So it is fully possible that Christopher Robin will connect better with Pooh-heads (I know that’s not a thing, just let me have this pun) than it did with me. Perhaps the film’s charm is lost on someone who didn’t grow up with these characters. But, for me, Christopher Robin feels less like a nostalgic reinterpretation of the classic characters and more like the kind of slogging, poorly written movie that I’d expect to see on Lifetime.
The film follows a now adult Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), who lives in London with his wife and daughter and works at a luggage company. His friends Winnie-the-Pooh (Jim Cummings), Eeyore (Brad Garrett) and more are waiting for him to return to the Hundred Acre Wood, but he has become too preoccupied with work to care about anything else. But when Pooh mysteriously ends up in London, they must journey to find the rest of the gang and rekindle Robin’s sense of adventure.
One of the chief problems is that the film’s interpretation of Robin is very hard to root for. The movie feels like it is trying to be like Hook, but McGregor doesn’t apply the same charm as Robin Williams. Adult Robin is unlikeable, and his complete lack of charm before he inevitably changes makes it very difficult for me to believe he is so reformed by the end of the film. The number of times he yells at Pooh about his VERY IMPORTANT IRREPLACEABLE PAPERS is exhausting.
The dialogue spoken by the human characters certainly doesn’t help. The screenplay dishes out trope after trope: missing a family vacation because of work, a character saying “where are my damn reinforcements” in the war scene, and an ending ripped straight out of Elf. Every human character is paper thin and exceedingly one dimensional. That being said, the Hundred Acre Woods characters are all as charming as ever. Cummings as Pooh is classic and Garrett’s Eeyore provided some of the only chuckle-worthy moments of the film.
And then there’s the visual style. The film is overwhelmingly grey. Occasionally, this works to the movie’s advantage at either building atmosphere or creating some pretty beautiful shots. But, for the most part, the visual style is a little too downtrodden. Combine that with some pretty poor editing and mediocre camerawork, and the film ends up feeling dreary and uninspired.
Besides the few genuinely heart-string tugging moments between Pooh and Robin at the end (carried by Cummings, might I add), the film didn’t make me feel much of anything. It was a mundane experience. The only real emotional response I ever had was annoyance at the lazy predictability of the screenplay. Christopher Robin is just a dull, uninteresting film.