‘Christopher Robin’ takes us back to a time of fewer worries

Matt Withers, Arts Editor

It’s hard to pin down the exact joy that nostalgia brings us. For me it’s a joy that takes me back to before I ever had to worry about school, keeping up with social pressure, and the million other things that can cause stress in a college student’s life.

Like a breath of fresh air, Disney’s “Christopher Robin” managed to take me a back to a time when the only things I had to worry about where which of my toys I was going to play with that day.

Now if you somehow were able to avoid the advertisements for this film or just have never heard of the Hundred Acre Woods, allow me to explain.

 “Christopher Robin” takes place in a secret world, where a boy can escape his boring everyday surroundings and play with his best friends in the world. His best friends just happen to be a talking stuffed bear who loves “hunny” named Winnie the Pooh. As well as the easily startled Piglet, the ever-melancholy Eeyore, and the always excitable and over confident Tigger.

“Christopher Robin” opens with the titular character, played by Ewan McGregor, saying good bye to his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood’s. He must go away to boarding school, because his father thinks he shouldn’t waste his time on more creative outlets like art and get a head start in business.  The tone of the film is quickly established when we go from the bright and colorful Hundred Acre Woods, and go to the foggy and dreary atmosphere of Europe in the 1930’s.  The way that director Mark Forster uses color and overhead shots to put an oppressing feeling in the guts of the audience is spectacular. We, like Robin long for the days of the Hundred Acre Woods, especially because that’s where Pooh is (the one we’re really waiting to see)

We even get flashes of Christopher’s life as he grows, from boarding school, college, finding love, and even serving in World War II. The realization that Christopher served in WW2 came as a shock to me, who was not expecting something so dark for a film like this, and the trauma that he endured during war is a driving factor for the rest of the film.

When Robin returns home from war to his wife and daughter that he has yet to meet, he is clearly changed and broken by the horrors of his experiences. While he may have survived, the Christopher his wife and family knew was gone.  He gets a job that forces him to be away from his family and is forced to work harder for a boss who doesn’t care about him.

You may see where this is going. Pooh shows up while Chris’s family is out of town and together they reconnect and make Christopher realize that happiness and family is the key to everything.

 The plot of Christopher Robin is not the reason to see this film. It’s extremely predictable, I felt like I could predict every plot point before I even walked into the theater. No, the real reason, I was enthralled with the film was the performances. 

Ewan McGregor gives an outstanding performance and the lead, he conveys a weight and a damaged character. Where a lesser actor would come across and just a jerk, McGregor delivers a character who has lost everything and needs to build himself back up instead of feeling sorry for himself.

Hayley Atwell, does a fine job as his wife, Evelyn. I’d be lying if I said that I could remember her name but that’s more to do with the lack luster story her character had been given. Atwell pulls the most out of the script that she can, and she makes it seem effortless.

The real star of the show is the main plush bear himself, Winnie the Pooh. Jim Cumming voices Pooh in this movie and he does such a stellar job I was in disbelief. Every line that he spoke had my heart melting, or breaking, when I wasn’t busy laughing. If nothing else gets carried over from this film I hope it’s the Jim as the voice of Pooh.

In the end, “Christopher Robin” is by no means a fantastic movie. The plot is cookie cutter, some of the jokes fall flat, and overall has a lot of forgettable moments.

It’s a film that relies heavily on nostalgia, to the point where if you didn’t grow up with the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Woods, I would suggest giving this one a pass.

But if you did grow up with Pooh and friends, “Christopher Robin” ends up being the feel-good nostalgia trip needed to get back into the school year.