Roger Thomas Review: ‘Christopher Robin’: For whom was this film made?

Published 6:20 pm Thursday, August 16, 2018

I have been a fan of Winnie-the-Pooh since my early childhood. When I was 6 I had a Pooh lamp in my bedroom that gave me comfort with its light as I was drifting off each evening.

Roger Thomas

I do not still have that lamp; it was probably sold at a garage sale. However, I did find the A. A. Milne version of the book which my mother read to me often. The original book was copyrighted in 1926, and the version I have is a reprinted edition from 1961. That was two years before I was born. So Pooh and I have lived a life together.

Now there is a film update of the stories of the residents of the Hundred Acre Woods.

So I have a serious question, “For whom was this film made?”

In the opening minutes, the film is exactly what I expected. All the characters are sharing a meal on a picnic table and they are having a grand time. But Christopher Robin has to leave.

That opening scene is magical. And as the film went forward after the picnic ends, I found myself wishing that the whole film was set in the same time as the first 10 minutes. But alas, the film flashes forward and the film’s tone changes.

But before I explain that, allow me to offer some praises for the film.

First, the special effects are perfect. The animated characters all look like tattered stuffed toys, except when they are alive. The different voices for the variety of characters are all perfect in how they say things and what conversations they have.

My personal favorite character from this film is Eeyore; he has all the best lines. As a child, I was a Tigger fan, but I have matured. And, of course, Pooh has the most screen time, and he deserves the most screen time.

One other note about the characters: Gopher does not appear in this film, unless I missed him. The animated shorts that Disney did when I was a child often had Gopher as a supporting player. I missed him here.

The settings, both in the Hundred Acre Woods and in London, are also a height of the film.

The set designers are to be commended.

So there are several elements that appeal in this new version of an almost 100-year-old-tale.

But all is not perfect.

I went to an early screening of this film, and there were many children in the theatre. One thing I noticed was that many of the children were restless. They talked loud a lot, and it was not for praise of the film.

I am not surprised. The filmmakers decided to make a movie about a grown-up Christopher Robin who has all the dilemmas of adults. He has to give attention to his wife and daughter.

He has to please his boss or he might lose his job. He needs to come up with a new advertisement for luggage.

When scenes about the life of adults appeared on the screen, the children in the theatre got more restless, and I could sympathize.

I wanted to hear what Eeyore was going to say next. I wanted to see the animals and the adult Christopher Robin play as they did at the beginning of the film when Christopher Robin is 12 or so.

In fact, I want Disney to make that film: the one where Christopher Robin is still 10 or 12 and all the animals go on an expedition. I think I would like that more. And I know those children in the theatre where I saw the film would like it more, too.

The first “Christopher Robin” film is behind now for the Disney Studio. There will probably be a second film because I am guessing this one will make money. So may the next film have less adult drama, and more creature adventures.

One final thought, the film moves at a brisk pace of 104 mintues. Maybe the second film can slow down for a few “Pooh minutes of unexpected wisdom.”

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.