|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.
|Piglet, Pooh, Rabbit, Roo, Kanga, Tigger and Eeyore. (Disney)|
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).
|Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) and Friends|
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.
|Bronte Carmichael, Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell (Disney)|
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