Christopher Robin movie cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed
Christopher Robin movie director: Marc Forster
Christopher Robin movie rating: 2.5 stars
How does the sight of a bobbing red balloon make you feel? Christopher Robin knows how — and that’s all that matters.
Sometimes, as the two beloved friends of Hundred Acre Wood, created by A A Milne, Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, will tell you, it’s best to do “nothing”. And ‘nothing’ is what this film does, not trying too hard, making it all too easy; not going for laughs but not many tears either; not all for adults but neither going only for the kids… and yet gets somewhere. And that’s all that matters.
Christopher is no longer that boy inhabiting the woods with Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and Roo. He is all grown up, weighed down over the years by a strict boarding school, a World War, a family including a much-loved wife and child, and now by a dreary job at a luxe luggage store that wants him to cut costs.
One particularly bad weekend, where Robin (played as an adult by McGregor) has had to let down his daughter over a trip to the cottage in the countryside whereby lies Hundred Acre Wood, as he has to stay back in London for work, he spills a honey bottle — and then what should happen but Pooh re-enter his life. Robin wonders how the tree through which Pooh appears came to be right in his London home backside. And Pooh, in one of the many simple truisms running through the film, remarks, “Maybe it’s right where it needs to be.”
Not surprisingly, the film is about Robin rediscovering his childhood, and through him, we the lost souls, pining for our own. Like mentioned before, towards that end, Christopher Robin does nothing special, and reduces its characters uniformly to more or less unidimensional figures, though Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond) shines as the cynical Eeyore. Important official documents are misplaced, childhood demons are revealed to be what they must be, father and daughter rediscover each other, as do husband and wife. More disappointingly, the creatures of Robin’s childhood are also visible to everyone around him, when a more ingenuous film would have let them be about a kid’s imagination. That does rob them of some of their magic. It’s also disconcerting at first that the creatures take the form of toys in the film and are not animals per se, though that’s a mild bump eventually as the film deftly mixes animation and live images.
Forster also imbues his film with that very English equanimity, both in terms of its actors who are largely kind, gentle, helpless blokes (led by a kind McGregor), and the sun-dappled, rolling landscapes they inhabit. There is more than one scene of Robin and Pooh (voiced by the veteran Jim Cummings, who also voices Tigger) sitting on a log under a tree leaning at almost 45 degrees, their arms entwined, looking out into the sunset, their hair gently fluttering in the breeze, and talking about “hunny” days and “hummy” days. And all days “today”. For, as Pooh says, “Yesterday, when I thought about tomorrow, it was too much day for me.”
Just the kind of days we all know of.