After last year’s Goodbye Christopher Robin sought to tell the darker side of A.A. Milne’s classic Winnie the Pooh stories, Marc Forester’s Christopher Robin embraces the far more majestic aspects. It ultimately proves a little light and, perhaps, a bit too gentle, but it certainly isn’t without its charm.
Void of any real conflict and absent on the villain front, Christopher Robin seems mainly to exist as one of those “message” movies, with our titular Christopher (Ewan McGregor) sought out by his Hundred Acre Wood pals – Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Owl, and Rabbit – in their bid to remind him what it is to enjoy life; the gorgeously rendered opening credit sequence introduces us to a young Christopher (Orton O’Brien) whose promise to Pooh and co. that he’ll never forget them proved temporary.
As his wife (Hayley Atwell, sadly underutilised) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) feel the sting of his grown-up responsibilities, Christopher eventually faces the music when Pooh (voiced so gorgeously by Jim Cummings) stumbles into his backyard after a 30-year absence and sets out to re-invigorate the child-like mentality housed deep within Christopher’s psyche. Just as downtrodden and heavy as it sounds, Christopher Robin eventually picks up steam when the film embraces Pooh and his cohorts, allowing the stunning voice work (which also includes a glorious Brad Garrett as the pessimistic Eeyore) and seamless visual effects to earn the attention they so deserve.
Aside from a chaotic car chase sequence through a bustling London and a momentary showcase of WWII imagery, Christopher Robin is harmless, tame filmmaking that serves as a loving reminder of how tender the genre can be presented. Younger children should warm to it, though it lacks much of the spark older audiences may have become accustomed to following years of near-flawless efforts from the Pixar brand.