Christopher Robin Review

Christopher Robin
Years after leaving the Hundred Acre Woods and his friend Winnie-the-Pooh (Jim Cummings) behind, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is struggling at work and neglecting his family. One day, Pooh reappears in his life. Has Christopher finally cracked under the pressure, or is this a chance to reconnect with something he’s lost?

by Helen O'Hara |
Published on
Release Date:

17 Aug 2018

Original Title:

Christopher Robin

Winnie-the-Pooh is a giant of children’s literature for a reason. His mixture of naivety and a strange sort of wisdom is enchanting — like a tiny toddler who’s also the reincarnation of some ancient monk. And he is delightful here, voiced again by Jim Cummings 30 years after he first took the role. Sadly, the rest of the film doesn’t have that complexity or lightness of touch, making its whimsy aggressive rather than charming.

Christopher Robin

The plot is overly familiar, from Hook, Mary Poppins, Elf and a million other tales of families fixed by magical means. Now a stressed-out father, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) has abandoned his family to deal with an office crisis. He needs someone to remind him what’s important: so in steps Pooh. The animated bear’s reappearance causes minor household disasters and threatens social embarrassment, but there are no high stakes to his arrival beyond his muddling the line between reality and fantasy (Pooh appears, for the purposes of this film, to be real but slightly removed from the everyday world). Low stakes can, of course, work for a Winnie-the-Pooh film: witness 2011’s utterly delightful hand-drawn animation. But here there’s a sense that Marc Foster is reaching for more and simply not finding it.

The tone, therefore, veers oddly between some genuinely delightful scenes of Robin rediscovering a sense of whimsy with Pooh, oddly downbeat, almost NeverEnding Story-tinged segments hunting Pooh’s vanished friends, and manic bits with all the animals of the Hundred Acre Wood gathered together. It’s a shame the film, like its hero, pushes aside Robin’s family: Hayley Atwell’s Evelyn (who has her own thriving career yet still makes time for family) and Bronte Carmichael’s Madeline, the couple’s daughter, both do a lot with what they’re given, but they’re given so little. Perhaps that neglect is why this film falls short of the magic something like Paddington had in spades. If you’re going to talk about family, and friendship, and what’s really important in life, you have to waddle the walk too.

Everyone’s trying hard, but they can’t quite live up to the particularly gentle, warm tone of Pooh himself. Unlike the bear of very little brain, this is a film pulled in different directions with entirely too many thoughts in its head.
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