Marc Forster movie, children's story, fantasy film, Ewan McGregor film, tigger, piglet

Why “Christopher Robin” Doesn’t Make it Out of the Woods

Amy Kellestine Reviews “Christopher Robin”

If summer movies were Olympic athletes, “Christopher Robin” would barely be going home with a participation ribbon. While there is a certain timelessness to the message of never losing your inner child, there isn’t much that works in this version that builds on the classic children’s stories. In fact, I’d happily rewatch classics like “Mary Poppins” or “Hook” for more entertaining and poignant treatments of the same content.

In the film, director Marc Forster (“Finding Neverland”) asks us to consider what would happen if Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) grew up into a workaholic who forgot all about his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood. Here, he neglects his wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) in order to try and appease his demanding boss and keep his team at the luggage factory employed. Then, when Winnie-the-Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) can’t find his friends, he lands in London to recruit Christopher Robin to help. Grown-up Christopher is at odds with the “silly old bear” and fights until the very end before he gets the message that Evelyn and Madeline have been telling him all along, that “life is happening now, right in front of you!”

The one thing I really did enjoy about the film was the treatment of the computer generated versions of Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Tigger (also Cummings), and Piglet (Nick Mohammed) and the rest of the gang. I thought they were realistic and still looked cuddly without being too creepy or human-like.

But unfortunately, not much else worked for me. First off, while the stuffed animals do offer some good one-liners and a couple of entertaining sequences, there just isn’t enough of their escapades to keep a child engaged throughout the entire show. And neither the plot nor the characters are developed enough to keep the grownup audience interested.

I also object to the fact that everyone (all adults and children alike) can see and hear Pooh and friends, as though they aren’t connected to Christopher’s imagination at all, but somehow are now just magical stuffed animals. Surely they should behave more like the toys in “Toy Story”, where only Christopher and maybe Madeline could see them come to life? Not only would this make better sense from a logic perspective, it would have provided lots more potential for creative and fun plot sequences.

There were also some questionable choices made by Forster, including an out-of-place opening montage with footage from Christopher’s formative years. The footage wasn’t necessary and didn’t add any value for the viewer, as none of the context provided was required to support the plot. I was also concerned that the war scenes might be too graphic for the children who were in the theatre because their parents thought it was a children’s movie.

Unfortunately, while I wanted “Christopher Robin” to be a fresh take on an important message, this movie really missed the mark for me. If you’re in the mood for the antics and lessons from The Hundred Acre Wood, I encourage you to pick up one of the original books instead.

Amy Kellestine headshotAmy Kellestine is an educator, engineer, Arati life coach and entrepreneur living in Edmonton, Alberta. She spends her free time camping, gardening, and volunteering for causes such as Cystic Fibrosis and nature conservation. She is a devoted mother and is passionate about helping others and writing.

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