Christopher Robin

Winnie the Pooh: “People say nothing is impossible but I do nothing every day.”

Maybe there’s a bit of bias in me because of the Disney I grew up with in the nineties, but maybe, just maybe, Disney is on to something with these live-action adaptations/remakes/sequels to classic Disney animated flicks of the past.

Something I've seen lacking in other computer-animated films over the last five or so years is that while they can certainly find ways or write gags that appeal to the younger audience members for a while, there's not much in them at all for the older demographic to take away from them. But with Disney, one could certainly make the argument that Christopher Robin is just as much a film for its grown-up viewers as it is for the youngsters. Quite literally, it's spelled out to us from the Winnie the Pooh and his friends that it can be quite easy to get caught up in the responsibilities and pressure put upon us as we grow up, and end up forgetting for a moment that there are respective whimsies for all of us that can bring back our nostalgic childhood memories.

Christopher Robin centers around the titular character himself, now all grown and working for a demanding corporation specializing in developing luggage. Though he has married and raised a daughter, his job keeps him away from them frequently and he seems to have all but lost his imaginative ways. It takes the reunion of Christopher and his old stuffed friends, led by Winnie the Pooh, to restore his sense of wonder.

Aside from Ewan McGregor's performance as an older Christopher Robin (hey Disney, where do we stand on that Obi-Wan spinoff?) the other appeal to this film is the stuffed toys themselves (I mean, they even got their own promotional posters!), looking practically like they were pulled off the pages this time of the Milne books. What some I've spoken to found a little 'off' was that the toys didn't look very real compared to their human counterparts, but what I've found with CGI sometimes is that at the very least, even if your finished product doesn't look real, it just has to look good. The charm of these characters for me personally, at the risk of sounding like a nutty conspiracy theorist, is that each toy embodies a piece of personality that most of us, probably even as adults, can identify with. Piglet is very skittish and timid when he crosses paths with the unknown, Rabbit is the neat-freak, Tigger faces his days with gleeful and energetic abandon, Owl is more meticulous and considerate, and Eeyore...well isn’t Eeyore just the most relatable stuffed donkey for a twenty-one year old coming-along college student like myself? As unfortunate as he may think he is, he does get some of the film’s funniest lines.

There are of course other human characters to play their parts in the story: namely, Christopher’s wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), their daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), and Christopher’s demanding boss Winslow (Mark Gatiss). While at first glance they appear to just be there for the sake of being the concerned wife, artistic girl, and strict superior respectively, by the end of the film, each has played a part in helping Christopher make his transition from the tense workaholic to a more easy-going family man. And I do mean tense – in a moment where Christopher does take his temper out on the critters, I personally felt bad that Pooh felt bad. I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was just impossible to look at a Pooh plush toy and feel feelings of anger.

The editing may be a little choppy, the saturation looks to have been sapped a bit, and while it may not even be one of 2018’s best, I can confidently assert that Christopher Robin is a film I’m glad I went and saw. In the future, I’d even opt to see more feel-good films like this from Disney, and less trying to hail the bandwagon that was Frozen.

Aaron Studer loves spending his time reading, writing and defending the existence of cryptids because they can’t do it themselves.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

A lovely review, Aaron -- and welcome to the site!

I'm not much for animation and I was never into Winnie the Pooh, but I'm definitely a fan of Ewan's so I might get to this one on the small screen.

Patryk said...

Damn those are CGIs? They look so much like real plushies, at least on the screencap there.

Katerina said...

I saw this movie yesterday with three kids and came away thinking it was more relatable to me, as an adult, than it was to them. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this turned out to be more serious than fun-filled. But that's not a bad thing. I did enjoy it a lot, and so did the kids. I felt it was a lesson in remembering who you are at your core as you get older and not letting the world cover you with so many layers of responsibility and disillusionment and regret that you forget the simple things that truly make you happy and that are most important. I loved the simpleness of the animals and couldn't believe how much they were making me feel for them. There were a couple times with Pooh when I actually wished I could give him a hug.

sunbunny said...

Looking forward to eventually reading this review and seeing the movie but I have to wait for it to come out on DVD. Didn't want to ugly cry in theaters. Welcome to the team!