I certainly was aware of Winnie the Pooh as a kid, but I don’t remember it being a staple of my childhood. Like anyone, I could name all of the characters, and I generally knew that Eeyore was a downer, Rabbit was a bit neurotic, and Owl didn’t know nearly as much as he thought he did. Still, when I saw the first trailer for Christopher Robin, I was intrigued by the premise, so I added it to my must watch list.
First off, I should say that this movie has a lot of feels. So many feels. Though it has a very happy ending, I still walked out feeling melancholy about the whole thing. The portrayal of Christopher Robin having lost the innocence of his childhood is incredibly effective, such that the feeling of loss stuck with me even through the happy times and the many laughs that the movie offered. That isn’t a bad thing; on the contrary, I believe it means that the movie did it’s job wonderfully.
I especially like the aesthetic of the movie, which really made the characters of hundred acre wood feel like stuffed animals come to life. Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet were especially well done. Rabbit and Owl both seemed like real animals, however, instead of stuffed animals, which made me wonder whether that might have been the original portrayal of them. Did Christopher Robin play in the woods with his stuffed animals AND some real ones?
The acting was on point, as you would expect from Ewan McGregor. Hayley Atwell also did a great job, though her role was more limited than I would have liked. Then again, I’m a Hayley Atwell fanboy ever since Agent Carter, so maybe I’m biased. The movie really makes use of very few actors, overall, though, leaning very heavily on McGregor’s ability to talk to a stuffed animal and Jim Cummings ability to make Pooh seem real despite the absurdity. The latter impressively delivers, making Pooh simultaneously come across as both wise and a bit dense.
I think that ultimately, though, the movie works because of directing. There are a lot of poignant shots when the movie calls for it, and then fast-paced funny ones when it makes more sense. This isn’t a laugh-out-loud affair, as much as it is a small chuckle here and there. The laughs are come by honestly, and most of them end up being endearing, where we aren’t laughing at the situation as much as we are laughing because we see the humor as the characters do.
Though the movie left me feeling a bit sad, I still highly recommend it. Children will likely enjoy it, and certainly won’t be scandalized by any of it, but I think the parents of a certain age will probably gain the most from it. You’ll be glad you watched it, and probably, like me, want desperately to still want a balloon.