I had the opportunity today to see a film that has a strong appeal for children, judging by the number of small kids in the theater, and yet attracts adults as well. I love the stories of Christopher Robin and his stuffed animal friends as they have adventures in the 100 Acre Wood. Winnie the Pooh, mostly known as just Pooh, may be a bear with little brains, but he is a wise bear and a incomparable friend.
Christopher Robin stars Ewan McGregor, Orton O’Brien, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss and the voices of Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Peter Capaldi, Nick Mohammed, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen and Toby Jones. This adventure comedy, directed by Marc Forster, carries a PG rating, for action and adult themes, and has a run time of 1 hour and 44 minutes.
During the opening credits of this charming family film we see “chapters” of Christopher Robin’s life as he grows from boyhood (O’Brien) to adulthood (McGregor). His beloved friends, Pooh Bear and Tigger (both voiced by Cummings), Rabbit and Owl (voiced by Capaldi and Jones), Eyeore (voiced by Garrett), Kanga and Roo (voiced by Okonedo and Sheen) and Piglet (voiced by Mohammed), join Christopher Robin as he roams the 100 Ace Wood, exploring the terrain and his place in the world.
As children do, Christopher Robin grows up, heading first to boarding school, then meeting his wife Evelyn (Atwell) before he serves his country during WWII. He at last returns home to his wife and young daughter Madeleine (Carmichael), a changed man. Long forgotten are his happy memories of Pooh and Piglet and the woods.
As a man with a family and responsibilities, Christopher Robin loses himself and his joy in a menial job, selling luggage to England’s wealthy travelers. His overbearing boss Giles (Gatiss) expects Christopher to sacrifice family time for the sake of the company.
During another working weekend, in which he sends his family on holiday without him, Christopher Robin is shocked to see his old friend Pooh in London. The bear can’t find his friends, back in the woods, and he has come to ask the boy he once knew for help. Pooh is disheartened to discover little of his playful and imaginative companion in the serious and harried man. And Christopher Robin is initially more flustered than happy to see his silly old bear. Gradually though, as the two set off to find Piglet, Eeyore and the others, something stirs and awakens in Christopher Robin.
Can the man reconnect with the creative boy he once was? Is it too late to bring restoration to his family? And where are the rest of his childhood companions? Could it be that there are heffalumps in the 100 Acre Wood after all? The adventure becomes about so much more than finding his scruffy looking animals. It is a search for Christopher Robin’s heart and soul and happiness.
This is an incredibly sweet and nostalgic film for anyone familiar with Winnie the Pooh. Using CGI for the animals, the stuffed ones and Owl and Rabbit, this movie cleverly blends the Disney animation characters with the older style illustrations from the books. During the opening and ending credits, in fact, live action sequences transform several times into the drawings by E.H. Shepherd that graced the A.A. Milne books.
All of the portrayals of Christopher Robin’s animal friends are well done, endearing and laugh worthy, however, it is Pooh Bear who takes center stage. His grumbly tummy, slightly matted fur, gentle expressions and wise Poohisms create a longing in me for such a magical and valuable friend. I have three of my childhood bears stashed away upstairs in the attic. Perhaps I should dust them off and bring them downstairs.
At the very least, I can brew a pot of tea and my bears and I can have an impromptu tea party while we watch Christopher Robin after it releases on Netflix. Silly old bears. What words of wisdom would you have for me?