REVIEW: Christopher Robin
Ever since Loggins and Messina tugged on our heartstrings with the wistful ‘70s ballad “House on Pooh Corner”, the notion of saying goodbye to childhood playmates has tinged A.A. Milne’s delightful Winnie the Pooh stories. It was seemingly inevitable that the song would be turned into a story, which more or less explains this summer’s Christopher Robin. The film, out now from Walt Disney Home Entertainment is incredibly predictable but still charming in its own way.
We have an adult Christopher (Ewan McGregor) who has married Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and they have a daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). However, the joy of childhood is gone in his life, replaced with drudgery, as he has become the London equivalent of the salaryman, working for a gray luggage company with inept management.
While the audience is shown that the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood gang – Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings), Owl (Toby Jones), Tigger (Jim, Cummings), Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), and Roo (Sara Sheen) – are aware Christopher has grown and left them behind, they have no real sense of time.
Circumstances, though, allow Pooh to enter Christopher’s world and they have an awkward reunion, as at first, he’s delighted to see the “silly old bear” but has already given up his much-needed family vacation to find a plan to salvage the company or fire half the staff. Pooh becomes an impediment, as he has to bring the playmate back to the Wood.
Once home, we know he’s going to reconnect with his childhood, resolve the work issues, rekindle his family connections, and all will be well with the world. So, the question comes down to execution. The screenplay by Alex Ross Perry, Tom McCarthy, and Allison Schroeder is serviceable but lacking in whimsy and charm so director Marc Foster does what he can. The CGI is a delight and the interaction of humans and animals works just fine.
Foster makes an interesting choice in having London and the Wood but darker, overgrown, and less than welcome, equating the two is odd when we’re expecting more of a contrast. They certainly stand out in sharp contrast to the visual humor and wide-eyed reactions when people meet the animal gang for the first time.
The film is entertaining enough but you wanted more than the expected. At least the high definition transfer, retaining the original 2:39:1 aspect ratio, nicely captures the tonal differences in location. It comes with a fine 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix as well.
The Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD multiscreen pack offers up some nice, not great, special features. We start with “A Movie is Made for Pooh,” (5:28) the standard behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew chatting it up; “Pooh and Friends Come to Life,” (3:16) Carmichael narrates this look at the 3-D CGI renderings required for the production; “Pooh Finds his Voice,” (2:43) Cummings gets the well-deserved spotlight and he nicely credits his predecessor, the late Sterling Holloway; and then we end with “Pooh and Walt Become Friends,” (2:43) which revisits Walt Disney’s introduction to Pooh via his daughter Diane, and what happened next.
For those who use the Digital HD at Movies Anywhere, you get an exclusive feature: “In Which…We Were Very Young” (3:51), which gives us insight to the real Christopher Robin.