October 20, 2017

R: October 20th, 2017 | R: 101 minutes | R: PG

Although Winnie the Pooh has inspired joy for almost a century, the story behind the story is not as sunny as the Hundred Acre Woods. Goodbye Christopher Robin is a biopic that reflects on the tragic history surrounding the author of one of the most successful children’s story franchises and the relationship with his own child.

Born to an upper-class playwright, the real Christopher Robin (who goes by “Billy Moon” in real life) has a childhood vastly unlike what most children experience. Mostly raised by his nanny, his father is trapped in his work while his mother is a socialite who cannot stand the banality of settling down and raising a family. But when finally given a chance to bond with his father, things get out of hand when his childhood memories are turned into a series of children’s stories. Thrust into the spotlight, a young Christopher Robin grows to resent his denial of a normal childhood.

While Winnie the Pooh was a story about childhood, Goodbye Christopher Robin is a story about growing up. The film touches upon some poignant themes and offers some touching moments. Providing insight into a rarely explored family dynamic, the film offers a perspective that is often glossed over and forgotten. A story that has given so many people so much happiness ended up being the exact opposite for the child that inspired it all. Although it doesn’t change the joy and love that Winnie the Pooh has to offer, Goodbye Christopher Robin is its own interesting story. The overall themes about neglect, money, work, childhood stardom, and even war are insightful and still relevant even if not explored to their fullest. And even if many of the depictions weren’t entirely faithful, there were several moments that were truly touching and some that even brought many of the audience members to tears.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a good film despite its fear of fully committing itself to its themes. The movie teeters between a critique on the author’s relationship with his son and an homage to one of the most famous stories of all time. It struggled in its portrayal of the parents – making them completely unrelatable and cold in some scenes while attempting to redeem or explain their actions in others. The perspective and the motivations for these characters was relevant and important, but the film too often glamorized and forgave them for their behavior. In one scene, his mother disappears for an indeterminate amount of time because she becomes bored and dissatisfied with country living and domestic life without a single thought to her child, and in another is presented as a caring mother stricken with grief over the disappearance of her son. Especially considering the real-life circumstances, the movie cannot decide whether to gloss over the truth or expose the harsh reality. The sad fact is that Christopher Robin never really seemed to fully repair his relationship with his parents. But the portrayal we get is somewhere weirdly in the middle where it attempts to avoid tarnishing the reputation of such a beloved story but also trying to avoid the accusation that it is ignoring a harsh reality.

In the end, Goodbye Christopher Robin feels like a generic dramatic biopic. It offers up interesting themes, compelling characters, and convincing performances. It certainly isn’t bad nor is it groundbreaking. But it does give a rarely told insight into another side of the famous series and the film is able to stand on its own.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Johnny Johnny (Senior Contributor) was born and raised in San Diego. He's been a fan of films the majority of his life. He enjoys the feeling it invokes and the power it has to take you to another place.
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Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the story of how one of the most loved children’s characters, Winnie-the-Pooh, came to be. I thought it would be a more pleasant story but was in for a shocking awaken after watching this film.

Once a prominent and well liked writer in London, A.A. Milne is sent off to fight in World War I. When he returns he suffers from both PTSD and depression because of the gloom that lingers over England that no one seems to want to address. Threatening to write about the effects of war one of his colleagues suggests that he moves to the countryside for a more calming atmosphere.

This is where Winnie-the-Pooh is created but everything from his home of the Hundred Acre Woods to his friends Tigger, Piglet, etc. all come together too perfectly. This may have been how it actually happened but it felt too “perfect” and there was no real puzzle to be together from it.

This may have been because the puzzling content of the film derived from the distance that A.A. Milne and his wife kept from their son. Daphne (Margot Robbie) desperately wanted a girl and did not let anyone forget it resulting in Christopher Robin practically raised completely by his nanny. It was interesting to see how he used his walks in the countryside with little Christopher Robin to help him escape the terrors of his mind while all his son wanted was a father. It was also interesting to see how instead of parents they begin to act as managers because they forced their single digit aged son to go to appearance and interviews while he wanted no part in the limelight his parents enjoyed. It was heartbreaking to watch and even harder when he grew up and was able to put the resent of his parents into words.

I will say that even though this film is about the origins of Winnie-the-Pooh it is not for kids. There are several scenes with dead bodies and flies during the war, abandonment and depressing themes that are not suitable for children. The title also has a forewarning of the more adult themes because it acts as a farewell to a story that so many grew up replacing it with thoughts of the saddening backstory.

I’m not sure if it is worth the watch if you want to keep a positive view of Winnie-the-Pooh. Although the film did a great job of portraying the origin story, ever since watching when I see the chubby, yellow character as I can think is poor Christopher Robin.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Ashley Ashley (Senior Contributor) is an Orlando native who loves watching movies. Her favorite genres include comedies, thrillers and sci-fi.
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