Jordan Peele's 'Us' is a Creepy Tale That Sadly Mirrors Our Reality

On May 25, 1986, approximately 6.5 million Americans stood hand in hand forming a human chain that stretched from New York to California for an event called Hands Across America. It was a fundraiser project from USA for Africa (the same people who produced the “We Are the World” single the year before) in hopes of raising $100 million to fight hunger and homelessness. The hope was that everyone who participated would donate $10 for the cause. Families stood and sang together for 15 minutes. And then it was over.

I had trouble remembering if Hands Across America really happened or if it was a gimmick for the film when the original commercial for the event flashed on the big screen during the opening of Us. I only vaguely remember the event, which might have to do more with the fact that I have lived in Washington State my whole life and we weren’t involved in the project. I doubt that I’m the only one and I suspect that was also some of Jordan Peele’s reasoning as well whe…

Fantastic ‘Christopher Robin’ is a Winnie-the-Pooh Movie for Grownups

Movie Review of "Christopher Robin"
Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) and Winnie the Pooh (self) (Walt Disney Pictures)

My first memories of Winnie-the-Pooh were watching the TV specials of Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day and Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger Too in the late 60’s or early 70’s which were presented by Sears. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I actually read the original stories. Almost all of us been touched by the bear stuffed with fluff, but Disney’s new live action film focuses on the one person who knew Pooh best: Christopher Robin.

The new Disney film shouldn’t be confused with last fall’s Goodbye Christopher Robin which starred Domhnall Gleesaon and Margo Robbie. That film was about the real Christopher Robin and his father, A.A. Milne, who wrote the original stories. The new film, which stars Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell, is about the fictional Christopher Robin, who of course was a character in his father’s stories. Both movies are excellent with similar messages for adults, but they are both very different too.

Taking a cue from the earlier animated tales, this story is told from the pages of a storybook and begins with a young Christopher Robin (Orton O’Brien) leaving the Hundred Acre Wood to attend boarding school. Pooh and friends have put together a going away party for the boy and he promises them that he’ll never forget them.

Whoosh! The pages of the book turn and new chapters of Robin’s life are briefly shown from boarding school, meeting his future wife, going to war and working at the Winlsow Luggage Company. With each event that passes, Christopher becomes less playful and more serious.

Movie Review of "Christopher Robin"
Piglet, Pooh, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga, Tigger and Eeyore. (Disney)
The pages stop at a unique time in his life. Christopher (McGregor) is married to Evelyn (Atwell) and their daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) is studying hard to get into the same boarding school as her father. He is overworked and rarely has time for his family, but promises to take them to his old childhood home for a weekend away to play. Unfortunately, his boss, Giles Winslow (Mark Gatiss) tells him that he needs to figure out a way to cut company expenses by twenty percent which would likely include firing many of his hardworking crew members. Christopher tells his family that he can’t go with them on the trip and Evelyn says that she’s not surprised. Mother and daughter leave him behind to do his work.

Meanwhile, back at the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh is having a strange day not able to find any of his friends and wishes that Christopher Robin were there to help him find them. It’s not long before Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) shows up in Christopher Robin’s adult neighborhood. Christopher thinks that he’s cracked interacting with a walking, talking stuffed animal of his past, but takes Pooh home before anyone else sees him. The reunion is a happy one at first, but it soon becomes apparent that Christopher won’t be able to get any work done as long as Winnie is around, so together they take a train to his old stomping grounds to bring Pooh back to look for Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Tigger (also Cummings), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Owl (Toby Jones), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo) and Roo (Sara Sheen).

Movie Review of "Christopher Robin"
Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) and Friends
This all sounds juvenile and while each scene is shown with lots of humor and wit, profound messages are shared that will go way above kids’ heads. Yes, this is a family movie, but the first half will probably move too slowly for little ones, but it’s this first half that speaks loud and clear to the adults in the room. Strong messages about the importance of a well-connected family, a solid marriage and taking time out for recreation are shared. At one point, Christopher even snaps at Pooh further showing how much the man has changed since his boyhood.

The second half of the film focuses a lot more on the stuffed animals running around in the big city with crazy antics and chase scenes that the kids will love. These childhood friends we’ve all enjoyed have come to life and they are just as fun and friendly as we remember them. Pooh still gets up doing his morning exercises to his “Up, Down, Touch the Ground” song and Tigger still explains “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” in song. Eeyore is gloomy as ever (and perhaps even more sarcastic then we remember) and Piglet is still scared of everything. They’re a fun bunch.

Movie Review of "Christopher Robin"
Bronte Carmichael, Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell (Disney)
This movie is simple as it is beautiful. It is smartly written with similar dry humor that Milne shared in his own stories, but it also shares a lot of heart that you expect. Ewan McGregor is in almost every scene and doesn’t hold back in any of them. From fighting the Heffalumps to getting stuck in a tree. His scene hugging Pooh when he needs the bear the most is priceless. As always, Atwell is almost perfect and charming as ever and don’t be surprised if we see more of Bronte Carmichael in the near future.

Though not a musical, the film does feature short versions of a few songs from the old films and includes three new songs written by Richard M. Sherman. (Sherman and his late brother wrote many Disney tunes over the years). For super fans, stick around for the credits for an extra scene that features Sherman playing the piano at the beach. It’s a great touch and nice way to show honor to this Disney legend.

Christopher Robin is rated PG for some reason, but there is nothing there that is inappropriate or scary for kids. Just keep feeding them popcorn through the slow parts.

Related: How Creative Director Brigham Taylor Helped Bring Winnie-the-Pooh to Life


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