'Christopher Robin' is a charming reminder of life's most important priorities
By Diane Carson
Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Roo, Owl, Kanga, Eeyore, and Winnie-the-Pooh – these wonderful characters contribute to director Marc Forster's charming film with the simple title "Christopher Robin." Based on A.A. Milne's 1926 and 1928 books, the live-action story with simple, appealing animation quickly establishes Christopher's WWII experience, marriage to Evelyn, daughter Madeline, and job as an efficiency manager at Winslow Luggage.
Christopher leaves and essentially forgets Hundred Acre Wood, consumed by his job to the point that he neglects Evelyn and Madeline, even sending them off without him on a promised vacation weekend. Enter Winnie-the-Pooh, aka Edward Bear and Pooh Bear in Milne's original creations. "Winnie" came from Milne's son Robin's toy bear named for a London Zoo's Canadian black bear from a man connected to Winnipeg, Manitoba. "Pooh" came from a swan.
Christopher's daunting problem involves finding a way to drastically reduce company costs. Reentering Mr. Robin's life, Pooh becomes the catalyst for a very different kind of adventure, one that will reassert the real values and priorities in life. After all, Christopher has succumbed to the Woozels, slinking little monsters that get everyone else to do their work for them.
As Christopher Robin, Ewan McGregor beautifully interacts with and surrenders to The Pooh with his understated, surprising, wise pronouncements such as, "Nothing leads to the very best of something." Hayley Atwell as Evelyn and Bronte Carmichael as Madeline hit every note without overdoing the emotion. As critical, long-time vocal talent Jim Cummings is the essential, perfect voice of the calm, insightful Pooh and of the bubbly, wildly energetic Tigger. Not colorful or splashy, the cinematography keeps the magical world front and center.
Familiar messages pepper the proceedings. Christopher tells Pooh, "You're different and people don't like things that are different." But, above all, this story invites all of us to relax, to enjoy life and not get lost in our jobs to the exclusion of what really matters. It's well worth the reminder, especially when it comes in such an enchanting way. Suitable for all ages, "Christopher Robin" screens at area cinemas.