Directed by: Marc Forster
Premise: A grown up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is consumed by his career and neglects his wife and daughter. He is visited by his childhood friend Winnie the Pooh and rediscovers the joys of play.
What Works: There is much to admire in Christopher Robin on a technical level. The film has a terrific music score by Jon Brion and Geoff Zanelli that mixes delicate themes with a sense of fun and adventure. It is also well shot by cinematographer Matthias Koenigswieser. The visual texture pops off the screen and the scenes in the Hundred Acre Wood have an organic feel. The most impressive aspect of Christopher Robin is Winnie the Pooh and his friends. This movie is primarily live action while Pooh and company are digital characters. The residents of the Hundred Acre Wood look like stuffed animals come to life and the effect is entirely convincing. The digital characters blend seamlessly into the live action environment and the filmmakers present them in a way that isn’t silly or creepy. The animals are the most engaging part of Christopher Robin. There are moments between Christopher and Pooh that hit the intended emotional beats and Eeyore provides droll comic relief.
What Doesn’t: It’s unclear who Christopher Robin was made for. Although this movie is intended to be a family friendly fantasy it is not likely to play for children nor is it serviceable for adults. The look, tone, and themes of Christopher Robin place it closer to the 2009 live action version of Where the Wild Things Are than to the 2011 animated Winnie the Pooh feature film. Like Where the Wild Things Are, Christopher Robin is not really a movie for children but rather a movie about childhood. The point of view of Christopher Robin is decidedly mature. It focuses on the titular character struggling to balance work and home life and rediscovering the simple joys of play. There’s nothing here for children to identify with nor is there enough going on to hold young viewers’ attention. But there’s not much to interest adults either. Very little actually happens in Christopher Robin. There’s little at stake and the story tries so hard to be whimsical but it rarely achieves that. As a movie for adults, Christopher Robin doesn’t have much to say about childhood or the value of play and most everything in it is obvious and trite. Many of the problems with Christopher Robin are embedded in its very concept. The story springboards off of the final moments of A.A. Milne’s classic children’s book but the very premise of Christopher Robin suggests that the filmmakers didn’t understand the book. The finale of Winnie the Pooh is about a young boy letting go of childhood to face the adult world. In Christopher Robin, the now grown man copes with adult problems by reverting to his childhood. The intent may be earnest but it feels childish and not in a good way.
Bottom Line: Christopher Robin is technically accomplished but it’s badly conceived. This film isn’t going to play for children nor does it offer much for adults. Viewers would be better off seeking out 2011’s Winnie the Pooh or 2017’s Goodbye Christopher Robin.
Episode: #711 (August 12, 2018)