Christopher Robin (2018)
Director – Marc Forster
Writer – Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy
Starring – Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael
Rating – PG
Genre – Drama, Children’s
Metascore – 59/100
Rotten Tomatoes – 67%
While building a behemoth of an empire, Disney continues to entertain with film after film. They often prove their ability to craft unique, spell-binding, or paradigm-shifting stories. Unfortunately, Christopher Robin is not one of these great stories.
Starring Ewan McGregor as an aged Christopher Robin, the film does not completely capture the magic of the Hundred-Acre Wood and its inhabitants. There are a few cherishable moments when Pooh and Robin interact, which are some of the best parts of the film. However, the film would have benefited greatly by more time with Robin and his magical friends. Also, only a handful of the wood’s inhabitants were given much screen time. I kept forgetting Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, and Owl were in it at all.
The challenge of a family drama like Christopher Robin lies in the twofold need to engage both child and adult. Children in the showing I attended laughed several times early on and only a couple times at the end. Of course, being a drama Christopher Robin needed some seriousness, but this was at the cost of humor for nearly 45 minutes. For adults, the thematic element, work-life balance, was too familiar. And the film didn’t offer a compelling answer to the question it presented: How does one maintain good relationships while managing great responsibilities?
On a more positive note, Christopher Robin presented itself as a painting, as if composed from the most intimate feelings of the Hundred-Acre wood. Conversations, especially those between Robin and his daughter, were composed mostly with close-ups. This method placed the viewer in the middle of the emotional action. Lingering shots of the Hundred-Acre Wood, the Sussex cottage, and London park provided further beauty in a film that begs us to do nothing except appreciate moments as they come to us. Indeed, visually I found the thematic elements reinforced by many of the shots’ compositions.
I would be remiss to neglect mentioning the Hundred-Acre Wood denizens themselves. After seeing the characters throughout the entire film, I still thought they looked odd. Winnie the Pooh’s stomach, legs, and arms seem disproportionate. His eyes, though, stand apart. The crew did a phenomenal job presenting the duality of Winnie the Pooh’s empty-headedness yet full-heartedness in just his eyes. The other characters were fine, but mostly forgettable. About half of them are barely in the film, which is sad considering the richness of their unique relationships with Robin. While great as an ensemble, individual moments of each character with Robin could have strengthened the film.
For how magical the Hundred-Acre Wood and its inhabitants are, Christopher Robin struggled to deliver upon the wood’s history of overcoming fears and embracing courage. If it had only taken its own advice: find yourself a red balloon, do nothing, and see how fast happiness comes.
Author: Matt Welborn