Christopher Robin

 

            This whimsical little tale is the kind of movie parents will want their children to watch.

            Based on the characters created almost 100 years ago by a British author, A.A. Milne, Disney gives us a combination of “real” people and animation, constantly interacting. 

            We beging with Christopher Robin as a boy, playing in the 100-acre woods, gaining entrance through a hole in a tree trunk to a magical part of the forest where his little animated friends live.  Winnie the Pooh is a teddy bear who loves honey, and balloons, and what's happening today.  Tigger is the bouncy, energetic one, offset by Eeyore, the complete pessimist.  Owl appears to be wise, but is actually forgetful.  There's also piglet, rabbit, kanga, and roo, but you get the idea.  All these friends of Christopher Robin are giving him a farewell party, because he's going off to boarding school.

            Much time passes.  Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) meets his lovely wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) on a train.  When he goes off to war, she is pregnant with their daughter, Madeline.  When he finally comes home, he works at a family-owned luggage company, where he's risen to manager, but it's a lot of constant pressure.  He begins to neglect his family life because he's always working.  When he does finally see Madeline late at night, instead of reading her a bedtime story, he gives her a history lesson, because he wants her to be smart enough to go off to boarding school, also.  She doesn't really want to go, but he doesn't seem to hear her objections.  Evelyn wonders why it's been so long since she's seen her husband smile.  All the fun seems to be beaten out of him.  And the enchanted 100-acre forest is but a distant memory.

            All of that changes the weekend when Christopher says he's too busy to go the country cottage with them, he has to stay in the city to work, because he has to prepare an important presentation about cost-cutting. This is when Winnie the Pooh re-appears in his life.  It takes a while, but gradually Christopher Robin gets back in touch with his inner child.  He's much happier now, and delighted to spend time with his family.  And it even makes him better at work.

            Though part of the appeal of Winnie the Pooh is the way he enjoys every moment of leisure, saying that doing nothing always leads to something, still, there are moments when the pacing is a bit too deliberate.  But there's a hopeful message here, about the importance of play, and relaxation, and family time.  It's a good antidote to all of us who might be occasionally tempted to take ourselves too seriously.

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association