Robin may promise not to forget about Pooh at 100, but what about age 40? The movie jumps ahead a few decades and a very grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is now a married father who spends most of his life working as an efficiency manager at a luggage company.
“You won’t be coming to the cottage?”
“Well, it can’t be helped.”
“You’re life is happening now, right in front of you.”
Meanwhile, back at the 100 Acre Wood, Pooh on a whim decides to visit the stressed-out Robin in London.
“What to do, what to do, what to do.”
“What to do indeed.”
“No … you can’t be here. I got stress.”
“It’s not stress, it’s Pooh.”
“I’m so exhausted. Madeline warned me.”
“I like to be warmed. Warmed and cozy.”
“I’ve cracked … I’ve totally cracked.”
“I don’t see any cracks. A few wrinkles, maybe.”
By the by, has wordplay ever been so earnest? In this exchange alone:
1. it’s stress/ no, it’s Pooh 2. warned/ warmed 3. cracked/ no cracks, a few wrinkles maybe.
Hewing closely to the traditional family movie template, the bulk of this film focuses on the adult Christopher Robin getting in touch with his inner child and re-calibrating his life in the direction of his own family.
But what’s refreshing here is how much fun his journey of discovery is.
The denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood are big-hearted innocents with strong, distinctive personalities and inadvertently hilarious things to say, especially Eeyore. In fact, so good is Brad Garrett’s Eeyore he practically steals the movie.
It’s Winnie the Pooh’s inadvertent wisdom that eventually wins over the grownup Christopher Robin, insights that seem directly pointed at the efficiency expert father he has become.
“People say nothing is impossible. But I do nothing every day.”
“I wonder which way?”
“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been.”
“That’s the way I do it.”
And when Pooh convinces Robin that “doing nothing often leads to the very best of something,” we know his one-time “efficient” life has taken a turn for the better.
It turns out that Christopher Robin does have a heart that’s as big as a Hundred Acre Wood, and so does this movie.