By: Kevin Jordan
If I saw a kid carrying a bunch of stuffed animals and those stuffed animals were talking, I might raise an eyebrow as I walked by. It is 2018 – a talking toy of any sort is commonplace. However, if it were 1948, I might follow the kid home, then find a priest to exorcise the demons. The unanswered question of Christopher Robin is why everyone in late 1940s London who sees a bunch of talking, moving stuffies come to grips with possessed toys in under ten seconds. But, I am getting ahead of myself.
Christopher Robin is Hook on antidepressants. That is not to say Christopher Robin is a sad, disappointing, or depressing movie. It is actually a very good movie that will make you smile. It is just that Hook featured Robin Williams acting like child in a movie that oozes 1991. Where Hook is a manic, neon, skateboarding fever dream, Christopher Robin is a quiet afternoon, curled up on a couch with your favorite book.
The parallels between the two films do not stop at classic childhood-storybooks-turned-movies. Somehow, five different writers are credited with this film (not including A.A. Milne or Ernest Shepard – the original creators of Winnie the Pooh) and all they did was tweak the plot of Hook and swap Pooh and friends in for Peter Pan and friends. Five. Writers. In Christopher Robin, Christopher is all grown up, has an upper-middle class job that sucks up all of his time, to the detriment of his family. Christopher is then drawn back into the fantasy land of his childhood, where his friends do not recognize him, until he learns how to have fun again. Eventually, he realizes how much he loves his family and everyone lives happily ever after. The only thing missing to complete the mirroring is Julia Roberts flitting about, trying to break up Christopher’s marriage.
Yet, despite knowing full well that it would be Christopher Pan due to the previews spoiling every bit of the movie, I found myself enjoying the film. A lot. And that is not just because my six-year old son loved the movie. The child in me that still loves playing with Legos (again, not just because of my son) took over my body for an hour and forty-four minutes and made me a kid again. A kid with sometimes-achy knees, but a kid nonetheless.
Aside from loving Winnie the Pooh when I was a kid, this movie charmed me because Ewan McGregor was the perfect casting choice to play Christopher Robin. In addition to simply being a great actor, McGregor has a smile best described as unbridled joy. Early in the film, his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) points out that he has neither smiled nor laughed in years, which is a huge loss when you live in a city as joyless and dreary as post-WWII London.
Of course, my son would say the best part of the movie were the animals and his opinion of this movie is more important than mine. His favorite was Eeyore because Eeyore has a funny voice. Eeyore is also most of the comic relief in this film, though most of the jokes fly right over the heads of six-year olds. My son also laughed at the slapstick comedy, particularly when Pooh falls down the stairs. I am okay with this until he pushes someone down the stairs…so just make sure you always let him lead if you come to my house.
There is still the open question of the anthropomorphic stuffed animals that everyone can see, when it was thought that they were purely constructs of Christopher Robin’s childhood fantasies. Pooh and friends are not just figments of Christopher’s imagination. They are not just his subconscious projecting onto inanimate objects to break his mind free of this grown-up rut. They literally walk around in London and Sussex and introduce themselves to Evelyn and Christopher’s daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). Christopher literally takes his family to the Hundred-Acre Wood. Eeyore and Tigger scare the hell out of a cab driver, a cop, and food stand proprietor. In the wise words of Winston Zeddemore, “These things are REAL.”
I am really not trying to nitpick, but I want to know why the movie makes it seem like honey spilled on a drawing of Christopher and Pooh is what brought Pooh back. That scene indicated that it took Christopher remembering Pooh to bring Pooh back into reality (Pooh is shown waking up in his tree home when the honey spills), yet the animals just decide to enter real life and talk to Madeline when they feel like it, no Christopher required. Luckily, child-Kevin was still in charge of my body and brain, so none of this made the movie any less fun for me.
And that is the point. Despite being very much a remake of Hook with a watered-down color palette and excellent motion-capture animation, Christopher Robin makes you remember why you liked Hook so much in the first place. It reminds you of being a kid and allows you to forget about the bullshit of life for a while. It is a relatable movie for both kids and adults, much of which is due to it staying very grounded in England rather than the acid trip that is Never Never Land. Admit it – even as a kid, it was absurd to watch a kid dunk a basketball while riding a skateboard in a half-pipe. Then again, Christopher Robin features Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet being catapulted from a speeding trunk onto the windshield of Christopher’s speeding car and the kid in me approves.
Rating: Do not ask for any money back because your childhood memories are worth it.