Christopher Robin film review: Disney’s live-action Winnie the Pooh tale is as sweet as honey
A.A. Milne’s characters are brought vividly to life in this tale of a grown-up Christopher Robin, played by Ewan McGregor, who gets to reflect on a happy childhood long forgotten when Winnie the Pooh turns up in London
Winnie the Pooh arrives for his second movie inside a year. The earlier film, Goodbye Christopher Robin , was about his creation by author A.A. Milne and the impact it had on his eponymous son. It was serious and sombre, and not really aimed at children.
This film is quite the opposite: heartfelt, charming and very, very funny. Plugging into the same fuzzy nostalgia as the Paddington movies, this is a film for kids big and small.
Directed by Marc Forster, who previously explored the life of Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland, Christopher Robin is about a grown-up version of the titular character.
Played by Ewan McGregor, he’s no longer the boy who had tea with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet and the other animals in the Hundred Acre Wood. Rather he’s an overworked middle manager in a London luggage company who has lost his belief in imagination.
Under pressure to cut costs at his faltering company, Christopher barely has any time for his wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), or daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). But when Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) arrives in London after his friends disappear, McGregor’s harried character is forced to reflect on a time when life was simpler and the summers were full of play and pleasure.
As seamless as the visual effects are, those raised on Disney’s Pooh cartoons or even the illustrations in the A.A. Milne books may find the CGI animals a little odd-looking at first. But the voices are so warm – Brad Garrett is particularly brilliant as the ever-so-sad donkey Eeyore – you’re soon oblivious to this.
Scripted by a trio of writers, including Spotlight ’s Tom McCarthy, the screenplay has a remarkably deft touch, with Milne’s characters vividly brought alive. At the centre, McGregor judges his performance just right, while support from comic geniuses Mark Gatiss, Matt Berry and Simon Farnaby (moonlighting from Paddington) help keep the smiles coming. This movie is as sweet as a honeypot.
Christopher Robin opens on August 2
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