A Bear of Big Heart teaches the meaning of happiness: A movie review of Christopher Robin

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photo credit: pixabay.com

Claire Coker, Staff Writer

Christopher Robin, released in 2018, directed by Marc Forster, tells the story of an adult Christopher Robin who has lost touch with his sense of imagination and ultimately, the joy of life. It cost $70 million to make and grossed $197.7 million USD. The goal of the film was to show the importance of reevaluating one’s priorities so as to not miss out on the most fulfilling part of life: one’s happiness.

Christopher Robin’s (Ewan McGregor) definition of happiness has been warped by the business-oriented streets of London. He exhibits workaholic behavior on the belief dreams cannot be achieved without financial stability; he chooses not to travel with his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael) to the cottage where he grew up to instead, find a solution to Winslow Luggage’s falling sales. While his family is away, he receives a surprising visit from his childhood best friend, Winnie-the-Pooh (Jim Cummings), who enlists his help in finding his companions and some of A. A. Milne’s other best-selling characters from the Hundred Acre Wood — Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Piglet (Nick Mohammad), Tigger (Jim Cummings), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Owl (Toby Jones), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), and Roo (Sara Sheen). Along the way, with the help of his pals, Christopher Robin rediscovers what is important to him.

Despite the characters coming from Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928), the plot is different from the tales Milne originally told, following his service in WWI, to connect with his son, Christopher Robin, the basis of the deuteragonist. It focuses more on Christopher’s later life and relationships than the adventures he had with the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood as a child making him the protagonist of the movie. Having a human as the center of the plot makes the story more relatable to the rest of us humans. Not to say Christopher’s fuzzy friends aren’t relatable, in fact, they appeal to children who are more familiar with seeing animated characters on TV. It’s a bridge between animated and “people” movies targeted towards family audiences but pleasant for anyone looking for a comforting hour and 43 minutes.

The film itself has many effects aside from the lovable stuffed animals that contribute to its charm. One of the most prominent in E. H. Shepard’s illustrations and seen in the film adaptation: the Hundred Acre Wood. The soft light throughout the forest captures the simplistic nature and colors of a child’s home away from home, and the subtle background music accentuates the playfulness Christopher Robin felt growing up. In addition, better known for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars trilogy, McGregor’s spirited acting brought the characters to life on screen, so even the audience could feel like kids at heart.

I wouldn’t consider Christopher Robin to be the most action-packed or to have an unexpected ending, but I was entertained and content with the results. While slow at times, the story was straightforward and easy for a wide age range to follow. Winnie-the-Pooh and the other inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood being in the stories I read as a child, I appreciated how the characters’ original juvenile personalities stayed intact. When Pooh explores his long-lost friend’s new home tracking a path of honey footprints along the floor and eventually, getting stuck on a rug, Christopher Robin quickly cleans up and helps him, similar to when he was a child always saving the animals from Heffalumps, Woozles, and other imminent danger. A classic example of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin’s companionable and fitting relationship. I also had some lighthearted laughs while watching the verbal and unspoken interactions between characters. Particularly, when Christopher Robin is dragging Pooh around London and in general, the bystander’s reactions to the talking stuffed animals. Overall, I believe the film succeeded in its message to portray the importance of finding true happiness in a pleasant, kid-friendly manner.