Movie Review: Christopher Robin

I’m a big Winnie-the-Pooh fan (specifically a big Eeyore fan), so I’m a bit surprised it took me as long as it did to finally watch the live action “sequel” to the films and books: Christopher Robin. But it’s been on my list for a while, and I got around to it last week with the fam. My feelings on the movie are . . . mixed. Parts were fantastic, and parts were bad.

First, the good. It was so much fun to see the characters interacting with each other. Yes, they looked different than they did in the cartoon versions and the book illustrations. More like a hybrid of both. But the voices were great for Tigger and Pooh (because they used the same voice actor as the cartoons, Jim Cummings), and that made a good impact. When the core characters were just allowed to be themselves and do their thing, it was a lot of fun. There were some great callbacks to the stories and films, and as a fan, I appreciated those.

My kids liked the movie as well. It was entertaining throughout (with a few exceptions I’ll get to in a moment.) All told, I gave the film a 6/10. I liked it, but the flaws just kept holding it down in my estimation. What were they?

For one thing, the first half of the movie is flat out depressing. Christopher Robin leaves the Hundred Acre Woods and grows up to have his life consumed by work. It was a big enough down that MC actually began to cry in the middle of the sequence. A film that takes Winnie-the-Pooh as a conceit and then makes something that makes 6 year olds cry is taking its dramatical aspirations a bit too seriously, I’d say.

Beyond that, however, I really disliked how they oversimplified “work” in the movie. The older Christopher Robin has a job where things have taken a downturn. He’s got real commitments to keep, but the film portrays that all as a bad thing. That he’s too obsessed with work to have time for his family. In other words, it falls into the tried and true trope of “overworked dad needs to remember life is fun and that he shouldn’t work so hard.”

Except when times at a job really are tough? And people are in risk of losing their jobs? If I were at a company like that and my boss suddenly starts playing with stuffed animals again, I’d have some real complaints.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for work/life balance. But in this movie, it’s vastly oversimplified, and then the solution to it is also very reductive. It’s made out to be this insurmountable problem, and then it’s surmounted with a bit of brainstorming in the last five minutes. (I don’t think I’m spoiling anything when I reveal the film does not have Christopher Robin’s entire family tossed in the poor house at the end.)

The film just felt like it was struggling too hard to be a Serious Family Movie. There were great sprinkles of light-heartedness, but all the depressing stuff kept rearing its head to bring it all sinking back to earth again.

If you’re a fan of the original, it’s worth watching. Just don’t get your expectations up too high, and don’t go into it assuming it’ll be a fun time for the whole family . . .


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