There have been a few movies that follow the aging of a popular child character. Hook saw Peter Pan, the boy who would never grow-up, well grow-up. Toy Story 3 dealt with the it’s lead child Andy turning into a teenager and moving to college. Even the upcoming Mary Poppins has Jane and Michael Banks as adult children as the titular Nanny floats down into their lives.
That may be it…The point is, that, there are a handful of movies that explore what happens when childhood evolves into adulthood. Oh – and there’s Ted!
The latest character to age is Christopher Robin, of Winnie the Pooh fame. But does adulthood fare well on the A.A. Milne creation?
Directed by Marc Forster, Christopher Robin revolves around the titular character who has grown-up from the 100 Acre Wood, moved to London, and have shuffled awkwardly into adulthood. Having been taught that nothing matters more than work, bouncing from uniform to uniform. Abandoning a family trip in order to work, Christopher Robin is in the middle of a crisis. Luckily, an old friend is about to help him as Winnie the Pooh has ventured to the capital to seek help from Christopher as everyone else in the wood has disappeared. Can the pair reunite and save each other?
Christopher Robin is an average affair with an endearing relationship at the centre of it. The message of how the cyclic agony of adult working life isn’t the most important part of your life is a message that has been trotted out since the dawn of time. Remembering to take time for your family is the staple morale of any live-action Disney film (although, side note, Christopher Robin is literally tasked with saving all his employees and if his family cannot understand that, maybe there is something more serious they need to discuss.) It’s a typical story with not much originality to pull it along.
Still, there is a lot of heart and the centre of it which carries you forward, especially when you meet adorable characters from the 100 Acre Wood. The animation on Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and more is astonishing; giving them a detailed look such as the worn fluff of a much-loved teddy breathes glorious life. Bringing in Jim Cummings to voice Tigger and Pooh give that extra ounce of familiarity (he has been doing the voices for over 30 years,) and it’s hard not to melt with Pooh’s mannerism and lines. He brings a special brand of flippant innocence that makes you brim with joy – a sequence with a red balloon will captivate you with such child-like enthusiasm and happiness.
Quick note: Brad Garrett’s Eeyore is the MVP of this film and the stand-out star.
Ewan McGregor holds his own as the titular character. With an overtly posh 1940s accent, reminiscent of movies such as A Matter of Life or Death or classic propaganda. McGregor has an ability to be a stoic man, weighted down by the troubles of work and yet come alive with a wide-grin and twinkle in his eye the minute he starts to remember the child within. The actor can sweep you up in happiness and take you on a journey, making you believe that world. Hayley Atwell is utterly wasted as his long-suffering wife Evelyn, where her role is to tell him and then worry about her child. It;s disappointing; Atwell can do so much more than the material she is given. Bronte Carmichael does an excellent job as daughter Madeline who desperately wants to connect with her father. They are nice and quaint family.
It’s funny that I’d mention Hook in the first paragraph because there is certainly a lot that this movie borrows a lot from the previous film (including some of the dialogue.) Christopher Robin is a whimsical affair that will certainly appease the steadfast Winnie the Pooh fans. Though the story is somewhat lacklustre, there is a twinkle of childhood and a rambunctious fun that will strike a beat in your heart this gloomy August.
Christopher Robin is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!