Grown up and working endlessly, Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is visited by Winnie The Pooh (voice of Jim Cummings) to help him reconnect both his fun-loving nature, and his wife (Hayley Atwell) and daughter (Bronte Carmichael).
For a large portion of 'Christopher Robin', there really is a sense that so much of it is truly flying over the heads of a younger audience whilst parents meanwhile are treated to a decidedly judgemental view of work-life balance - all of it meted out by Winnie the Pooh's frequently cryptic lines of dialogue, who it must be said, doesn't look terribly healthy. In fact, there's so much of 'Christopher Robin' that speaks to adult angst than childlike wonder that'll have you wondering who this movie is for.
The movie opens with the happy childhood of Christopher Robin before he sets off for boarding school, enjoying his last afternoon tea with Tigger, Pooh, and all the citizens of Hundred Acre Wood who have gathered to wish him well. From there, we see Robin become a man, head off to fight in World War II, start a family, return home from the war, find a job and brings us right up to where Robin is now - a working stiff for a luggage company headed by a delightfully snivelling Mark Gatiss, forgetting how to have fun and enjoy doing nothing. If any of this sounds familiar like, say, Steven Spielberg's 'Hook' or literally dozens of children's movies about adults, then that's because it essentially is just that.
Ewan McGregor, for all his willingness to give himself over to the role, doesn't quite there in terms of making a believable attempt at someone who's worked the fun out of his life. Instead, he comes off more like a stiff business suit with a desperately contrived English accent than anything else, and even when he ventures into the Hundred Acre Wood and he begins to loosen up, it's still so brittle that it's kind of off-putting. Meanwhile, the live-action Winnie the Pooh lumbers around the screen and has none of the playfulness you'd expect. While this is intentional as Pooh serves as a manifestation of Robin's own youthfulness and whimsical nature, you get the sense that there was a better way of doing it than what ended up on screen.
Indeed, there's so much of 'Christopher Robin' that could have been done and made better. Marc Forster, for example, felt like the wrong choice. While his credentials and work on something like 'Finding Neverland' may have served him up to a point, Forster doesn't seem able to grasp the themes here with any kind of verve. Simply put, for a movie that's supposed to be about not taking yourself seriously, it takes itself far too seriously and does it in such a joyless manner that you're left wondering who this is all for at the end of the day. While it does have some gorgeous cinematography and Jon Brion's soundtrack is intriguing, there's not enough to sustain it beyond the general premise.