Goodbye, Christopher Robin, released last year, was a beautifully made story about Winnie The Pooh creator AA Milne and his strained relationship with his son Christopher Robin, for whom he wrote those stories about stuffed animals.
This new Christopher Robin, directed by Marc Forster, using the name and the character, is a twee film about how people should not let go of their inner child. A clichéd message, in a partly cute and mostly grating movie, starring Ewan McGregor as the titular character, with an animated Pooh and other characters from the Hundred Acre Wood of Milne’s imagination.
Robin works with a luggage company, and has his nose to the grind, neglecting his wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael). One weekend, he has to back out of the plan to go to the country with them and spend time to finish an unpleasant assignment. On a park bench, he runs into Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), who has wandered over to London, looking for help to find his friends.
A panicky Christopher takes Pooh back, and reunites him with the other stuffed animals — Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Tigger (Cummings), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Owl (Toby Jones), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo) and Roo (Sara Sheen) — realising in the process that he needs to value the people who love him.
The animation is expertly done, the post-War period details are polished, but the plot and treatment fall in the grey area that does not appeal either to kids or to adults. The former would be put off by the problems of the grown-up world and the latter would undoubtedly be irritated by the cartoon voices after a point. There should be a sense of joy, mischief and whimsy in the film, that is woefully lacking. Pooh with his ‘wisdom’ is just whiny and McGregor does not get any scenes to help him really emote — he is the kind of dramatic actor who does not look comfortable with silliness.