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Today’s film in review is about an English man who is too busy with his work to focus on what really matters most: his family. It’s only after a visit from a whimsical being is he able to reconnect with his family even if it means losing his job.
Nope, today’s film is actually Christopher Robin. Directed by Marc Forster, was this not-really-a-live-action-remake-but-seriously-kinda-a-live-action-remake a well-made film? Read on to find out!
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The film begins with a montage of illustrations depicting the fun a young Christopher Robin would have with his friends of the Hundred Acre Wood. This leads to a “fairwell” party for Christopher Robin as he’s going off to boarding school. His animal friends in the Hundred Acre Wood don’t know where he’s going, but they know he won’t be able to visit as often as he did before.
About our Hundred Acre Wood friends, many of them are stuffed animals in the vein of them being Christopher Robin’s toys such as Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, and Roo. They are voiced by Jim Cummings, Nick Mohammed, Brad Garrett, Jim Cummings, Sophie Okonedo, and Sara Sheen, respectively. Rabbit and Owl, voiced by Peter Capaldi and Toby Jones, respectively, are actual animals in the Hundred Acre Wood.
It’s not long before Christopher Robin says goodbye to his friends, to Pooh, especially. And it’s not long after entering boarding school is he forced to grow up quickly due to a series of events including his father dying and WWII starting. After returning from the war, Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor, marries a woman named Evelyn, played by Hayley Atwell, and together they have a young daughter named Madeline, played by Bronte Carmichael.
Christopher Robin has never visited the Hundred Acre Wood since the day he bid his friends “fairwell” and doesn’t even think about them all that much. He’s now much too busy working as an efficiency expert for a company called Winslow Luggages. And like every corporate company, they’re trying to find ways to save money. Christopher Robin must work with the younger Mr. Winslow (the son of the owner of the company), played by Mark Gatiss, to come up with a plan of action by an emergency meeting the coming Monday or else many people will have to be let go. Mr. Giles Winslow doesn’t do any work though and leaves it all to Christopher Robin, as sons of company owners tend to do sometimes.
All this stress gets to Christopher Robin resulting in increased distance between him and his family. They were all supposed to go to his old country cottage for the weekend, but now he tells his wife and daughter to go by themselves as he has work to do.
Meanwhile back at the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh can’t seem to find any of his friends. After searching for a while, he decides to walk through a door in a tree whence Christopher Robin used to visit them. This leads Pooh to a park where Christopher Robin happens to be at the moment and you can imagine how shocked Christopher Robin is to see Pooh!
He can’t understand how Pooh is even here as the door to the Hundred Acre Wood is supposed to be by his childhood cottage. Pooh supposes that the door just appears where it needs to be and now having served its purpose, it’s back by the childhood cottage. (Either that or the writers couldn’t come up with a better explanation.)
After hearing about Pooh’s search for his friends, Christopher Robin decides to take Pooh back to the Hundred Acre Wood. He heads to his childhood cottage (whilst deliberately trying to stay out of sight from his wife and daughter) and drops Pooh back in the Hundred Acre Wood. At first, he doesn’t have time to help Pooh find his friends, but he eventually gives in.
At first, they don’t find anyone and Christopher Robin has to deal with Pooh being afraid of “heffalumps and woozles”, creatures that don’t exist, but he imagined when he was younger. It’s not long though that Christopher Robin finds the gang. They don’t recognize him at first and assume him to be a “heffalump”. It’s not until Christopher Robin embraces his imagination again and pretends to fight a “heffalump” in the nearby woods do the Hundred Acre Wood gang believe him.
Christopher Robin enjoys spending time there and even falls asleep. However when he awakes, it’s time for him to head to work for the meeting. He bids farewell to his friends and heads off with his briefcase. Unbeknownst to him, some of the important papers needed for the meeting aren’t in his briefcase anymore and it’s up to Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore to return the papers to him.
As the gang leaves the Hundred Acre Wood, they bump into Madeline who at first doesn’t believe what she’s seeing but she then recognizes the gang from her father’s childhood drawings. They explain to Madeline what the problem is and she takes them by herself to London so that they can deliver the papers to her father. She doesn’t tell her mother though, so when she sees that her daughter is gone, Evelyn gets worried and heads to London herself to look for Madeline.
It’s not until he arrives at the meeting does Christopher Robin discover that his papers are missing, but before he can divulge that fact to the board, he’s told that his wife is here due to an emergency. Evelyn tells him about Madeline and together they go looking for her in London. They soon find her near the Winslow Luggages building and are relieved to know she’s okay. Madeline is sorry though, because she lost many of her father’s papers due to a gust of wind, but he tells her how that doesn’t matter.
This gives Christopher Robin an idea though. He goes back to the meeting and tells the board that they should give the employees paid vacations. And because they’re going on vacations, they’ll need luggage, hence they’d buy luggage from Winslow Luggages itself!
The board agrees with this and Mr. Giles Winslow is reprimanded by his father for not doing any work on this idea. Christopher Robin then heads back to the Hundred Acre Wood to spend some time with his family and friends.
And that was Christopher Robin. And it was…alright. It’s your typical story of “needing to embrace your inner child and appreciate what matters most” with many similarities to Mary Poppins. It is nice to see the Hundred Acre Wood gang again though and I hope this leads to more animated projects featuring the gang.
I do have a problem with the tone of the movie at times. Sometimes the film has many slow, serious moments that don’t fit the Winnie the Pooh vibes. Had this movie been more like Paddington in the sense that it emitted whimsy from beginning to end as well as being dramatic, I think it would have been a better film. The film we got instead seems more like an “arthouse” Oscar-bait type of film.
Richard M. Sherman wrote three songs for this film, of which I really like two: Busy Doing Nothing and Christopher Robin. The problem though is that these two songs only appear during the end credits, so if you stop watching the film before that, you’ll miss out.
The visual effects were good enough, I mean they did receive an Oscar nomination. And the acting performances were overall good with Ewan McGregor, Jim Cummings, Nick Mohammed, Toby Jones, and Brad Garrett giving great performances. I’m glad Jim Cummings ended up voicing Tigger rather than the previously announced Chris O’Dowd, but I am curious to know what O’Dowd’s Tigger sounded like!
All in all, it’s a decent-enough film. Nothing amazing, nothing horrible. Just an average day in the Hundred Acre Wood!
So, my final score for this film is 26/35 = 74.29% (C) !
The next review will be posted on March 5, 2019.