Winnie-the-Pooh and company return in Christopher Robin, a more adult take on the famous children’s characters.
The story opens with Christopher Robin having fun with his animal friends one last time before he goes off to boarding school. Promising that he will never forget them, he bids farewell. Of course, as Christopher (Ewan McGregor) grows up and faces the harshness of reality, he forgets about his exuberant friends and becomes a Jedi…er…head of the efficiency department at a luggage company. This efficiency carries over to his family, where he is more focused on preparing his young daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), for adulthood rather than playing with her or allowing her a chance to experience a normal childhood. Seeing this, his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) hopes to get Christopher away from it all by taking him back to his childhood cottage for the weekend, but work prevents him from going. When left alone, Christopher sinks deeper into his work. At least, until Pooh (Jim Cummings) inexplicably shows up with a dilemma that only Christopher Robin can solve. Their adventure begins, and Christopher slowly breaks through the walls that he has created over the years. Sadly, the journey of him getting there is not always a fun one to watch for the audience.
A Bleak World
All in all, Christopher Robin is a fun movie with a good message. However, its tone does not always complement what is happening in the film, as the lighting and colors are bleak throughout. Think a cold rainy day or Finding Neverland (directed by the same director, Marc Forster). Even in the sunniest scenes, Christopher Robin looks brown and cold, as if this world is one step away from becoming post-apocalyptic. It is understandable why it looks like this at the beginning, as it represents Christopher’s loss of joy in life. But as he begins to find it again, it may have been better for the lighting and colors to grow warmer and brighter. Instead, everything stays bleak through the end.
This is also likely the most serious rendition of Pooh out there. All of the characters are quirky and witty, but there is an underlying sense of sternness in how many of them deliver their lines. Eeyore (Brad Garrett) of course always sounds like this, and his gloominess actually pays off in hilarious ways when contrasted with Christopher’s own views on life. Besides all of that, the message of the film is a serious and heavy one to tackle. Pooh’s charm and interactions with Christopher keeps the film from feeling too grim, but there is only so much that a silly old bear can do.
Overall, the film is a drama with comedic elements. I enjoyed this more serious take and the adventure and reawakening that Christopher Robin experiences, but some may be disappointed by the lack of fun being had by Pooh and friends compared to other Pooh adventures.
The messages of the film are great, particularly about Christopher Robin learning to take a break from being efficient and find the joy that he once had as a child again. It reminded me of Matthew 18:3 when Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” That passage can be interpreted in a number of ways, one of them being that we are to live with joy and passion like a child does. Grief, work, and other life events can often get in the way and bog us down as we get older, making it difficult to appreciate our lives and what God has in store. By finding his joy, Christopher reminds us to find our own joy and not lose sight of the blessings that God has placed before us.
Throughout the film, Pooh suggests that doing nothing is one of the greatest experiences in life. By nothing, he means sitting and appreciating the world. Christopher breaks through his stress and focus on work by slowing down enough to experience his family, friends, and the happiness around him, similar to Psalm 46:10a: “Be still and know that I am God.” It is often in these moments of “nothing” that we find the most beautiful things in creation and in our own lives.
Additionally, Pooh never gives up on Christopher and loves him unconditionally, much like God does. Even when Christopher scolds him and tells him to leave, Pooh maintains his love and patiently waits for Christopher to come to him when he is ready. At one point Christopher shouts that he is lost, and Pooh responds with, “But I found you.” This was all a great reminder to me of the love that God has for us and to cherish life and have fun every now and then.
A Somber But Worthwhile Journey
Ultimately, Christopher Robin may turn some viewers away with its more serious message and dreary tone. Despite this, the film does have some fun interactions between Christopher and his animal friends, and its message is one worth seeing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find my old stuffed animals and make sure that they are okay…