The new Christopher Robin movie is a little too Eeyore

by James Robins / 15 September, 2018
RelatedArticlesModule - Christopher Robin movie

A tale of Christopher Robin’s midlife crisis risks turning into a 90-minute guilt trip for adults.

More than 20 years ago, Toy Story pondered what happened when you left your childhood playthings alone for a day: they had a rare old time. But what happens when you leave them alone for good? Christopher Robin, a sort of sequel to AA Milne’s famous Winnie-the-Pooh books, not to be confused with biographical drama Goodbye Christopher Robin of late last year, opens with this very question. And the results are rather distressing.

Taking its cue from Milne’s 1928 story The House at Pooh Corner, it begins with young Christopher (Orton O’Brien) and his pals sharing a farewell feast in the Hundred Acre Wood. He is about to leave for school, and later, World War II. In his absence, a gloomy fog descends over his toy friends: Tigger loses his bounce, Piglet grows more cowardly, Eeyore goes from glum to outright depressive and poor Pooh wanders aimlessly, all hunny gone, pining for his old friend in a tone (provided by longtime Pooh vocalist Jim Cummings) that can only be described as deeply pained.

We all know there’s nothing more pitiful than an abandoned teddy bear, but the first act of Christopher Robin feels like taking a beloved pet to the vet one last time.

The moroseness doesn’t stop with Pooh and the other toys; Christopher himself grows up (played by Ewan McGregor) to become a desk-bound “efficiency manager” at a luggage company, of all things. His wife, Evelyn (Hayley Atwell), is left to stew at home, while their daughter Madeleine (Bronte Carmichael) is threatened with banishment to boarding school.

It’s set in a real-world, suitably nostalgic mid-century London. Milne’s adored characters are digitally rendered with their fluffy fur faded and frayed. Their grubby state only adds to the sombre tone. And this is supposed to be a family film?

Director Marc Forster has taken a children’s story and added a degree of maturity seen before in Finding Neverland, about Peter Pan author JM Barrie. But here, the maturity becomes a slog of neglect and despair. Young viewers have to wait a long while before any fun kicks in and, by the end, adults may feel they’ve been subjected to a 90-minute guilt trip.

Remember that manky penguin toy you now keep at the back of the closet? Or the buzzy bee boxed up in the garage? You’d best go home right now and give them a big hug or else you’ll be left to ponder the decades of torment they’ve been subjected to.

Goodbye Christopher Robin had its share of darkness, too. It didn’t shy away from Christopher’s rejection of his father’s creations or their troubled relationship. However, it was a delicate and charming film, unlike this dastardly Woozle of a movie, which trudges along in Christopher’s grown-up footprints but takes us nowhere new.

Video: Walt Disney Studios



This article was first published in the September 22, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.


March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the age of the machine?
102434 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the…

by Jenny Nicholls

Complacently relying on algorithms can lead us over a cliff – literally, in the case of car navigation systems.

Read more
IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computing
102458 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computin…

by Peter Griffin

The Q System One, as IBM calls it, doesn’t look like any conventional computer and it certainly doesn’t act like one.

Read more
James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth gap
102456 2019-02-15 14:54:45Z Politics

James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth…

by RNZ

The week before a major tax report is released, Green Party co-leader James Shaw has again challenged his government partners to back the tax.

Read more
Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma Chand
102448 2019-02-15 10:28:12Z Crime

Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma…

by Anneke Smith

Arishma Chand was just 24 when she was murdered.

Read more
Top wine picks from Central Otago
102233 2019-02-15 00:00:00Z Wine

Top wine picks from Central Otago

by Michael Cooper

Tucked into small corners, Central Otago vineyards offer nuggets worth digging for. Wine critic Michael Coopers offers his top picks.

Read more
Ivanka and her tower of crumbs
102404 2019-02-14 10:33:12Z Arts

Ivanka and her tower of crumbs

by Preminda Jacob

For two hours each evening, an Ivanka Trump lookalike has been vacuuming a hot pink carpet at the Flashpoint Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Read more
Youth mental health is in crisis and NZ is failing to keep up
102393 2019-02-14 09:52:16Z Social issues

Youth mental health is in crisis and NZ is failing…

by The Listener

The introduction of a free youth mental-health pilot for Porirua, and later the wider region, is welcome news, but it's far too little, far too late.

Read more
Guyon Espiner: Year of delivery begins in defensive crouch
102387 2019-02-14 09:21:07Z Politics

Guyon Espiner: Year of delivery begins in defensiv…

by Guyon Espiner

For a government promising 'a year of delivery' it has begun in something of a defensive crouch.

Read more