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In the canon of Disney's animated classics, there's no one as kind and patient as Winnie The Pooh. Disney's beloved adaptations of A.A. Milne's literary gems have always been a source of good-natured humor, and in the more recent incarnations, have invoked tales of the love that only a family can give. It's those aspects that were feared to be lost once the studio announced that they were doing a live action sequel to the series, but thankfully, Christopher Robin loses none of the fluff and stuff that made the silly old bear, and his friends, so damned endearing.
After growing up, as most kids do, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) has become a company man at a London luggage manufacturer. Trading in adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood for efficiency reports, he has to cancel a weekend in the country with his wife and daughter (Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael) in order to appease his demanding boss (Mark Gatiss). Christopher Robin may be under the gun, and not as young as he used to be, but there's always room for Pooh (Jim Cummings) to save the day.
If you're a dyed in the wool fan of Winnie The Pooh, you're absolutely going to love Christopher Robin, though the first act might be a big rough for you. With the theme of the titular character being a more grown and self-serious man on the offset, it leads to some rough waters between himself and his favorite childhood friend. But once director Marc Forster's film kicks into the more whimsical component of its story, thanks to a pivotal moment of awareness with McGregor's Christopher Robin, it's nothing short of absolute magic. And while there's a lot of new adventure in Christopher Robin, the rich history of the Winnie The Pooh cartoons of the past is still strong, with every callback and every song, classic and newly added, by the Sherman Brothers.
Credit must be given to Ewan McGregor, who plays both sides of his character to their fullest extent. Though, it must be said that once Christopher Robin starts to act more like his old self again, it's truly a treat to see McGregor smiling and letting loose more than he has in quite some time. Of course, it wouldn't be a Pooh movie without the tubby little cubby, and much as he has over the past couple decades in his role, Jim Cummings brings Winnie to life in beautiful, sublime fashion. Between his performance as both Pooh and Tigger, and the character designs for the entire ensemble, the world of A.A. Milne's childhood adventures is brought to life in a way that even animation could have never have dreamed.
The only real drawback to Christopher Robin's finished product is the fact that it does seem like a retread of the standard "working father has no time for his family" story we've seen done time and time again. This doesn't ruin the film by any stretch, but it's hard to look past the fact that this is a tried-and-true formula that could use some sprucing up. While it's only the gateway to the thrilling adventure with Christopher Robin and the Hundred Acre Wood gang, it's still something that's going to stick out upon initial viewing.
Christopher Robin is a warm blanket of a film that makes you feel like you're spending time with an old friend, putting a smile on your face that's hard to shake. It's surpassed only by the Paddington series in its blend of exuberant kindness and exciting adventure. This is also, quite possibly, the best family film of the summer, as parents and children alike are going to take to this film like Pooh takes to honey. It's just as sweet, and equally as easy to share with those you love.