There’s a moment in Christopher Robin in which the older-but-definitely-not-wiser titular character and his best furry friend, Winnie the Pooh step into a dreary, muted, and unfamiliar version of the Hundred Acre Wood in search of their lost friends. Seeing Christopher Robin revisit a space he once inhabited, with his pure innocence and imagination- in a forgotten, disheveled state, was emotionally resonant. The once playful child, now cynical businessman, Robin suggests to Pooh to begin searching for his friends in the most efficient way possible by walking straight forward.
If you know Pooh, you’ll know this silly old bear is the opposite of efficient. While Robin’s approach takes him to point A and point B with little adventure, Pooh prefers to improvise, detour, and see where it takes him. Often, he finds success in unusual places. Marc Foster’s direction has great intentions, but its overall execution is sadly comparable to Robin’s method of exploration. This is where the film falls short. Christopher Robin is a sweet and sometimes interesting journey, but it squanders its ideas and chooses to be passable.
For the record, I am behind a lot of the creative conceptual choices here. I loved the idea of an older Robin having to go on a metaphorical reclamation of his own youth, the muted color palette, the stuffed animal translations of these characters, and for the first two-thirds of the film, I was invested in where it was going. The overall high points of the film begin (and end) with the Hundred Acre Wood, as adult Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) trudges down the foggy forest, getting lost in his own innocence to find Pooh’s friends. The more in touch Robin becomes with his younger self, the more awake the Wood becomes, it’s vibrant and resonant visual storytelling.