“Christopher Robin” encapsulates reflection of childhood imagination

Erik Jimenez/Staff Writer

If I were to choose a mascot for the Walt Disney Corporation, I would easily pick Winnie-The-Pooh. As the face of many of the company’s projects and programs, the famous bear, along with his crew, come back to the big screen for a wonderful tale of imagination and reflection.

All of them were inspired by the tales A.A. Milne wrote in 1926, which themselves were based off the antics of his son, Christopher Robin, and his stuffed animals, including the titular bear. But real life Robin eventually grew out of playing with his toys and went on to live an average early 20th century in Britain.

But that begs the question: What would the Disney version of  Robin be like when he grows up? That is what “Christopher Robin” answers, and the result is a surprisingly melancholic affair that manages to be sweet enough for those seeking to re-live a little childhood magic.

The film opens where the classic 1977 Disney film ended. Christopher Robin bids farewell to his childhood companions — Pooh (Jim Cummings), Tigger (Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Eeyore (Brad Garrett) and all the rest — as he departs the Hundred Acre Woods for boarding school. The opening emphasizes Robin’s goodbye to Pooh in a recreation of the final scene of the ‘77 film.

Mark Forster of “Finding Neverland” fame directs, and the film is beautiful in both its visuals and message as a result. The fundamental lesson of the film is that one can always embrace the essential values of the Hundred Acre Woods—gratitude, contemplation and imagination— without sacrificing the wisdom learned in the crucible of adult life.

Following “Up”-style montage, we get to see his life unfold: he is reprimanded by his teachers for daydreaming, mourns the sudden death of his father, meets his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), and on the frontline battlefields of World War II. I never thought I would see the day when there is an explosion in a Winnie-the-Pooh movie, but here we are.

Upon his return from the war and his first meeting with his daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), adult Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) takes a job as efficiency manager at a luggage manufacturer. He is accused of reducing company expenses by 20 percent, a grim task that involves a lot of layoffs unless he can find a miracle solution.

Thankfully, help is on the way. The Hundred Acre Woods has grown dark and gloomy since Robin’s departure, and Pooh’s friends have seemingly disappeared. So, our beloved bear decides to seek Robin’s help and slips through a hidden gateway into London, where he’s promptly reunited with his old friend. And what begins as a search for the Hundred Acre Woods gang soon becomes Robin’s search for who he really is.

The acting is great across the board both in the physical and vocal categories. McGregor gives a nuanced and subtle performance as the adult Robin, managing to interact with the CGI animals as if they were actually there. He has great chemistry with Atwell and Carmichael who themselves exude a calming grace that is needed for their roles.

The voice acting is where the film really shines, which is all thanks to veteran voice actor Jim Cummings. He reprises the roles of Pooh and Tigger, roles that he has been consistently playing for over 30 years, making him the definitive voice for both characters.

Other standouts include Peter Capaldi as Rabbit and Brad Garrett taking over the role of Eeyore from Peter Cullen. Garrett manages to bring a sense of humor in his delivery, making Eeyore, surprisingly, the character in the film that brings the biggest laughs.

With “Christopher Robin,” Disney and Mark Forster tell a tale of hope and restoration using some of the most beloved childhood characters of all time. The film tells us to live in such a way that you cherish family and appreciate beauty. We knew this when we were young, and we can all know this again.

My all-time favorite author C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” “Christopher Robin” is true to that spirit.


5 out of 5 stars



Photo retrieved from Flickr.

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