Winnie the Pooh is one of those classic characters that pretty much everyone has a history with –you had a stuffed toy as a child, your mom used to read you the bedtime stories, you had this one night shirt with Pooh in a sleeping cap that you always wore to sleepovers in elementary school.
I could go on here, but you get the point.
Pooh is a thing and most of us fall somewhere between loves-him-madly and neutral on the Pooh loving spectrum.
Because honestly, have you ever in life met someone who just didn’t like Winnie the Pooh? Is there a person out there who seriously thinks of the kindest bear in the land and says, “Nah, always hated that dude.”?
No, there isn’t and, no, you haven’t.
Because people like that are not people, they’re monsters. Or, even worse, they’re Woozles.
End of story.
This weekend will be the first for Disney’s latest live action reboot, Christopher Robin, to bring everyone’s favorite “silly old bear” to the big screen.
I’ve already seen it twice –once at a press screening, once with the people who actually made it thanks to a unique opportunity I was given to join Disney and the film’s cast at the world premiere in Hollywood.
Here’s what’s true: I loved it most the second time.
As with all movies you have a history with, there are expectations you anticipate will be met. You hype it up in your mind that it’s going to be this thing and then, when it isn’t –because, quite frankly, it rarely ever is –you’re all, well, hmmm, that wasn’t what I expected at all.
Sometimes it’s a bad thing and the film doesn’t click with you in any way leaving you confused and disappointed that they even bothered to remake Fantastic Four in the first place, and happy that your boy Michael B. Jordan got to redeem himself in a hero flick thanks to Black Panther.
Other times, it’s Christopher Robin and you get to be charmed and delighted in ways you didn’t even anticipate.
When I rolled into the theater to screen the movie at Disney Studios, I expected to be sitting down to watch this grand, emotional tear jerker of a film.
In fact, I PACKED TISSUES IN MY PURSE!
I am never that prepared for anything and I’m usually the girl wiping her snot on the sleeve of her kid’s hoodie trying to pretend some kid flick didn’t just break me.
via GIPHY (Me watching Finding Nemo, The Good Dinosaur, and pretty much every Disney movie in the last 15 years)
But, I stayed dry because, as far as I’m concerned, Christopher Robin just isn’t that type of flick.
It is instead a charmingly sweet, heartwarming film about family and friendship. It has nostalgia. It has humor. And, with its classic story line and familiar characters (even Christopher Robin, a character we don’t really know as an adult is familiar in that he is all of us) the movie is the perfectly simplistic and relatable type of movie you can go to with your kids and your mom and feel good about it.
The movie hit theaters August 3, 2018.
8 Things You Need to Know About Disney’s Christopher Robin
Christopher Robin is basically all of us.
After leaving The Hundred Acre Wood behind to head to boarding school, Christopher Robin grows up, marries a girl (Evelyn), gets her pregnant, and then heads off to fight in World War II. He comes back when daughter, Madeline, is about three. He gets a job as a supervisor at a luggage company and settles into life as a husband and father.
As hard times hit in post-war London, Christopher Robin’s life seems to spiral out of control. He pulls away from his family to focus on helping the luggage company stay afloat. He continuously disappoints his wife and daughter as he puts his career ahead of them time and time again.
And yet, you find yourself pulling for him.
As sad is it is to watch Evelyn and Madeline struggle with the hurt of Christopher’s neglect, he actually seems like a pretty decent dude. He’s working so hard because he is loyal to his employees and wants to help them keep their jobs. He feels bad about missing things with his family, but his boss is an annoying loser who puts undue pressure on him.
He’s stressed, and he’s tired, but he’s relatable.
Because all of us have faced situations where finding balance between work and home becomes a struggle.
What we don’t all have is a Pooh Bear to pull us back from the dark side.
Winnie the Pooh is perfection.
And so are Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and Roo (okay, I literally just realized that Kanga and her baby Roo spell KangaRoo –holy crap, Christopher Milne, you’re a genius!). They are exactly the characters you want them to be: Piglet is neurotic as ever, Tigger is impetuously creating chaos while having fun, Rabbit remains owner of the bossiest boots in the woods, Kanga is the loving mom to everyone including her perpetual baby, Roo, Eeyore can’t buy a ray of light, and Owl is old and wise and eager to argue the finer points of every point with Rabbit, as expected. And then there’s Winnie the Pooh who remains the ever-committed BFF always there to encourage, support, and unwittingly inspire his besties to be their best selves.
Pooh remains “a bear of very little brain”, a quality that is both hazardous and endearing as he unwittingly drops knowledge on Christopher Robin in exactly the way he needs in order to turn himself around.
But Eeyore will steal the show.
Voiced by Brad Garrett, Eeyore is as glum and pessimistic as any one can possibly be, and yet, he brings you joy! It’s pretty hilarious to hear how he turns even the most basic, random event into one specifically designed to ruin him and life, and his one liners are truly memorable.
Evelyn and Madeline are pretty great too.
Probably I’m biased here because I kinda developed a girl crush on Hayley Atwell when I interviewed her on press day, but I loved the quiet power she shows in the film as a wife and mother. Her character, Evelyn, is by no means a pushover waiting for her husband to drop her a few moments of his attention. She’s vocal in letting him know that he disappoints her and their child with his actions, and she isn’t afraid to let him know when she is done with his nonsense.
And Madeline, played by Bronte Carmichael, is a likeable kid who never comes across as bratty or demanding.
It’s a beautiful film.
There were so many scenes, particularly in The Hundred Acre Wood, that just gave me hearty eyes.
You’ll feel nostalgic.
If you were a Winnie the Pooh fan at all as a child you will enjoy a few glimpses at our old friends.
They kinda sorta sing a couple of songs you’ll remember, and there are countless quotes from the old stories and shows you’re bound to recognize.
It’s predictable, yet satisfying.
I’ve never been someone who really appreciates unpredictability in films. I like the good guys to win (thanks for nothing Avengers Infinity War, still not talking to you), I like the endings to be sewn up and happy, and I don’t want anything outlandish happening to the main characters.
When you really break it down, director, Marc Forster, could’ve taken this story in so many directions: they could’ve shown Pooh and his friends as figments of Christopher Robin’s imagination or different parts of a split personality, they could’ve made Christopher way more unhappy and unstable (I mean the dude just came back from a major world war, a little PTSD wouldn’t be out of the question) –there are countless storylines to pursue within Winnie the Pooh.
Personally, I love that the movie proceeds down a happy path toward a happy ending for all of the beautiful characters who have been a part of so many people’s happy childhoods.
You’ll be reminded of a few things along the way.
Like how crazy genius Winnie the Pooh actually is.
Pooh is the kind of dude who goes through life with his heart leading the way. He doesn’t operate with an agenda and he doesn’t overthink things. In fact, he doesn’t think much at all, he just does. It may be cause for calamity in some instances, but it also makes him endearing, and loyal, and kind, and exactly the thing you want and need in a friend.
And his outlook on life is so refreshing. Play first, work later, eat all the honey! None of us can live like that always, but Pooh reminds you that you need to live like that sometimes.
Join me on the red carpet for the Christopher Robin premier: Christopher Robin Red Carpet Premier
Check out my interview with Ewan McGregor and see how he came to be Christopher Robin: Ewan McGregor Interview