Disney Christopher Robin: reviving imagination and family


This past weekend, My wife and I decided to go on a date and of course we chose to go to see the new Disney Christopher Robin movie. I mean, who doesn’t want to see Christopher Robin reunite with the silly old bear Winnie the Pooh. We had both grown up watching the cartoons and had high hopes for this movie. From the trailer, we both knew that this would be a deviation from the traditional movies; taking a more serious approach to bring the gang from the Hundred Acre Woods into the real world. I knew that going into the movie that it would be a tug on the heartstrings, but what came about was a lot more than I anticipated. It came down to more of an emotional roller coaster. 

Christopher Robin is based on the characters from A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard. The movie was written by Alex Ross Perry, Allison Schroeder, Tom McCarthy and was directed by Marc Forster who also directed Finding Neverland. All of the writers have had success in the past with emotion stirring movies. And this was no exception. This was a well-written story in which the premise is straightforward; the conflict that we all go through when we grow up and responsibility replaces imagination. A little more intense than your typical Disney film. 

How it starts

Everybody knows the many adventures that Christopher Robin had with Winnie Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood gang. But now we get to see a little bit of backstory into Christopher Robin as he transitions over the course of his life ( Although brief synopsis at the start of the movie). From his cherished playtime with Winnie the Pooh, to him being shipped off to boarding school and then shipped off to war. We see the innocence of childhood removed and the all to know and harsh realities of manhood played out. The movie starts out a little slow at points but overall does well to build the characters and backstory; providing a relatable conflict.

Christopher Robin places us in post-war London in amidst melancholy scenery which enhances the story telling. This almost reiterates the heavy nature of the film. From that point forward, the story draws the viewer in. The interactions with Christopher Robin show us how much he has changed and almost disconnected from others; all with trying to look out for others. And with that struggle, Pooh eventually setting out to reunite with his old friend, later on reuniting with the rest of our friends in the Hundred Acre woods. 

 

Although this is a children’s movie, it is heavily directed to adults. With how society has increased the pressure on adults to provide for their families, and inevitably made family priority #2; Christopher Robin provides a mirror like view into the impact that this has on family life and the forcing of children to lose their imagination and adhere to social norms. This is a continued focus throughout the movie. the writers balance out the stressors of parenthood and loss of imagination in adulthood without bogging the movie down with details.

 

Connecting with the past

Don’t get me wrong this movie does have some humor with lots of one-liners, usually with Eeyore. The dialogue from the characters keeps in line with what we would expect from them and does not deviate from our childhood memories of the old gang. Everyone makes an appearance during the film, including:  Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings), Tigger (Jim Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Owl (Toby Jones), Roo (Sara Sheen), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo) and Rabbit (Peter Capaldi); even the dreaded woozles and heffalumps. The voice actors all do justice to the characters and provide a nostalgic experience, that is reminiscent of the older movies.  

My thoughts

I know for me, Disney Christopher Robin really struck home. Trying to balance working 40-50+ hours a week and still be able to spend time with my family is something that I always struggle with; this is something that is always sitting in the back of my mind. I feel like this is something that many also struggle with. Christopher Robin brings this to the forefront. Compared to other movies, this one seems to have more of a universal feel, that I think will resonate with a lot of people. I highly recommend this movie, both because it is enjoyable but also because it will make you think about how you balancing work and family, as well as how we nurture our children’s imagination. The timing couldn’t be better to remind us all what is important: family, imagination and a little hope is what we need.

Doing nothing often leads to the very best kind of something” – Winnie the Pooh

 

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