Christopher Robin (2018)

[6.0]

Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is all grown up. He’s weathered the horrors of WWII, gotten married, had a child, and now he’s caught in the day-to-day grind of working life. Meanwhile, Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, and the other residents of the Hundred Acre Wood have been carrying on without him for ten to twenty years. But serendipity brings them together, and Winnie decides that Christopher isn’t spending enough time with his family and needs to rediscover his child within… or some shit like that.

Christopher Robin is a little insulting in its depiction of working men. I mean, do busy fathers really want to work every minute of their life to bring home the bacon? Don’t you think they want to spend more time with their families? Movies like Christopher Robin would have them quit their jobs and move their families into the gutter. So I didn’t quite appreciate the film’s unflattering judgment of Christopher Robin’s priorities.

I did, however, like Winnie, Rabbit, Piglet and the others. They are beautifully designed and brought to believable live-action life here. The fact that they’re weathered and color-faded is a beautiful touch. Eeyore made me laugh a few times. The film is at times touching in it depiction of childhood lost and potentially regained. And it’s almost whimsical at times. Almost.

Christopher Robin is an odd, odd movie that doesn’t fit quite here or quite there. Director Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) excels at the melancholy and tries hard to earn some sentimental moments. One has to wonder if he’s the best choice to deliver a family film of this nature — but he’s certainly an interesting choice. It feels like he’s fighting the corporate Disney machine to some extent, as the film goes from bleak and moody to more colorful and predictable, finally landing in the sweet, saccharine, familiar, formulaic, vapid territory to which we’re accustomed in family-oriented entertainment.

On one hand, what child is going to want to watch Marc Forster’s sad-ass rendition of Winnie the Pooh? And on the other hand, why ruin Marc Forster’s sad-ass rendition of Winnie the Pooh by forcing it to look more like one of those talking chihuahua movies? Christopher Robin feels a bit tortured. But you know what? Tortured can be kinda interesting. And certainly better than the usual kiddie fare.

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