In Disney’s Christopher Robin, the titular character is finally allowed to grow up. But will he remember how to have fun?
It’s post-war London and adult Christopher Robin now works as an efficiency manager for Winslow Luggage. While his wife, Evelyn (Haley Atwell), and daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), embark on a holiday to Sussex, Christopher stays home to finish a work project. His jerk of a boss, Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss), orders him to work all weekend to cut some 20% of costs. Otherwise, his entire division may be out of a job. He’s no longer a young boy having many fun adventures with Pooh and friends. He’s now become that very thing that many of us never ever wished upon ourselves: a workaholic with no time for fun.
After his family departs, something magical happens when Pooh wakes up and suddenly finds himself in London. This leads Christopher to head to Sussex and find the door in the tree in order to search for his old friends. All he cares about is just getting back to London in time for an important work meeting. He has honestly forgotten how to have fun. Yet an unfortunate mishap means Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger make their way to Sussex and go on an adventure with Madeline as they make their way to catch Christopher in London.
Until now, the large majority of the Winnie the Pooh films have been animated. Disney doesn’t only give Pooh a live-action remake but an update in general. Without technological advances, a film of this nature might not be possible. This also shows the legacy of the photo-realistic advances made during The Jungle Book. Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit and Owl have never before appeared as three-dimensional live-action characters in a film.
“Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something,” Pooh tells Christopher. This line can still be inspirational to those needing to learn to have fun again. As such, the very embodiment of Pooh is still alive.
Disney legend Richard Sherman provides three new songs, two of which play during the end credits. The songwriter isn’t the only person bringing sentimental value. Pooh veteran voice actor Jim Cummings also lends his familiar voice.
Last fall, an A.A. Milne biopic took us a behind the scenes. The film offered us a glimpse into how Winnie the Pooh and company came to be in the Hundred Acre Wood. Many of the key scenes were shot on location, adding to the authenticity. It comes as no surprise that Disney shot in the Ashdown Forest that inspired the books. It’s a vast difference from the busy London crowds.
The idea of allowing young Christopher Robin to grow up was suggested several years ago in an NPR article written by Chicago-based film critic Andrew Lapin. The fact that Disney actually allowed it to happen is a big risk. Even though Christopher grows up, gets married, and has a daughter, none of the animals have even aged a bit in the Hundred Acre Wood. Perhaps it’s possible that the introduction of Madeline can inspire a new generation of Pooh stories. Time will certainly tell.
Pooh’s heart and wisdom may not be enough to match the heart of Paddington. Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin reminds us that it’s okay to have fun as an adult. If we aren’t having fun, we’re not really living.
DIRECTOR: Marc Forster
SCREENWRITERS: Alex Ross Perry and Tom McCarthy and Allison Schroeder
CAST: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Toby Jones, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo