Not to be confused with last year’s biography GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN on the author of WINNIE THE POOH, A.A. Milne’s life, CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is the story of Christopher Robin, the little boy from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is now all grown up, married to Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) with a daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) but has lost all sense of imagination. Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood re-enter Christopher’s life to help him find joy again.
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is not strictly the story of Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings), the beloved honey gulping bear but about Christopher Robin as the film title implies. It is is a live-action/CGI extension of the Disney franchise of the same name. The animated Pooh and friends, are true in appearance and motion to the beloved book and film, so this film will appeal and not disappoint the Pooh fans.
The screenplay by Alex Ross Perry and Allison Schroeder takes certain liberties. Pooh suddenly appears in Christopher Robin’s home with no apparent logic. The time of Robin growing up is glaringly absent in the story. The film unfolds with Chapter 1 (“Leaving His Friends”) then jumps to Chapter 3 and so on, leaving out certain chapters of Robin’s life as if they don’t matter. But begin a family film, these little omissions can be forgiven. One cannot forgive however is the repeated number of times the script tugs at the heartstrings. Why has Christopher Robin disappeared? Goodbye Christopher Robin? Is Pooh’s red balloon more important that the briefcase of work notes? Are the work notes more important that your daughter? Why is the daughter then not with you? These lines of dialogue can be quite trying. On the upside. the humour comes off from Pooh’s friend as original, cute and fresh.
Pooh’s friends include Tigger, a boy tiger (also voiced by Cummings, who gets to sing one song as well) , a donkey, an owl, a piglet, a rabbit and a kangaroo. Brad Garrett who voices the perpetually pessimistic donkey steals the show, with his gruff voice and the script’s best jokes. When asked “How was your day today?” His reply is: “Don’t get me started!”
What helps in creating the fairy tale atmosphere especially the colourful hundred acre wood where Pooh and his friends live is the cinematography by Matthias Koenigswieser coupled with the CGI effects. The music by Jon Brion including a few catchy songs lifts the film’s mood.
The last Disney’s Winnie the Pooh animated feature was good but really slow. In CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, the animated characters move just as slowly to keep with the expectations of the first film. McGregor makes a believable grown up Christopher, and does well putting up a straight face while taking all the dialogue with great seriousness. Christopher, when he realizes what is missing in life brings audiences right back to MARY POPPINS where David Thomlinson as Mr. Banks discards his frugality on saving a tuppence and begins feeding the birds.
Make sure you stay right up to the end of the closing credits. Just when you think the film is over with the credits coming on, a nifty musical number appears right in the middle, a song on the play of words “Noting becomes Something” as performed on a piano in the middle of the beach with Pooh and friends lying on deck chairs enjoying the sun. If that is not enough incentive to stay, this sequence is followed by another original Pooh song.
A bit sappy, but CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is entertaining enough and true to the mood of WINNIE THE POOH.