Disney’s CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is not what you might be expecting. It certainly wasn’t what I thought it would be. I was expecting a biography of the movie’s namesake with his beloved stuffed animals and their story, as well. It’s more of a fantasy of what life might have been like for the Christopher Robin of the Hundred Acre Woods, though there are actual facts here and there in the movie, like Pooh’s age (he was a first birthday gift to the real Christopher Robin). Continue reading for our CHRISTOPHER ROBIN review.
The movie opens with the familiar story pages crossing the screen (I have always loved Disney’s storybook theming), then bringing us in to the Hundred Acre Woods. The story pages dissolve into the real woods, where Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, and Roo (Pooh and the Gang for short) are throwing a farewell party for Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin is off to boarding school. After a sweet farewell between Pooh and Christopher Robin, a series of vignettes take us through Christopher Robin’s life until he is an adult, busy adulting in post-war London, far far away from the Hundred Acre Woods. He’s so busy being an efficiency expert, in fact, that he has no time for family or friends, just work. Work responsibilities keep him home from his planned weekend away with his family. Christopher Robin bids his wife, Evelyn, and his daughter, Madeline, farewell as they go off to his old home in Sussex without him.
Back in Hundred Acre Woods, Pooh has been missing Christopher Robin quite a lot and sets off to find him when he awakens one morning to no hunny and no friends and a woods full of fog. He ends up in a park in London where (thanks to neighbor MacGuffin – not really his name, but it would have been funny) Christopher Robin finds him. The reunion sends Christopher Robin back to the Hundred Acre Woods where he and Pooh look for the rest of the gang. The search helps him find more than just his old friends and reminds him of what’s truly important.
As Christopher Robin heads back to London for his meeting, Madeline discovers Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger. One of the best aspects of the story is that there is no pretense that stuffed animals are supposed to talk, leading to very humorous interactions when they leave the Hundred Acre Woods. Madeline and Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Tigger all set off to help Christopher Robin, making a very interesting journey from Sussex to London to try to find his office. Evelyn follows and, when they find Christopher Robin, they help him figure out that the company has been looking at the problem all wrong.
All work and no play have changed Christopher Robin, but rediscovering Pooh and the Gang, who haven’t changed much at all, reminds him of the boy he used to be. His daughter’s expedition (her quest is to reach him before his important meeting) and his wife’s Pooh-like wisdom help him with work. Farewells and doors are symbolic elements in the movie, reinforcing the themes of transition and change. Pooh is just as wise in this story as he usually is. I think my favorite line is “People say nothing is impossible. I do nothing every day.” There’s another very excellent one about travel (sort of), but it’s not in the trailer, so I’ll let you discover it for yourself. Sprinkled throughout the movie are the classic Hundred Acre Woods songs, which tugs a bit at the old heart-strings, especially in this very different version, plus a few new ones, as well. Keep an eye out for other beloved elements of the original story, too.
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN is friendly for families of all ages (please note that it is rated PG – perhaps because of the action scenes, though there is no real violence). Even if the messaging is lost on the youngsters, they’ll be thrilled to see Pooh and the Gang in their original glory. The story is heart-warming and the new Christopher Robin is charming (how could he not be when played so brilliantly by Ewan McGregor). Be sure to stay for the credits for a very special cameo.