“I do not make films primarily for children. I make them for the child in all of us, whether he be six or sixty.”
This is a Walt Disney quote I’ve seen circulating that really resonates with this particular movie. Marc Forster’s Christopher Robin is a hidden gem of a movie that requires a particular audience’s attention. This film filled with talking, CGI, stuffed animals caters to the adults who knew these characters when growing up.
Forster raised the argument that age could destroy innocence. This introspective theme about our mortality is completely experienced through the eyes of aging Ewan McGregor’s Christopher Robin. All of us who grew up with the 100 Acre Wood characters are forced to age with Christopher Robin and then react to what a “silly ol’ bear” with a 90-year life span has to say about our maturity levels. In a similar manner that the story of Inside Out’s Bing Bong represented Riley losing her child-like innocence, Winnie the Pooh represents that innocence that just won’t quit; even after growing up.
What could be taken as Disney’s first Indy film, Christopher Robin sets up nostalgia by showing us the live-action version of the animated series, movies, and books a lot of us grew up with. Afterwards, in Disney fashion, we get one of the saddest growing up montages that essentially shows us how Christopher develops PTSD. Yeah, it’s that type of movie... No “Hakuna Matata” here!
That’s not a complaint, but there are some minor downsides to the tone of this movie. Unfortunately, this very simple story can sometimes be just that; simple. It’s charming simplicity could easily be confused with a stagnant or a slow plot. It's so simple I really have nothing to say about Hayley Atwell, one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood right now. It also doesn’t help that Jim Cummings, the voice actor for Pooh and Tigger, is older now which results in delivering most of his lines slower. Opposite to that, the way Brad Garret delivered his lines as Eeyore are perfectly somber and heartwarming. It parallels how charming Winnie the Pooh’s lines were written.
One of my favorite things that this movie does is that it doesn’t try to get make sense of the world. There’s no explanation as to why there’s a magic tree that leads Christopher Robin into a land with live, stuffed animals and a talking rabbit and owl. While there is skepticism by those who haven’t interacted with those characters, there’s no trying to find logic in it. It relies on the belief that it’s plausible the same way fables would be told. There’s a lesson that you’re supposed to take away: even when grown up, don’t lose that inner child. Or as Walt would call it: “child innocence”.
At the end of the day this movie is not the summer blockbuster everybody will want to see, but it is the reminder every inner child needs. Melancholy and potent themes are addressed and if at any point you liked that willy, nilly, silly ol’ bear, then this is the movie for you.