Hot Take: Simple and adorable, the return to The Hundred Acre Wood is as soft and fluffy as you’d imagine its source material.
Part of me wishes Christopher Robin would have come out during the colder months. The way this film, featuring a grown up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) who has turned his back on Pooh and Friends in favor of adult things, eventually warms your heart and soul would be better than chicken noodle soup on a cool, fall day. Likely to be more satisfying to adult audiences but also appealing to children still growing up with the characters of Winnie the Pooh and the rest of the inhabitants of The Hundred Acre Wood, Christopher Robin would be a nominee for Movie With The Biggest Heart if Oscar decided to expand their Award subjects even further.
Christopher Robin opens with young Christopher (Orton O’Brien) spending his last day in The Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh and Friends. They’re all there: Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Owl and, of course, that willy nilly silly old honey loving bear Winnie the Pooh. Robin is being shipped off to boarding school as his parents, especially his father, feel he needs to grow up. While at boarding school, Christopher’s father dies and his forced to grow up even quicker. Fast forward, Christopher spends time in the British Army during World War II, gets married to architect Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and has a daughter named Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). Now, Christopher works as an efficiency expert at Winslow Luggages and is faced with decreasing expenditures by 20% or force layoffs to save the company enough money to remain profitable. The cuts must be found over the weekend which forces Christopher to cancel plans to accompany his wife and daughter back to wear he grew up on a weekend vacation. Meanwhile, back at The Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh wakes up to find all of his friends gone. Alone and concerned, Pooh finally crawls through the hole in the tree where he last saw Christopher Robin and lands in London next to Christopher Robin’s home. The two are reunited but Pooh is not met with the excitement of the past but rather frustration as Christopher’s weekend is expected to be filled with work and he has no time for Pooh’s silly antics.
Credit McGregor for an excellent performance as the grown up Christopher Robin. The voice work is also phenomenal including Jim Cummings as both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. Cummings replaced Hal Smith as Pooh in 1988 and replaced Paul Winchell as Tigger in 1989. Comedian Brad Garrett has stepped in to voice Eeyore and does an awesome job capturing the toy donkey’s deep depressing tone. Peter Capaldi of Doctor Who fame takes on Rabbit and venerable character actor Toby Jones voices Owl. Rounding out the voice actors are Nick Mohammed as Piglet, Sophie Okonedo as Kanga and Sara Sheen as Roo. All of the voices capture the essence of the animated Disney adaptations with the familiarity of Cummings as Pooh holding everything together.
The story is saccharin sweet but has enough edge to give it at least a shadow but not quite a dark side. There’s a lot of childhood magic between the existential crisis facing Robin’s adult self. It’s fun to watch McGregor bounce between exasperation and excitement as he’s slowly but surely reminded of what it was like to have the whole world in front of you rather than most of it behind you. And if you’ve come to see Pooh spout silly but sage sayings (and roll around in hunny… err… honey) there’s plenty of that, too.
It’s no surprise Disney has found another family friendly flick in Christopher Robin. This used to be Disney’s bread and butter before they owned every big box office property. (5 of the top 7 films of 2018 are courtesy of Disney following 4 of the top 8 films of 2017 coming from the House of Mouse.) The all ages film somehow nabs a PG rating for “some action” but it’s hard to find any reason why this film shouldn’t be rated G. It also should be rated A for “adorable” as the film might be the cutest film of 2018.
Winnie the Pooh! (And Tigger, too!)
You’re a Heffalump… or maybe a Woozle!