MOVIE: CHRISTOPHER ROBIN
STARRING: EWAN MCGREGOR; HAYLEY ATWELL; BRONTE CARMICHAEL; MARK GATISS
DIRECTED BY: MARC FORSTER
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
I can only get behind a movie that has a message about kindness, encourages others to use their imagination, and asks us to find an appreciation for the things that truly matter in life. That movie is Disney's Christopher Robin, a live-action portrayal of the A. A. Milne characters, about the boy who spent his childhood days in the hundred acre wood with friends, Winnie-the-Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and the rest of the gang. Young Christopher loved his furry friends, until he grew up, and all of his fun was sucked out of him by his mundane job. Director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, World War Z) brings Pooh to life and manages to find a chubby little cuddly message, reminding kids to go out and play, and hoping adults will stay forever young. Christopher Robin is one movie that might be sweeter than honey.
Ewan McGregor stars as the title character, working at the financially struggling Monroe Luggage factory, wearing himself to the bone, and finding little time to spend with wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). With age has come a hardening of Christopher's gentle soul. He no longer sees his friends from the forest, in fact at this point they are nothing but a distant memory. Similar to such films as Hook, Jumanji, or The BFG, Christopher Robin is a familiar tale, but a friendly story of a father learning to be happy again.
The audiences appreciation for Christopher Robin will depend on various factors of the film. The stuffed animals brought to life are a combination of both adorable and admittedly creepy. The movement of little Pooh is sometimes robotic, but when we see him smile or hear him say “It's always a sunny day, when Christopher Robin comes to play”, my heart melted with joy. Kids will initially dislike how grumpy Christopher Robin is, but the fun comes from the adventure of his transition from overworked pushover, to friendly father of the year. The performance from McGregor is also infectious, where the Trainspotting star seems to be having the most fun he has had in years.
The screenplay by Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, and Allison Schroeder breezes through the backstory stuff and takes time to lighten up. It is the direction from Forster, mixed with a delightful new score from Jon Brion and Geoff Zanelli that wins us over. The settings are often beautiful, creating two worlds, one that is a British industrial town, and the other world that has the poetic glow of the hundred acre wood. The attention to the natural details of trees, bushes, hollowed out logs, tall grass, and golden sunsets, makes Christopher Robin come to life. I often felt like we were escaping to a fantasy land, similar to what we see in the Milne books with the classic Ernest Shepard drawings.
In the end, Christopher Robin is exactly what I wanted it to be: a kind revival of Winnie-the-Pooh, a character I distinctly recall loving as a kid, and a beautiful message for families to embrace. My cynical mind fought the reality that Christopher Robin's commitment to work was a natural progression in life that we all go through, but it's important to find happiness as well. A movie of this caliber would typically grip your heart and cause you to cry, but instead Forster and co. just want us to remember that our childhood friends never leave us. Winnie-the-Pooh will be our friend forever. Silly ole bear.
Written by: Leo Brady