A live-action Winnie the Pooh with a teddy bear like Pooh is as close to perfection as one could think of in terms of translating this animated medium to reality – that right there is the hardest aspect already achieved with this adaptation. If only this concept was used to greater effectiveness, we may have a masterstroke on our hands, but alas, Christopher Robin is just… fine.
The film follows Christopher Robin as an overworked family man who is revisited by his childhood friends to help him discover some of life’s most simple joys.
This film endeavors to be as poignant as possible using foundations of nostalgia and sentimentality from its source material. Ewan McGregor puts on a fine performance, enough to allow you to feel the pressure his character faces. This film is designed towards children and families which places the film in a position where it can’t use mature content to convey the themes in the film. Winnie the Pooh and his friends are handled well despite the outdated philosophy that Pooh carries with him. The simplicity of Pooh and his friends is handled well as it creates an interesting dynamic between them and the overworked stressed Christopher Robin.
The film contains many messages which are pretty apparent and aren’t quite delivered in a way that is going to resonate with audiences. What this film does really well is capturing the Pooh we remember from the early days, and the sweet charm the simple character contains. The film is easily accessible and enjoyable for the most part but it misses the emotional gut-punch that it’s aiming for.
One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the visual effects; it’s not used a huge deal but it looks very authentic and blends well into the real-world environments. While the furry CGI characters do not have expressive faces, the film manages to capture the innocence of a child’s imagination. The production design is one of the weaker aspects of the film as the set locations were poorly chosen as the world doesn’t feel genuine to the Hundred Acre Wood people grew up on. The score falls flat as it doesn’t hit any note that resonates with the audience.
Overall the film manages to create an effective introduction to Winnie the Pooh for kids and has something for anyone to get from it. Unfortunately, the film is overly ambitious and overly dull in its execution which holds it back from being great in its storytelling. Despite delicate animation that allows emotions to flow through Pooh and his friends, it struggles to let the themes and ideas flow through the character’s philosophical self.