There was once somebody that told me, “Being a child is like being  high all the time.” At first, this concept didn’t make much sense, but  it’s actually a pretty interesting thought. After all, there are many  activities, games, songs, television shows, and movies that are beloved  by children, but are later discovered to be utter trash. Even the  imaginary games played in the woods were exciting and fun. Eventually  though, adult sensibilities and responsibilities block the act of having  dumb fun. Doing nothing and enjoying life, instead of grinding for  wealth or power or social media clout. At least, for a lot of children  there are no serious worries, only good times.

Despite this idea being shown in the film Christopher Robin, the unfortunate thing is that kids would probably not enjoy watching this movie. And for adults, it leaves… mixed feelings.

Christopher Robin goes to war on family fun

Christopher Robin tells the tale of an adult, well, Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor), the child from Winnie the Pooh.  After being torn away from the Hundred Acre Wood to go to boarding  school, Christopher forgets all about his childhood playtime and becomes  an adult. Through the years he finds work, finds love, goes to war  (yes, including actual war flashbacks), and now is dealing with choosing  between family and work. With fun now being a foreign concept in  Christopher’s mind, only his old Hundred Acre friends can come back in  to save him from himself.

Image from IMDb

The general story of “adult remembering how to be a kid again” is not  a new concept, but with such beloved and iconic characters as those  within the Winnie the Pooh lore, it should be able to be a simple story told well. Christopher Robin fumbles  this by being a little too heavy-handed in the writing and dialogue.  The most clear example of this is when Roo asks Christopher Robin pretty  much word for word “is your briefcase more important than your  daughter?” If the obvious themes weren’t enough, then the heavy-handed  visual symbolism makes it even more obnoxious. A child would easily  catch on to this, but of course, this message is not designed for a  child. The message of this movie is targeted at jaded adults who are too  cynical to have fun anymore, which I guess now includes me. In that  sense, the story did hit close to home, so it was a success there. That  doesn’t really make it any less overbearing.

This movie, however, was marketed as a nice, wholesome, feel good movie. The previous Winnie the Pooh animated films have had dynamic emotion (especially The Tigger Movie), but it all starts positive and ends positive. They feel good to watch through and through. The first act of Christopher Robin is  legitimately one of the most gloomy, brown/grey, and depressing family  film first acts in recent memory. If the war flashbacks and corporate  talk about “efficiency” weren’t enough, some of the terrible things  Christopher says to Pooh are excessively mean. On top of being  depressing, it’s also boring. There were several families within the  showing I went to that bailed on the movie before the halfway mark  because the kids were getting restless. If the goal of this movie is to  be a fun family picture, then families walking out of the theatre is not  a good sign.

Cartoons that actually belong in the real world

One of the major concerns going into Christopher Robin is that it had the faint smell of similar family films with formerly cartoon characters entering a real world. Films like The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Looney Toons: Back in Action come to mind, and those aren’t exactly the best of films. Disney, however, manages to nail the visuals and charm of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, at least with the design of the characters.

Image from IMDb

Almost all of the characters are CGI stuffed animals, and they look,  move, and interact with the world like stuffed animals would. The worn  down nature of beloved plush dolls is shown in the time-skip between the  start of the movie and when the Hundred Acre Wood re-enters the  picture. Tigger especially looks fantastic in motion, with his plush  nature still intact while bouncing around the world. The “fur” on the  stuffed animals also responds to the world like actual stuffed animals  would, like with Pooh and his excessive consumption of honey making the  “fur” look sticky. They look natural in the real world of London, which  is an impressive feat compared to similar films.

The other impressive visual aspect is the cinematography. Although  the early parts of the film are lacking color and life, they are still  interesting to look at. The Silent Hill-esque fog that lingers in  the Hundred Acre Wood while Christopher and Pooh are first searching  for their old friends is genuinely creepy, and it creates fantastic  atmosphere. The second half of the movie is much brighter and still has  great moments of cinematography. Particularly the scene where Ewan  McGregor fights “the heffalump” (aka nothing), which was more believable  than when he fought CGI characters in the Star Wars prequels. And,  again, the scenes with the CGI cast in London look fantastic as well,  with lots of movement and actions that’s well-paced and exciting to  watch.

A warm blanket of nostalgia

Image from IMDb

Despite all of the problems with how the film is paced, how it is written, and the overall botched narrative that Christopher Robin has,  this film still manages to provide some simple joyous feelings. At  least, it provides feelings for those nostalgic towards the classic Winnie the Pooh animation.  Pooh doing his stoutness exercises, Tigger singing his song, the music  overall (particularly the coffee house piano version of the opening  theme from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), and even many  of the lines within the film just bring back fond memories. Typically I  try not to let nostalgia bait like this get to me, but this one time, I  was okay just cozying up in a nostalgia blanket.

The individual lines for most of the cast were also pretty  entertaining as well. Eeyore had a lot of great, relatable lines, and  Pooh had a number of fantastic lines as well. The line Pooh has of,  “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing everything day,” is  one of the best single lines any character has had in any film I’ve  seen. And all of the acting is incredibly solid and nostalgic,  especially Jim Cummings returning as Pooh and Tigger. Although, for some  reason his mic sounds worse than the rest of the cast. Ewan McGregor  does a great job at both playing an adult and playing an adult that’s  embracing his childhood. The film is nothing if not well-produced and  well-acted to remind people of the good old days.

Featured image from IMDb

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