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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Christopher Robin, rated PG
*** ½

Christopher Robin is a delightful family-friendly film based on A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh book and characters. The film is a combination of live action and digitally enhanced “stuffed animals”, and contains some excellent messages about the importance of family and friends.
The film is directed by Marc Forster (Finding Neverland) and the screenplay is written by Alex Ross Perry, Oscar winner Tom McCarthy (Spotlight), and Oscar nominee Allison Schroeder (Hidden Figures).
When Christopher Robin, played by Golden Globe winner Ewan McGregor (Fargo), was a young boy, he would play with Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the Hundred Acre Woods. But when he was sent to boarding school he began to forget them. Now Christopher has grown up. He is a World War II veteran, is married to Evelyn, played by Golden Globe nominee Hayley Atwell (The Pillars of the Earth), and has a young daughter Madeline, played by Bronte Carmichael. He works as the leader of the Efficiency Department of the struggling Winslow Luggage Company in London. On a Friday, his boss Giles Winslow, played by Emmy winner Mark Gatiss (Sherlock), tells him that a meeting has been scheduled for the following Monday with Gile’s father, the owner of the company. As a result, Christopher will have to work all weekend to find a way to reduce expenses by 20%; if not, people will lose their jobs. Christopher already had plans to go with his wife and daughter to their cottage in Sussex for the weekend. He has to tell them that he can’t go, but he wants them to go ahead and make the trip while he works in London. This is obviously not the first time that the family has suffered at the expense of Christopher’s job. In addition, we see that Christopher is pushing his daughter to succeed academically at the expense of enjoying her childhood, and has plans to send her away to a boarding school that she doesn’t want to go to. This part of the film – showing how Christopher had prioritized his job over his family – went on a bit too long, and won’t connect with younger viewers there to see Pooh and his friends.
The film takes us to a foggy Hundred Acre Woods, and we see that Winnie the Pooh, voiced by Jim Cummings, has lost his friends which include Tigger, also voiced by Cummings, Eeyore, voiced by Brad Garrett, and Piglet, voiced by Nick Mohammed.
Pooh enters Christopher Robin’s old door in a tree to find Christopher so that he can help Winnie find his friends. He ends up in London and finds a Christopher Robin very much unlike the one he knew. It’s obvious that Christopher has forgotten Pooh and his childhood friends, and he is actually quite rude to Winnie. Christopher doesn’t have any interest in helping Winnie find his friends. All he wants to do is to get Winnie back to the Hundred Acre Woods so that he can get back to his work assignment in London. So, he grabs his briefcase full of his work papers (referred to as Very Important Things) and they head to the Hundred Acres Woods, where Winnie and his friends fear heffalumps and woozles.
The film includes some excellent humor, including Pooh’s love of honey, and Eeyore’s downcast comments. It features some excellent quotes from Winnie (“I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been”, “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day”, and “What day is this? It’s today. Yesterday was too much day”. The film includes some animation, which were based on drawings done by E.H. Shepard for the original Winnie the Pooh books.
Christopher Robin is a film that the entire family can enjoy together. It contains some excellent messages about the importance of family and friendship, is both humorous, and also sad at times. The film is much better and ultimately more uplifting than the depressing 2017 film Goodbye Christopher Robin. See my review of that film here.

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My Review of GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN 

Goodbye Christopher Robin, rated PG 

**1/2   

Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the heart-breaking story of the relationship between Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin. The film is well directed and written, beautifully filmed and features some solid performances, particularly from the adorable Will Tilston, who plays the young Christopher.  

The film is directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn, Women in Gold), and written by Frank Cottrell Boyce (The Railway Man, Millions) and Simon Vaughan. The film was released forty years after Disney’s 1977 film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. 

The film is set in three different time periods. A.A. (Alan) Milne is portrayed by Domnhall Gleeson (Brooklyn, Star Wars, Bill Weasley in Harry Potter). Milne, referred to as Blue, is a writer, and returns from World War I with what we would call today post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. He is married to Daphne, played by Oscar nominee Margot Robbie (I, Tonya). Daphne is not portrayed as a very likeable character at all.  

In an attempt to improve their marriage, the couple has a boy in 1920, named Christopher Robin; however, they are not good parents at all. They hire Olive, a nanny played by three-time Golden Globe nominee Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire, The Girl in the Café), to look after Christopher. Olive is a Christian who teaches Christopher to pray. Christopher grows closer to Olive, who he calls Nou, than he does his own parents, as she seems the only one to truly love him.  

The second section of the film will most likely be viewer’s favorite.  

***SPOILER ALERT*** 

We see the family move to the country. A.A. is still having trouble writing. Daphne, a socialite, leaves for London, and Olive leaves to care for her mother who is ill. Christopher, who was called by his family Billy Moon and nicknamed C.R., and his father finally bond over long walks through the woods. We see how Christopher’s toys become those familiar characters (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, etc.), in Milne’s children’s stories. Christopher asks his father to write a book for him, but, when Milne publishes Winnie the Pooh in 1926, and it becomes wildly popular, Christopher’s childhood is turned upside down as he becomes a celebrity and exploited by his parents.  

The third section of the film has Alex Lawther (The Imitation Game) portraying the 18-year-old Christopher Robin. His fame has made him a target for bullying at a boarding school. He desires to serve in World War II. 

****************** 

The film was beautifully shot on location in Oxfordshire, Surrey, East Sussex, and London by cinematographer Ben Smithard (The Man Who Invented Christmas). I enjoyed the costumes in the film and the musical score provided by two-time Oscar nominee Carter Burwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Carol).  The film is about the author and inspiration for the most popular childrens’ books of all time, but  it is certainly not a film for children. It is emotional, nostalgic, touching and heart-breaking.

Themes in the film include parenting, father-son relationships, childhood, family, and fame.  

Goodbye Christopher Robin is a well-made film, but it is one that is often painful to watch.