For everyone who grew up on A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories the wait is finally over. Disney has released the long awaited action life movie Christopher Robin.The film is a delightful way to revisit beloved childhood heroes and reconsidern the value of family and friendship. But before running to buy those tickets here’s seven things you should know about the franchise sequel.
The plot in a nutshell
This endearing family oriented saga is an imaginary sequel to Milne’s actual written stories. The premise of the storyline is to answer the question of what happened to Christopher Robin after he left his friends and the Hundred Acre Woods.
Viewers are introduced to Robin (Ewan McGregor), a WWII veteran in his mid to late thirties. His life is no longer carefree. In fact, it is riddled with responsibilities and stress. He is working for an ungrateful boss in a large luggage company. His work monopolizes his time, and he finds it impossible to spend any quality time with his wife (Hayley Atwell), and daughter (Bronte Carmichael).
But just as Robin is forced to disappoint his family again by canceling their weekend plans, Pooh and his pals reappear in his life making him question his priorities. The rest of the plot leads to the inevitable dilemma and question- how DOES one balance work and family successfully?
#1 This not your typical Disney movie
This movie isn’t an action-packed adventure like the Toy Story or the Marvel franchise. Though it has a beautifully woven plot, the pace is much slower than most children’s flicks. In fact, the directors’ concept here is to go back to the bare bones of simple storytelling.
There’s very little in terms of jokes, and music except for Tigger’s famous song and another three short ones at the very beginning and end . The best analogy I can come up with is from the art world. While most kids’ movies look like a Miro or Roy Lichtenstein painting in bold vivid oils, this one is a closer to a Turner or Whistler painting with pale watercolors.
#2 Forget Christopher Robin- the real stars of the movie are Pooh and the gang
Both Brad Garrett as Eeyore and Jim Cummings voicing Pooh and Tigger deliver memorable performances. With excellent intonations, they manage to add substance and delightful whimsy to the characters we’ve all come to love over the years.
Although this film’s protagonist is supposedly Christopher Robin, it is actually his stuffed animals buddies who highlight his dilemmas, challenges and help resolve matters.
#3 They all look a bit different
Of course, Christopher Robin isn’t we all remember him to be. But he’s not the only one who has changed!
Some of the younger kids expecting a big orange fluff with a bright red sweater as Pooh will be surprised. Or downright disappointed! In this movie, Pooh and his posse of friends look like redesigned CGI old fashioned plush animals.
But no worries. Though they may look a little different as storyline moves along it is clear they are the same bunch of adorable characters we know!
#4 Is this the real life or is it just fantasy?
Like Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody famous opening line the movie sways between the worlds of reality and fantasy blurring the lines.
The movie doesn’t clarify whether Pooh and the gang are real or a figment of Christopher Robin’s imagination. While they stayed in the Hundred Acre Woods, we all assumed they are a bunch of imaginary friends, right?
Well, in this movie, they get to leave their enchanted wood and step into the real world. And to make it even more confusing for us as spectators, everyone they encounter in London actually SEES and HEARS them.
#5 It is as family friendly as it gets
It is refreshing to find in today’s era a live action PG movie devoid of violence, sexual innuendoes, and crude jokes. The dialogue is simple, and the storyline with its twists and turns is as universal as can be. The topic of death ( Robin’s dad, and the war) is barely mentioned, and the battles with Heffalumps and Woozles are clearly imaginary.
#6 The emphasis on family
As many of you know many Disney movies emphasize the importance of family. In this movie, Christopher Robin is overworked, has a hard time balancing between work and family life and subsequently ignores his wife and child.
What is even sadder is that he doesn’t seem to notice or mind the competitive vortex he has been sucked into. Moreover, he is actively trying to mold his daughter into a copy of himself by emphasizing the fact she should always put work before anything else.
Luckily, Pooh and the gang escape from their carefree paradise and act as interim’ marriage counselors’ of sorts. They get to remind Christopher of the importance of family and friendship hence helping him reconnect with his family.
#7 But it is also about friendship, empathy, and acceptance
This film promotes several messages some clearer than others. The obvious one is about family time. But the more subtle one is about tolerance and empathy!
If you look closely at each of these characters; they all face personal challenges. Pooh is well-meaning but clumsy and with low self-esteem. Owl is a stickler for details in a suspiciously obsessive way. Eeyore is mostly depressed. Piglet is the poster child for over the top anxiety while Kanga and Roo are a bit too dependent on each other.
But the beauty of the story is that they ALL get along. Moreover, they forgive each other’s shortcomings and accept each other unconditionally.
Overall, the collaboration between Alex Ross Perry, Allison Schroeder, and Tom McCarthy is a worthy continuation the Pooh saga. Filled with the classic Pooh witticisms, the themes of family and friendship, adorable CGI characters, and exquisite photography of the English countryside Christopher RoRobin is bound to resonate with fans of all ages.
- Prepare your kids to the change in the characters’ physical appearance as they may not recognize or like the CGI version at first.
- Though the movie does have a happy ending the general mood is a bit sad and might not be suitable for very sensitive kids.
- Discuss with your kids the importance of friendship, imagination and family bonding so they can understand the theme s better.
- Overall, the movie is short and easy to follow.
“Christopher Robin” premieres Aug. 3 in the U.S. Rated PG
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Disclaimer: I was invited to a complimentary screening of Christopher Robin by Disney Studios. However, all opinions are my own.