Reel Reviews | Christopher Robin

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

In the latest of the live action editions of the Disney movies that we love, Winnie-the-Pooh and the crew come to life in the new movie, Christopher Robin.

A lot has happened to Christopher Robin since his farewell party in the Hundred Acre Wood. He has gone to boarding school (the reason for the farewell). He has gone to war. He has gotten married to Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and has a daughter named Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). He has a job at Winslow Industries where they make luggage. But most of all he has lost himself. When his boss tasks him with coming up with a drastic plan to cut 20 percent of the expenses for the company he finds himself working over the weekend that his family planned to go to his home cottage for a break. It appears that although his family is used to the disappointment of coming in second place to his work, they are not happy about it. His daughter Madeline seems desperate for her father’s attention but instead of play Christopher Robin focuses on work as he prepares her for attending boarding school as he did when he was her age. As Christopher Robin’s family leaves him, in the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh’s friends seem to have disappeared. Knowing only his good friend can help, Pooh goes through Christopher Robin’s door and arrives in London to find him. What follows is a magical journey of discovery for Pooh and Christopher Robin.

In the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the classic, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, the brand new tale of a grown-up Christopher Robin comes during the summer movie doldrums. Not to be confused with last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin which dealt with the origin of the characters, Robin is a new story in the saga of Winnie the Pooh designed to reach and inspire a new generation as well reawaken the child in all of us.

The writing of this screenplay was done by Alex Ross Perry (Golden Exits, Queen of Earth), Tom McCarthy (Win Win, Spotlight) and Allison Schroeder (Hidden Figures) based upon a story from Greg Brooker and Mark Steven Johnson. At first blush, some concern may arise on the fact that there are three screenplay writers but their work is so seamless and coherent that there is absolutely no problem at all. In fact, McCarthy and Schroeder may look forward to a new nomination for an Academy Award.

It is an incredible delight to see and hear Pooh and all of his friends return to the screen. All the voice over actors do an incredible job of reawakening the classic characters but special kudos go to Jim Cummings for his voicing of Pooh and Brad Garrett for Eeyore. It may have been because these two had the most screen time but it definitely had to do with their familiarity with the characters. Cummings, a veteran voice-over actor, who has spent more than a dozen years voicing Pooh (and Tigger), has become inseparably memorable as the voice of Winnie the Pooh as Sterling Holloway was fifty years ago. Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) has also become a veteran voice-over guy, having done 15 different Disney movies but his previous work in voicing Eeyore for DVDs lends to his recognizability as the forlorn stuffed donkey.

Here is a note of warning. This movie is made for fans of Winnie the Pooh. If you are not a fan, the film will not communicate as well. It is not the best story for introducing children to the world of A. A. Milne either. The movie from 2011 entitled simply Winnie the Pooh would be a better orientation place for those new to Pooh. However, if you know Pooh and have shared your knowledge with your children, this film is the ultimate wrap of a story to one generation and a passing of the torch to the next.

Rated PG for some action, Christopher Robin is a wonderful family movie that revisits the Hundred Acre Wood and its inhabitants in a truly original and beautiful new tale. It is a sweet and inspirational story about the importance of play, honesty and above all, family.

Grade: B+