Director: Marc Forster
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Nick Mohammed, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Sara Sheen, Toby Jones
IMDB Rating: 8/10
Seveno Rating: 7.5/10
This film was such a beautiful blast from the past for me. The first film I ever saw in the cinema was the cartoon The Tigger Movie, which came out when I was three. According to my parents, I sat, watching this film with so much concentration and enthusiasm, and I cried when Tigger didn’t have a family. These characters have always held a very special place in my heart (especially Eyore, even still at my age I just want to cuddle him and make him happy), so I was really really excited when I heard this film was in the works. And while I wasn’t disappointed, it also wasn’t really what I was expecting.
Christopher Robin, as the title suggests, focuses on the boy who is central to all the old Winnie the Pooh stories, but follows him into adulthood, as we watch Christopher (McGregor) go off to boarding school, loose his father, get married, fight a war, and have a child of his own. And, understandably, we witness him loose all the magic and wonder which made him the beloved Christopher Robin in the first place. So, when life puts him in a situation where he is, as an adult, confronted by his childhood “imaginary” friends, we watch him struggle to consolidate the child version of himself and the mature one. There are funny moments, beautiful moments, and emotional moments, as Christopher’s two very different selves, and very different worlds, collide.
However, while the characters may be right out of children’s books, and while the trailer may make the film look like its full of laughs and adventure, it’s actually so much deeper than that. To me, it felt like the screenwriters and directors wanted to create a film that parents would be dragged along to see, but that actually had a message intended for them. The film reminds us all to not forget life’s priorities, and not to get caught up in work and money, when you have a family and people who you love. Indeed, altogether I got the impression that to a child it may actually be quite a boring film. There aren’t many gags, and its visually a stunning film but perhaps a bit bleak and bland in the eyes of a child.
The filmmakers clearly had a message that they wanted to get across to working parents all around the world: family is what matters. Put your family first. And yes while this is a beautiful message (and one I agree with), its difficult not to sympathise with McGregor’s character, as while he does put in the extra hours at work, and barely sees his family because of it, he does it for them. He does it to give them a better life. He does it to give his daughter the opportunities and the future that she deserves (which, sidenote, is quite nice to see considering when the film is set, and the fact that Christopher treats his daughter in the same way he was treated as a young boy, casting aside the gender stereotypes of the era). Some moviegoers may even argue that the overarching message is unrealistic, that we can’t all just go on holiday and leave our work at the office, and that revisiting our childhood imaginary friends, relearning that “nothing is the best kind of something” may not work out so well for everyone as well as it worked out for Christopher Robin. But remember, this is a Disney film, so it will be idealistic, and a touch unrealistic, but thats the beauty of it.
All in all its a beautiful film – the animation is stunning, the scenery is gorgeous, the people are easy on the eye, and the message is inspiring. I recommend it to any parent, as it may remind you that it is important to switch off. But, be warned, your kids might not find it as impactful or memorable as you do.
I would, however, be interested in finding out how many of the filmmakers who worked on Christopher Robin have families of their own, and how often they worked late nights and weekends to get this film made. Maybe they should take some of their own advice, and focus on the happiness of their children, as opposed to the happiness of everyone else’s.