Disney has more or less been successful in their live action ventures as of late from The Jungle Book to Beauty and the Beast. With Fox’s Goodbye Christopher Robin not quite capturing the magic of its characters, could Disney’s version fill that Pooh-sized hole in our hearts?
Synopsis: Working-class family man Christopher Robin encounters his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh, who helps him to rediscover the joys of life. (IMDB)
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, and Jim Cummings
Writers: Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, and Allison Schroeder
Director: Marc Forster
Rating: G (Canada)/PG (United States)
Running Time: 104mins
While most people may see this as a film directed towards a younger audience, it is quite the opposite. The story follows the life of adult Christopher Robin (McGregor) who works at an over demanding job that sees him unable to spend time with his wife Evelyn (Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). When his family heads to his old cottage for the weekend, Christopher is visited by his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh (Cummings) who hopes Christopher can help him find the rest of their friends who have gone missing from Hundred Acre Wood.
If it isn’t evident, this is a very familiar story as it follows the same structure and beats of 1991’s Hook. There is an adult character who has lost all sense of wonderment and fun in their life as their job has consumed them, but through revisiting their childhood they are able to realize what is really important in life, to always let yourself enjoy the little things and how to connect better with their children.
However, instead of the always charismatic Robin Williams leading the story he’s replaced with Ewan McGregor with similar results. McGregor’s Christopher Robin is tired and obviously removed from the times of stress-free fun and adventuring with his group of animal friends, but through the film we see a strong emotional journey that connects the audience with their own growth into adulthood which reminds us to bring joy to our lives and continue to cherish the times we have with our family.
This lead performance is complemented by the cast of characters that call Hundred Acre Wood home. From Pooh’s delightful naivety, Piglet’s anxiety, Tigger’s optimism and Eeyore’s narcissistic commentary, each character feels like they stepped out of any other adventure without missing a beat. The only character that didn’t work as well as the rest was Mark Gatiss’ Giles Winslow. He seemed very typecasted for the role and felt like a hollow one-dimensional villain in comparison to Dustin Hoffman’s Captain Hook. Also, if you felt concerned about how the animation looked from the trailers, rest assured that these characters look perfectly fine after the first few minutes.
Overall, Christopher Robin is a delightfully heartfelt family film that brings magic to a familiar tale. With its charming cast of characters, stunning visuals and relatable themes of friendship, love and family wrapped into a tenderly written script, this trip to Hundred Acre Wood is worth pushing to the top if your list. It is the perfect summer film for you or the whole family.
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