When this was first announced, I could not understand why you wouldn’t lead with the character everyone has fond memories of. In my memory, Christopher Robin was normally the least interesting part of the stories compared to Winnie the Pooh and the other characters. The trailer looked weird, and I’m not 100% sure if I like the animation style of the animals even after watching the film.
What I am sure of though, is that my memory of Christopher Robin being the least interesting part, as distant as it is, still stands correct. Ewan McGregor’s natural charm is discarded for the majority of the first act in the film. After being introduced to the story with a short few scenes with young Christopher Robin, we are thrown straight into Robin’s life which has become obsessed with work.
This first part of the film, from the moment we leave the animals in the opening to when we go back to the 100 Acre Wood, the movie slowly plods through a fairly basic set up for the title characters redemption arc. Ewan McGregor is always entertaining to me, even in the serious scenes that feel a little jarring he gives a good performance. Hayley Atwell has little to do as his wife, but her disgruntlement towards Robin being work obsessed is something I felt reflected the audience’s emotions.
The animals are brought front and centre for the second and third acts and that is where the entertainment is in this film. Eeyore and Tigger are both the main support acts, with Piglet, Owl and the other animals given the back seat. The obvious stand out is of course Winnie the Pooh. The Bear whose love affair with Honey is legendary is simply really fun to watch. His innocent optimism towards everything is heartwarming and funny, even if at times he does overstep the line on how cheesy the dialogue gets.
This is a film aimed at kids of course (I watched it in a cinema full of nostalgic adults but still) and I really think kids will love this. I would have as a kid, I was a tubby kid and Pooh’s constant hunger is extremely relatable for my inner fat boy.
It’s message about growing up not meaning you have to lose your imagination and stop having fun is heavy-handed to say the least. It may as well say it directly to the audience, as there is no subtlety here. Very early on you can see where the story is going and sure enough it goes there with no threat of a twist or surprise. It’s simple and it gives the characters a reason for what they’re doing but there is not much to it beyond that.
Christopher Robin makes an attempt at being a kid’s film whilst still pulling on the nostalgia adults will feel seeing these old characters. The pacing issues and at times unlikable character of Christopher Robin took away from the film for me and I think I’d have liked it more if it was more about Pooh than Robin. It’s hard to criticize too much, as it’s very sweet and entertains when Pooh is involved, for me it could have done more with what they had.
Good: Pooh, Eeyore and the wonderful thing about Tigger’s.
Bad: Even McGregor couldn’t make Robin likeable through the first half of the film. Boring first act drags along.
6/10 – A sweet film but not much more.