Thanks to Walt Disney Pictures, we got to see Christopher Robin before its Australian release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
Marc Forster’s family film, Christopher Robin, is the fifth addition to Disney’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ franchise since 2000, but is the first to be shot in live action. After a brief introduction of the title character as an imaginative and compassionate young boy, we watch as Christopher leaves his animal friends and the picturesque Hundred Acre Wood to journey into the world of adulthood. A crossfade later and we have our first chance to meet Christopher Robin as a grown man (Ewan McGregor) navigating London, falling in love with future wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and reluctantly leaving her an expectant mother as he goes off to fight in WWII.
Upon Christopher’s return, we see him juggling elements of adult life, trying and failing to find a balance between giving time and affection to Evelyn and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) while also holding down a managerial job at Winslow Luggages, a company presided over by the hard-nosed and somewhat useless Giles Winslow Jr. (Mark Gatiss).
McGregor delivers one of his trademark consistent performances, bringing out the internal battle of the character through his range of expression and precise middle-class English accent. The relationship between McGregor, Atwell and Carmichael is heartfelt, though Christopher Robin’s façade of business before family is fuelled by scenes where Gatiss provides a convincing sense of the way playfulness, and ultimately humanity, might be lost in the pursuit of careers and efficiency targets.
In this way, the film carries a strong and unmistakeable series of messages, and at the spearhead of their delivery are the brilliantly voiced animals, particularly the lovable Pooh Bear (Jim Cummings). Cummings brings out the tenderness and wisdom of the famous toy bear, seizing every opportunity to hit the mark with one of Pooh’s sayings and innocent questions – “Doing nothing often leads to the best something”. Cummings also voices energetic Tigger, alongside an anxious Piglet (Nick Mohammed) and the melancholy tones of Eeyore (Brad Garrett). The animals, which are animated in the fashion of plush toys, make a humorous venture into London with Madeline to try to rescue Christopher from corporate disaster – “Perhaps it’s our turn to save Christopher”. Notable cameos from some of Britain’s TV stars add extra light, including Peter Capaldi as the voice of Rabbit, as well as a scene which brings together Matt Berry (The I.T. Crowd), Simon Farnaby (CBBC’s Horrible Histories) and Mackenzie Crook (The Office) in a moment of anecdote-like comedy.
Bookended by line drawings in the style of E.H Sheppard, who illustrated A.A Milne’s original story Winnie-the-Pooh, Forster has created a film full of emotion and nostalgia; one that should be equally enjoyable and meaningful for an adult audience as for children. It seeks to challenge the adult mindset, reminds us to find joy in the little things and to rediscover our more down-to-earth childlike side.
In cinemas 13 September 2018