Christopher Robin - Review
Disney has been on a role with their live action remakes of their animated classics. The latest is Christopher Robin which is essentially Hook with Winnie the Pooh instead of Peter Pan. The first two acts of the movie work incredibly well, then it loses its balance in the third act shift only to regain composure shortly thereafter.
There will be a few spoilers throughout this review.
I was in the bag for this movie the moment I heard the premise. The trailer only reinforced that notion. When I bought my ticket, the theater employee who sold me the ticket even said "I hope you have tissues".
The movie opens exactly how you would expect - story book pages turning into action, with Pooh and the other members of the Hundred Acre Wood gathering to say goodbye to Christopher Robin who is off to boarding school.
The film shifts into this bleak look at overworked adulthood. Christopher Robin, who is played wonderfully by Ewan McGregor, is neglecting his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter to work for a boss who doesn't value him. Occasionally the film flashes to the Hundred Acre Wood, watching Pooh wait for Christopher Robin to return. When he doesn't, Pooh goes and finds him. This is when Christopher Robin is at its best. Pooh acts as a conscience of sorts to Christopher. Christopher makes these adult decisions, and Pooh questions them. All of them. He doesn't let up. It was really great seeing the contrast of it. Pooh views the real world through this innocent child like (and hungry) filter. Winnie The Pooh is the physical embodiment of the childhood that Christopher Robin has long since forgotten. It has returned to challenge his life. The film works really well when this dynamic is at the forefront.
The last moments of that is the train ride up to the country side where his wife and daughter are on vacation. He is taking Pooh back there to find the door in the tree so he can return him home. This is where the film drastically shifts to a more "nutty, fruity, loop the loop, tonto, barmy, bonkers" tone where 4 anthropomorphic stuffed animals lead a little girl through London.
It feels like you are watching a different movie in third act. Some of the depression goes away. The bleak, gray, overcast cloud surrounding the movie gets replaced by Eeyore and his commentary.
That is why Christopher Robin works though. All of the characters are 100% true to how you remember them. Tigger, Eeyore and Pooh Bear in particular. This is Disney. They will always stay on brand no matter what. There is plenty of fan service sprinkled through the film. You'll hear and see familiar terms. The music will serve as comfort food to your nostalgia-hungry brain. There is even a very famous Tigger moment seamlessly dropped into the movie when he introduces himself to Madeline, Christopher's daughter. The voice cast including Brad Garrett as Eeyore is spot on.
Pooh talks about doing nothing a lot during the movie. It is a theme that never leaves, and ends up being the main lesson of the movie. Work is fine. But work isn't life. Work makes life possible. Go on vacation, find the little things in life to appreciate. They are going on right in front of you, but work makes you miss them.
This is not an anti-work film. Disney wouldn't do that, they need you to work so you can pay to see more of their movies. Christopher Robin is a pro-family film. It preaches a healthy work-life balance. It preaches the value of a strong, appreciated workforce, and that it is healthy to get away from work sometimes.
When Winnie The Pooh's stomach isn't distracting him, his view on life is simple but important. It boils down to noticing the things around you. The trees, the grass, the houses. "I always get to where I'm going by walking away from where I've been". That is incredibly deep for a "tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff."
No matter where you are in life, Christopher Robin can teach you something. Stop and literally smell the roses. Visit that little shop you always pass on the way home from work. Don't take your kids for granted. Listen to them. Make time to play games. Go on vacation, even if its just walking around downtown in your own city. Make your own adventures. Make sure work is just part of your life. Don't let it consume your life.
Christopher Robin starts in a quite sad and depressing place. The journey pays off the audience all the way through, even when it feels you aren't watching the same movie anymore. Then it comes through in a big bad way at the end, and you realize that Winnie The Pooh's way of life might not be as silly as he makes it seem.
Do yourself a favor. Pull away from work. Gather your family. Go see Christopher Robin. Then on the way home, appreciate the world around you.
Christopher Robin is in theaters everywhere now.