Coming this week to theaters from director Marc Forster and Walt Disney Studios is the return to the One Hundred Acre Wood and the boy once known as “Christopher Robin.”
Christopher Robin was a young boy who spent all his time in the woods with his friends Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo. Their days were filled with exploration and friendship until Christopher Robin is sent off to boarding school.
As the years pass, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) meets and marries Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), becomes the father of Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), is a soldier fighting years of war and returns home to work at a company called Winslow that makes luggage. He is focused on work, which leaves little time for family.
When he is told by Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss) that the company needs to make cuts, Robin must give up a weekend with his family to work. Evelyn and Madeline are not happy, but go off for the weekend on their own.
Back in the One Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh wakes up to discover that all his friends are gone. As he starts to search, Pooh finds his way to London and Christopher Robin — knowing he is the only person that can help. Imagine the surprise when they meet and Pooh explains that the rest of their friends are lost.
All Robin can think of is how to get this talking bear back to where he belongs without anyone, including his family, seeing him. Battling Heffalumps and the need to get back for an important meeting, Robin loses track of time and races back to London. The problem is that Tigger’s good intentions are about to change everything.
Madeline, Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and Eeyore show Christopher Robin what it means to slow down, remember the people that mean the most and — to do absolutely nothing.
McGregor as the adult Christopher Robin has his nose to the grindstone, doing what he thinks he should be doing — providing for his family. Forgetting his friends in the forest, Robin feels the pressures of responsibility and is now forgetting his own family. McGregor as an actor still manages to have the ability to look child-like when the role calls for it and make it look effortless. His interactions with Pooh are filled with tension until he begins to embrace the simplicity he once knew.
Atwell as Evelyn sees the change in her husband and reminds him that who he is now is not the man she met all those years ago. She wants him to laugh, smile and be a father once again to their daughter, who clearly misses him. Carmichael as Madeline would gladly accept moments, fractions of moments with her father, but doesn’t know how to tell him. Feeling as if everything else means more than she does, it takes the friends in the woods to explain that her father wasn’t always this way. Carmichael is very sweet and even missing time with her father; she still wants to help him succeed!
Jim Cummings voicing Winnie-the-Pooh (also Tigger) had me the moment he began to speak as Pooh. There is such innocence in Pooh, and Cummings brings that so very clear through his voice. Brad Garrett as Eeyore has the perfect voice filled with sadness and humor at the same time. Nick Mohammed as Piglet is perfectly cute, Peter Capaldi as Rabbit is very funny, Sophie Okonedo as Kanga is the mom who watches over everyone, Sara Sheen as Roo loves her woodland family and Toby Jones as Owl is sweet.
Other cast include Oliver Ford Davies as Old Man Winslow, Ronke Adekoluejo as Katherine Dane, Adrian Scarborough as Hal Gallsworthy, Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Ralph Butterworth, Ken Nwosu as Paul Hastings, John Dagleish as Matthew Leadbetter, Amanda Lawrence as Joan MacMillan, Katy Carmichael as Christopher’s Mother, Tristan Surrock as Christopher’s Father and Orton O’Brien as Young Christopher Robin.
Winnie-the-Pooh was created by A.A. Milne, with the first collection of stories finding its way to the hands of children in 1926. Basing the character named after his own son Christopher Robin Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh was a teddy bear that belonged to his son. His son named the toy bear after a black bear he saw at the London Zoo. The rest is history, and what a grand and iconic history it is.
It should be no surprise that Marc Forster directed the film since he also directed the 2004 film “Finding Neverland.” That is another story about the creation of the iconic story of Peter Pan. The feel created by Forster is compelling, tugs at the heart and is giggly delightful.
“Christopher Robin” is a story about what happens once childhood fades into a place we choose to forget. In this case, Christopher Robin is sent to boarding school taking him away from his friends and then adulting through marriage, a war and a job which changes his focus on life.
What makes this film so relatable is that we are all the adult Christopher Robin in some shape or form. We are all so busy “working” that sometimes the good childhood memories, our family and life suffers in the juggling. That is the truth of it, and it’s right there in front of us daily wiping out all else sometimes.
This film brings the simplicity right there in front of us as well with phrases that will be repeated on the regular and all coming from a talking bear. Winnie-the-Pooh sees Christopher Robin exactly as he is — even if he is now an adult. Looking into his eyes, the lovely bear embraces the boy who has become a man, even if the man doesn’t like it.
The characters of Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo and Owl are reminders of friendship and the charm that they bring to one’s life. These woodland creatures are loyal, supportive and want Christopher Robin to remember what is important because it is clear that they deeply love their friend.
McGregor’s portrayal of the iconic little boy who becomes a forgetful man is what I would expect, and yet, his performance still moved me. I will also admit that Pooh and his friends had my heart all tied up neatly in a bow and might have even brought a tear to my eye. Who wouldn’t want friends like that to lovingly remind me to embrace every moment, occasionally smile and remember to do nothing because it will become the best of something.
I absolutely love this film with its nostalgia that gives us a heartfelt look into an iconic boy becoming a man — leaving behind the best group of friends ANYONE could ever have. Pooh and the gang remind us that doing nothing can turn into… like this film… something wonderful.
In the end — sooner or later the past will catch up to you!