Christopher Robin (2018) 

Reviewer: Charity Bishop

It's time to grow up.

Determined to give their best friend, young Christopher Robin, a proper-send off as he leaves for boarding school, the occupants of the Hundred Acre wood behind his house gather to say goodbye. Rabbit calls for a speech. Piglet gives Christopher a bag of his best acorns. Roo and Kanga wipe away tears. Owl pontificates. Eoyre recites a melancholy poem. And Pooh walks with him out to their favorite spot, to say goodbye. Christopher promises he will never, ever forget his stuffed animal friends...

But he does. Years, a marriage, a child, and a war later, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is busy with the "real world." When his tyrannical but lazy boss (Mark Gatiss) demands Christopher find ways to cut their overhead in the luggage business or lay off five employees, Christopher has no choice but to cancel his planned weekend with his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). The two sullen women in his life travel off to his childhood cottage without him... and he settles in to finding budget cuts.

That same morning, Pooh awakens to a gloomy day in the Hundred Acre Wood. Since he has no honey left in the cupboard (mysteriously), he waddles off to find Piglet... and, to his concern, can locate none of his friends. Walking away from where he has been leads him to the tree Christopher Robin used to come through, and finding it ajar, Pooh decides to go through it in search of his old friend. They find one another, and in an effort to return Pooh home, Christopher Robin finds more than his old stuffed animals... he finds that the child within him is not dead after all.

Though content-light enough for children in the rating, this film is more for adults -- those of us old enough to remember the sweet innocence of our childhood. It contains many heart-touching moments of nostalgia and sweetness, but also the bittersweet taste of adulthood. It invites its audience to remember that you can grow up, without losing your imagination, your happiness, or your awareness of those things that matter most. It asks the audience to allow children to be children awhile longer, and, as adults, to find time to "play." In an increasingly cynical world, it's a pleasure to find a movie focused on small but meaningful adventures, that invites us to remember that, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, we need not "pretend" to be so grown up as to not enjoy children's stories.

The film starts out melancholy and sad, as Christopher says goodbye to his childhood friends and endures a war, but does find its happiness along the way -- even as Eoyre provides some beautiful comic relief in his continual melancholy. Pooh is an absolute delight, a profoundly sweet, sincere, and even wise little bear, even if, as he admits, he is a bear of "very little brain." McGregory handles the transition well from an out of touch father, obsessed with work, and crabby with his stuffed animal friends (as a nuisance) to an imaginative adult able to become a child again for a short time, much to their delight. His scene of battling an imaginary creature in the wood is sheer delight. And, really, that's how I felt throughout most of this film -- a sense of childish wonder and joy. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me grateful that I, too, had a childhood of grand adventures of the imagination. It's well worth seeing, at least twice.

     
Sexual Content:
None.
 
Language:
None.
 
Violence:
Slapstick (a man crashes into a lamp post face-first; another crashes a car; a man falls into a deep hole.)

 
Other:
None.