Christopher Robin

FAMILY NIGHT AT THE MOVIE | By Christopher Hill –

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing. It can cloud our thoughts and cause us to make poor decisions as we glorify things in our past, not seeing them for what they really were. Emotions can be powerful. Hollywood has often used nostalgia to sway wallets. Recently Disney has been at the forefront with a rash of live-action retellings of classic animated fare. The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella combined for nearly $3 billion in gross receipts. Billion with a “B.” Such is the power of nostalgia.

In 2018, Disney is at it again with Christopher Robin, a live-action Winnie the Pooh. The characters first appeared in book form — there were a few poems previously — in the 1926 novel Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne. The stories vary but center on a honey-ravenous stuffed bear and his friends’ adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood. In 1966, Pooh and his merry band of compatriots joined Disney, and from then on, the characters were forever formed in the lexicon of our youth. In recent times, most of the adventures were resigned to direct-to-home video releases or animated television series geared toward younger children. Christopher Robin is the first major release featuring that “silly old bear” in a very long time.

As if the title wasn’t a clear giveaway, the movie Christopher Robin centers around the character Christopher Robin. In the stories, Christopher Robin is a young boy who shares in the adventures, often acting as the adult in the group. In the movie, this Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is all grown-up and has forgotten his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. Work is his mantra; he has no time for play. His wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), is concerned about the effect this is having on their daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), whose attempts to please her father are only bringing her misery.

Madeline Robin (Bronte Carmichael), Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), Evelyn Robin (Hayley Atwell), Eeyore, Piglet and Tigger in Disney’s live-action adventure Christopher Robin. Photo by Laurie Sparham.

Despite the period piece based in 1940s England, it relates to modern families’ daily struggle to live in the real world, with all the stress and toil that brings, while raising children and hoping they can find joy in it all.  On clear display is a parent’s guilt from being the breadwinner and raising a family he seldom sees due to that earning status. Is it worth it? That is the question Christopher Robin must face: his job or his family? Luckily he is not alone. When he needs help, Pooh (Jim Cummings) and his friends are there for him — this time away from the Hundred Acre Wood and into the “real” world.

There are fish-out-of-water antics to be sure, and my favorite of the group, the ever-dour Eeyore (voiced by Brad Garrett), steals many a scene with his depressing point of view. Truly Pooh is who we would aspire to be – warm, simple and unassuming – Eeyore is who many of us tend to be glum, waiting for the next shoe to fall. Through it all, we see a man who begins to realize what’s important in life. Maybe the rush of the real world was not the goal. After all, sometimes when you do nothing at all, something happens.

There is no secret where the story is going to end up. No mystery. Just an enjoyable ride. Is it the nostalgia talking? Having grown up in my own version of the Hundred Acre Wood, I am sure wistfulness got ahold of me sometime after the first credit hit the screen. I could talk about some odd characters in the film that don’t seem to fit, jokes that miss their mark, a child who has never played or a straight-as-an-arrow linear story, but those criticisms miss the mark and are not worth detailing. Just like the Pooh stories, the movie reminds us of what is important in life — not our place or stature, but where we put our time and energy.

The film is cinematic comfort food. In a time where up is down and left is right, it is nice to take a break with the family and travel back in time to reconnect with some old friends. Watching Christopher Robin is like pulling up a warm blanket on a cold, rainy day and reading by a crackling fire. It is comfortable, warm and incredibly cozy.

Christopher Robin

Now Showing: In Theaters
Rated: PG
Violence: None
Language: None
Sexuality: None

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