Adventure Animation

Review: ‘Christopher Robin’ is a Charmingly Old-Fashioned Take on a Beloved Character

August 3, 2018Ben MK

Generations have grown up with Winnie the Pooh, and whether you know him from his 1980s TV show or his more recent animated films, the appeal of everyone's favorite honey-loving bear is timeless. Now, with Christopher Robin, Pooh is stepping into his first live-action feature, and he's bringing Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet and all his friends with him.

Directed by Marc Forster, Christopher Robin follows a grownup version of its titular character, who's all but forgotten about the many carefree days he spent playing with his pals from the Hundred Acre Wood. Now an efficiency manager at the financially floundering Winslow Luggage company, Christopher (Ewan McGregor) is something of a workaholic. And needless to say, it's taken a toll on his home life, leaving his wife, Evelyn (Haley Atwell), and daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), wondering when he'll be able to find time for them, instead of spending his days, nights and weekends with his nose buried in paperwork.

Then one day, with Evelyn and Madeline away on a weekend trip to the countryside, the most magical thing happens — when who else should Christopher encounter on a park bench but Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), who's traveled all the way to London in search of his old friend. You see, the rest of the gang has gone missing, and with nowhere else to turn, Pooh calls on Christopher to help find them, thus beginning the pair's journey back to the Hundred Acre Wood, where an incredulous and cynical Christopher must learn to forget his grownup ways and remember how to be a kid again.

What follows borrows a page from The Muppets Take Manhattan, but if you take that to infer that Christopher Robin is trying to deliver an edgier take on Winnie the Pooh, you best perish the thought right away. On the contrary, unlike the recent live-action version of Peter Rabbit, there isn't an ironic or sarcastic bone in Pooh's body. And while other children's adaptations may pride themselves on updating their source material for the 21st-century, Christopher Robin is sincere, old-fashioned and sweet through and through.

For adults, that means your mileage may vary. And if a talking stuffed bear whose name isn't Ted isn't quite your thing, then Christopher Robin may not be for you. For everyone else, however, and children especially, what Forster and screenwriters Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy and Allison Schroeder have done is craft a perfectly wholesome adventure that reminds viewers about the importance of family and the power of imagination.

Add to that a talented voice cast that also includes Peter Capaldi as Rabbit, Toby Jones as Owl, Brad Garrett as Eeyore, Nick Mohammed as Piglet and Sophie Okonedo as Kanga, and what better way to introduce a whole new generation of moviegoers to Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger, too). For Christopher Robin's story may be simple, but it's a simply charming way to revisit the world author A.A. Milne first unveiled to readers over 90 years ago.

Christopher Robin releases August 3rd, 2018 from Walt Disney Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of PG for some action. Its runtime is 1 hr. 44 min.

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