“Christopher Robin” — a sentimental serving of bittersweet nostalgia

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“Christopher Robin” — a sentimental serving of bittersweet nostalgia

Ewan McGregor in “Christopher Robin”

Ewan McGregor in “Christopher Robin”

Courtesy of IMDb

Ewan McGregor in “Christopher Robin”

Courtesy of IMDb

Courtesy of IMDb

Ewan McGregor in “Christopher Robin”

Trevor Tyle, Life Editor

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In a time where sequels, spinoffs and reboots have never been more prominent, no company has ridden the wave of the cinematic nostalgic trend quite like Disney. From “Cinderella” to “Star Wars,” the company has revived almost every beloved childhood tale imaginable, so it was only a matter of time before they returned to the Hundred Acre Wood. Unsurprisingly, with “Christopher Robin,” Disney has managed to maintain the magic of Winnie the Pooh and company while creating what may be their most sentimental effort in years.

Directed by Marc Forster, the film relies on familiar characters such as Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), Tigger (also Cummings), Piglet (Nick Mohammed) and Eeyore (Brad Garrett) to tell an entirely new story. The titular character, played by Ewan McGregor, has grown up and has learned, like many of us, that adulting is hard.

Years after leaving the Hundred Acre Wood for boarding school and eventually enlisting in the British Army during World War II, Christopher now works for a luggage company and has a wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter, Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). Most of his time is now occupied by his job, often at the expense of his family, and as times become harder, Christopher grows more and more distant, peaking with his absence from a family trip in favor of work.

This, of course, is when fate intervenes. Pooh, unable to find his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood, seeks out Christopher and ends up in London, where they are reunited. After reluctantly being dragged into Pooh’s dilemma, Christopher finds himself back in the place that defined not only his childhood, but many of ours as well.

Fronted by the faultless McGregor, “Christopher Robin” boasts a positively superb cast, exceeded only by the voice actors and remarkable CGI work behind Christopher’s furry friends, who have never felt or looked so real. They are the heart and soul of this film—though the screentime they are robbed of would suggest otherwise. Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sara Sheen) and Owl (Toby Jones) feel particularly slighted in this film and, unfortunately, serve almost no purpose to the overall narrative.

In fact, the film as a whole doesn’t spend nearly enough time reacquainting us with the folks of the Hundred Acre Wood, leaving much to be desired by the time the end credits roll. But as its title implies, the focus is on Christopher Robin—or at least, that’s the goal. Though McGregor holds his own quite well, Pooh steals every scene he’s in with his childlike charm and irresistible innocence. Every word out of the beloved bear’s mouth is sweeter than the honey dripping from his paws, and will surely make you either laugh or cry.

For a film that so desperately aims to escape the harsh realities of adulthood, “Christopher Robin” spends a tremendous amount of time trapped inside them. But in spite of the Disney name attached to it, this film is far from a kids’ movie. Rather, it’s a poignant reflection on the innocence of childhood, aimed toward the adults that grew up with Winnie the Pooh far more than it is their children.

Though it’s far from perfect, “Christopher Robin” is escapism at its best. Truthfully, I was one of many misty-eyed theatergoers to leave the theater perfectly content with what I watched. In spite of its occasional thematic depth, there’s a pure simplicity to this film that makes it that much more delightful.

Besides, as one wise, silly old bear once said, “Sometimes, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

Rating: 4/5 stars