The Disney renaissance of the Disney renaissance continues to color itself to fruition, building upon creations from the past as we can expect a “Fantasia” remake any day now. Marc Foster’s “Christopher Robin” is the newest reinvention, a film honoring both the adults and children perspectives in the audience, carrying a familiar and gently warm-hearted touch that manifests an enjoyable theatrical experience. The rendition of A.A Milne’s classic character doesn’t arrive too the silver screen without its fair amount of criticisms though, from the “childhood nostalgia makes for a better adult” cliche to the evolution of the core programming behind the characters purpose. You'll find a film that is reminiscent of your time Hundred acre-wood, but not entirely the same experience you remember having.
The tale is Disneyfied, simplifying itself around the character of Christopher Robin (Ewan Mcgregor) who finds himself as an adult now, with adult responsibilities. He’s a funds manager for a luggage company, tasked with discovering loops and holes in the paperwork and numbers of the finances so that he can lower costs while maintaining everyone’s employment with the company. The stress of that kind of occupation can become overwhelming, and it does as we see Christopher (Ewan Mcgregor) begin to carry out the same tiresome cliche of a man obsessed with work far more than he appreciates the ones who love him.
Attempting to send his child, Madeleine (Bronte Carmichael) off to boarding school, and unable to carve out time for a weekend trip with his lovely wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell). He finds himself in desperate need of a reminder in what it is to enjoy life, luckily his silly old bear of a friend has found himself in a bit of a pickle as well. The entire gang as seemingly vanished, perhaps a "Hepahlump" has finally attacked hundred acre wood. In a wild time of need, the lifelong friends are reunited once more to save both the gang in hundred acre wood and the misleading path that Christopher Robin (Ewan Mcgregor) finds himself traveling upon.
All of this sound just a tad bit familiar, doesn’t it? And it is, it's a whole lot of familiar paths that you're walking down, seeing the same footprints left before you by other storytellers, all of that is fine and dandy though. “Christopher Robin” strongest moments are those points where the child inside of you whispers “I remember that.” It's those sequences of discovering hidden treasures within your memory that form that lump in your throat, or that sniffle in your nose, or those goosebumps down your spine where you find yourself reconnecting with that childhood mindset we all once had.
The trips back into Hundred Acre wood is one filled with triumph and heartwarming tenure, one that if you're like me and have been absent for a good while, will leave you buried in a mountain of tears. Where those tears dry up is the moments of familiarity in the storytelling, the cliches of it all, the Disney stoplights in this nostalgic traffic jam.
Those scenes like the adult rediscovering his naive optimism once again, which Mcgregor does marvelously, all seem so empty of passion due to their lack of ingenuity. Not to mention the severe overreaction by his family, which seemingly berates him with workaholicism for merely trying to save people's livelihoods in a desperate time. The man isn’t addicted to his job. He’s addicted to being a good person, which makes the whole tale feel unnecessary as if it's all a mere figment of imagination scrounged up by a stressful mind in need of some appreciation.
There is no comfort and admiration to be found at home though, his wife and daughter want all the attention or none of it which is a bit extreme. Leading to a carryover in which Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings), Tiger (Jim Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), and Eeyore (Brad Garrett) find themselves apart of the grungy streets of London, which is a bit of a precarious point where the storytelling starts picking apart it's source material. Seeing how these manifestations were meant to be just that, a representation of a boy’s imagination coming to life, not literally, but figuratively. Alex Ross Perry and the four fellow screenwriters decided to go and make these characters literal, which is a bit of spitting on the grave of A.A Milne.
Dismantling the core detail of these characters which is perhaps the most significant drop off in cohesive quality made by Marc Foster, as the cinematography and VFX work is all as magical as the 2D animation, bringing to life the slight smirks and blissful wisdom of Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings). It can become a necessary experience for anyone looking to escape the misery of modern America, one that evokes emotional memoir of childhood.
It’s been a long time since I’ve walked the beaten paths of a hundred acre wood, a long time indeed. Being back in the tall forest, crossing the Poohsticks bridge once more, and seeing the entirety of the community built by these beautiful characters was something of an endearingly enchanting ordeal.
It’s not exactly the way I remember it, Disney moved a few stones here and few trees there, but by the end of “Christopher Robin,” I am counting the minutes that I have been gone. Finding myself searching through my long-forgotten stashes of adventures with Pooh, Piglet, Roo, Kanga, Eeyore, Tiger, Rabbit, and Owl. It makes me want to recount the days I spent in those woods, which is perhaps the biggest compliment I can give to “Christopher Robin.”