When I was a kid, we read books by the author AA Milne, “Winnie the Pooh”, “The house at Pooh Corner”, “When we were very young” and “Now we are six”. Disney currently owns the rights to Winnie the Pooh and friends, so many youngsters these days might be more familiar with the characters via cartoons than with the original material. The idea of an adult Christopher Robin being confronted by the ‘imaginary’ friends of his childhood sounded like a fun idea. And it was.
Christopher Robin leaves his childhood behind when he goes away to boarding school. Over the years he grows up, marries and has a daughter. His life revolves around his work and he spends less and less time with his family. He is constantly having to work in the evening and on weekends, and at the start of this story, he must cancel a trip to the country with his family because his boss has suddenly announced he must work over the weekend. His wife is angry and his daughter is hurt. They leave without him. This is the setting for the entry of Winnie the Pooh and friends, not so imaginary after all, back into Christopher Robin’s life, reminding him about what’s important.
This stars Ewan McGregor in the title role, and he gives a fabulous performance as the harried working man who, on first seeing Winnie the Pooh, is convinced he has in fact been working too hard and is having a breakdown. McGregor is a delight in his depiction of a man on a journey to rediscover his inner child. Adult Christopher Robin is not a bad man, but he is a man who has lost his joy in life. I get the impression that McGregor had a great deal of fun doing this movie.
The other stand-out (human) role is Mark Gatiss as Robin’s boss Giles Winslow. Winslow is overbearing, pompous, and quite ready to let his subordinates do all the work while he plays golf. He also shows himself to be without ethics and more than ready to push anyone else under a bus if needed, including Christopher Robin. Gatiss is superb in this role, as this is the kind of role he excels in (see Mycroft Holmes in ‘Sherlock’.)
Winnie the Pooh and friends are depicted as walking, talking, stuffed animals, and the effects are very convincing. They are a real throw-back to the cartoons, and also very familiar to anyone who has owned a stuffed animal of any of these characters. The voice actors are also extremely good. Jim Cummings does the voice of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, one of only two actors to be reprising this role from previous work. The other is Brad Garrett, who voices Eeyore, and he is hilarious. The other voice actors include Peter Capaldi as Rabbit, and Toby Jones as Owl. I really enjoyed the depictions of all the voice actors – these characters sounded exactly how they ought to sound.
This film is funny. There are several instances when passersby notice the ‘stuffed animals’ moving and talking, and the resulting shock and double-takes are great fun. There is a great conversation between a taxi driver, a policeman, and a truck driver that is hilarious. The screenwriters (Alex Perry, Tom McCarthy, and Alison Schroeder) excelled themselves, and gave the film a very witty script to work with. There are multiple amusing lines:
Christopher Robin: I’ve cracked.
Winnie the Pooh: Oh, I don’t see any cracks. A few wrinkles, maybe.
Christopher Robin: There’s more to life than balloons and honey.
Winnie the Pooh: Are you sure?
Eeyore: Don’t push me, I’ve only got one speed.
Evelyn: Hello, talking donkey. How are you doing today?
Eeyore: Don’t get me started.
Madeline: What’s a tigger?
Tigger: Oh, I’m glad you asked! Hoo hoo hoo hoo!
Eeyore: Please, not the song.
As you can see, Eeyore got most of the best lines.
So the moral of the story is not to work so hard you can’t see what is of real value, your family. It’s to always remember how to play, how to have fun, how to be child-like, how to do nothing. There is sentiment in this film, but not a cloying amount. It’s a film that is genuinely nice throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and I would recommend it to any adult or child.