For the past decade or so, Disney has been going and remaking – or, “reimagining” as they like to say – their classic cartoon films and making them live action. Most of them have been well-received, but have also left people wondering why they were needed in the first place. I went into Christopher Robin thinking it would be more of the same, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Fortunately, it doesn’t just retell a familiar story as the likes of Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast did. Instead, we get a new little adventure from the gang. The film follows Christopher Robin as an adult, having outgrown his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. And that is its main problem. It opens so promisingly on a young Christopher saying goodbye to Pooh and all his friends. In the first five minutes, it begins to pull at your heartstrings like Winnie the Pooh trying to pull down a beehive full of honey.
But it begins to falter almost immediately afterwards. We meet the adult Christopher who now has a wife, a daughter, and a job that he spends too much time at. Just about everything about him when we are reintroduced to him is unlikeable and it is obvious that the movie is about to send a message about the importance of family and the importance of staying young. These themes and messages ultimately land, but only somewhat.
Overall, though, this is a very enjoyable movie. This is mostly due to the charming nature of Pooh, Piglet, and the rest of the gang. They bring the same magical attitudes and feelings that they always have and it is almost impossible to not consistently chuckle at their antics. They serve as a reminder of what is actually important, as they bring Christopher back into the Wood and remind him of something he once knew.
Christopher’s character arc isn’t entirely convincing and the plot is one that you’ve probably witnessed a few times before, but there is still something extremely satisfying and heartwarming about watching this group of characters (extremely realistically brought to life via CGI) interact with each other and with Christopher.
As any good children’s movie does, it has a message that is aimed both towards kids and towards adults. While kids will be entertained by the lighthearted atmosphere the movie creates, they will still receive a message about what is truly valuable in life. Adults, on the other hand, will be shown a mirror and force them to ask themselves how they are going about their lives and what they are prioritizing.
But at the end of it all, everyone will be emotionally moved. Like Pooh’s belly after eating a jar of honey, you will leave this movie with a heart full of sweet delight.