August 03, 2018

Christopher Robin is in theaters August 3rd, 2018.

In most versions of Winnie the Pooh, an animated Christopher Robin galivants around with his animal friends in the imaginary Hundred Acre Wood before a bittersweet ending where he grows up and leaves his friends behind. But Disney offers us a grown up rendition of Pooh, not only exploring the life Christopher Robin lives after he leaves behind the Hundred Acre Wood, but also bringing our favorite childhood animated characters to life. Christopher Robin serves as a heartwarming and lighthearted jaunt that reunites us with some of the best characters of all time.

Growing up in the countryside, Christopher Robin enjoys lazy days of playing with his friends, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and all his other friends in the Hundred Acre Woods. Yet that’s where the fun for Christopher Robin ends. Sent away to boarding school, Christopher Robin has to say goodbye to his friends, asking Pooh to still visit their favorite spot even after he leaves, and Pooh asking Christopher to never forget him. Christopher quickly grows up – through a series of trials, between the death of a family member and serving in a horrific war, Christopher Robin grows into an adult and forgets the carefree childhood he once had.

Christopher (played by Ewan McGregor) settles down in London with his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), where the two have a daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). The older Christopher has long forgotten his childhood friends, instead obsessed with his career at the expense of his family. When the luggage company he works for decides it needs to make cuts at the risk of laying off a large number of Robin’s employees, he puts his job first and cancels a vacation he had planned to spend some much-needed time with his wife and daughter.

But just when Robin needs to focus the most, Winnie the Pooh accidentally stumbles through a door in a tree just outside of Robin’s house. The silly old bear needs help finding his friends – but first, of course he needs just a little bit of honey. Causing mischief and serving as a distraction to Christopher, he reluctantly agrees to return back to the countryside to try to help Pooh find his friends – but only so he can get back to work. Along the way, Pooh bear does what he does best – gets involved in a long journey that sucks Christopher Robin back to his childhood playground in the Hundred Acre Woods as he begins to rediscover the magic of his childhood.

If anyone ever wrongly thought otherwise, Christopher Robin shows that Winnie the Pooh isn’t just a children’s cartoon. Bringing the animated animals to life turned out to be a surprisingly welcome stylistic choice. The live-action characters are just as charming as they ever were, and dare I say Winnie the Pooh is even more adorable than ever. Although there is always room for another animated version of the Pooh bear, the film handles its live action limitations well and it never feels out of place or unwelcome. If anything, in a movie about growing up and seeing our childhood through an adult perspective, the stylistic choice was especially well-served.

What Christopher Robin gets the most right is by bringing back just enough of the magic and our favorite characters. Once again, given the subject matter, our favorite characters shine through in this film and let us reexperience the wonder and fun that Winnie the Pooh offers. Christopher Robin is a fun, lighthearted, and overwhelmingly positive movie that will easily brighten your day. And it’s silly and fun enough to keep your children entertained.

In spite of the magic that Christopher Robin brings back to the screen, too much time is spent on a story that was on the verge of lackluster. Eeyore and Pooh were a particular highlight, but too much of the film is spent on the live action characters and their problems than dedicating screentime to what makes these films what they are – the animated characters. The first third of the film is almost entirely lacking any of our favorite characters, instead it spends its time setting up Christopher Robin as a gimmicky caricature of what a child would think an adult acts like. The plot surrounding our live action characters is equally generic and predictable. In a Winnie the Pooh film, this isn’t a particularly important factor, but Christopher Robin suffers because it tries to make it a central piece of the movie.

Instead, this foray back into our childhood could have used a little less heavy-handed characterization and plot and instead just focused on what makes these stories so fantastic. Not enough time was dedicated to the Hundred Acre Wood, and when we did see it, it was lacking the whimsy and enthusiasm that a childhood imaginary place should hold. Even when we did finally get some of our favorite characters on screen, we were still missing a majority of them for most of the film. Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and Roo get only a few minutes of screentime since so much was eaten away by the plot. But when we do get to see our childhood favorites return to the big screen, the movie shines.

I expected a heartwarming tearjerker in Christopher Robin. Although the film reminded me of my childhood, it didn’t make me lovingly yearn for it. Christopher Robin is an excellent, lighthearted and fun romp despite its plot, and serves as an excellent breath of fresh summer air.

Rating: 3 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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