Heartwarming Family Drama
Christopher Robin is the sort of heartwarming drama that’s likely to divide critics and audiences alike. On the one hand, the clichéd tried-and-tested story about a man discovering the importance of family over a career has been rehashed and repackaged a million times over on the big screen leaving little room for originality. On the other hand, Christopher Robin makes up for these shortfalls with buckets of charm and nostalgia, bringing the creatures of the 100 Acre Wood to life with flair and a profound understanding of how these characters should behave.
The story begins with a brief prologue, introducing us to Christopher Robin and the various characters in the 100 Acre Wood as they bid farewell to their childhood friend as he packs his bags ready for a new adventure at boarding school and beyond. From here, the story shifts forward to show a very different person to the wondrous, adventure lusting child we encountered early on, one who’s been beaten down by years of arduous grinding and hard work into a man dedicated to better his career at the expense of his family. The thematic structure of the film rests solely on this internal struggle as Christopher Robin comes face to face with Winnie The Pooh and a reflection of his own childhood memories as the bear inexplicably stumbles into London. The story itself is largely predictable and very early on you’re likely to figure out where the story will end up. In many ways there’s a sense of self-awareness here as the film relies on its heartwarming drama to drive the narrative forward rather than peppering in unique plot twists and surprises.
For the most part it works too and there’s a profound sense of nostalgic joy that comes from seeing Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and the rest of the 100 Acre Wood occupants on the big screen. The animation, including the detailed work on fur and facial expressions, is extremely impressive too with just enough detail to allow them to embrace their unique quips and personas. Expect plenty of references to honey, Tigger bouncing and singing, Piglet cowering in fear and of course glum Eeyore to be the highlights of the film and it’s here that Christopher Robin excels as a family drama. There’s a real understanding of the source material and every character has been faithfully recreated, behaving exactly as their book counterparts would. While you could nitpick and bemoan the lack of awareness from busy Londoners to talking stuffed animals wandering about, the amount of charm the film packs makes it easy to look past these shortcomings.
The excellent musical score and another inspiring performance from Ewan McGregor as a grown-up Christopher Robin helps elevate the film too although the supporting cast, including Christopher Robin’s daughter Maddie (Bronte Carmichael), don’t have a whole lot to do for most of the film’s run time. Still, there’s enough here to make for an entertaining watch nonetheless and there’s sure to be people who really adore the family-friendly focus this film takes to its story. It’s also likely to be the sort of film that’ll benefit from a positive word of mouth, especially after a mixed critical reception to the film. Despite its shortcomings, Christopher Robin is a charming film and while it isn’t without its flaws, manages to nail the feel and aesthetic of Winnie The Pooh perfectly making this a satisfying and enjoyable family feature.