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No fewer than 10 minutes into Christopher Robin, the 2018 Disney film starring Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell, my eyes had started to water. (No, you’re crying.)
I don’t even know why I was surprised – it was pretty clear from the outset, a flashback to Christopher Robin’s childhood spent in the Hundred Acre Wood with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and the crew, that this was going to be a tearjerker.
Christopher Robin is really rather wonderful
As movie tropes go, Marc Foster’s 2018 contribution to the Winnie the Pooh stable isn’t entirely original; a grown man finds he has to return to his childhood in order to rediscover what really matters in life. In that sense, it had echoes of Hook, another of my firm favourite films (and an excellent table quiz question: what film stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Hoskins and Dame Maggie Smith? No one ever guesses).
That being said, this latest contribution to the genre (men rediscovering childhood?) is utterly gorgeous. It’s heartbreakingly adorable, thanks in no small part to the fact that Pooh has rediscovered his own history, and is no longer Disney’s sunshine yellow cuddly bear. This Pooh is a much-loved childhood toy, battered and slightly weather-worn, and eerily stoic (but adorable with it).
The film would be nothing, of course, without Ewan McGregor’s utterly convincing Christopher Robin (all grown up and constantly worried about work). He portrays his role, as efficiency manager in a post-World War II London luggage company, with an impressive earnestness, while also – later – managing to recapture his youth with aplomb and convincing enthusiasm.
It’s not all bears and Tiggers, mind you
There is a larger theme at play in Christopher Robin that will be lost on children, while playing on the mind of adults – that of the pressures placed on men. As a child, Christopher, upon the death of his father, is told he must be “the man of the house”, right at the same time he is shipped off to boarding school; later, he is enlisted to fight in the second World War – when he returns, it is to a wife he no longer knows and a three-year-old daughter he has never met. Then, he finds himself a working man, tasked with reducing overheads, ideally by letting the least indispensable of his staff go.
This leads nicely on to one of the most heartbreaking moments in the film – when they meet again, Winnie the Pooh asks Christopher: “Did you let me go, too?”
It’s a beautiful film – one that will enchant and entertain children while working its magic on adults alike. It’s a reminder that doing nothing is okay, because “sometimes doing nothing leads to the best somethings” and that there’s more to life than acting the part.
Plus, did I mention it’s incredibly adorable?! Go see it. You won’t regret it.