Directed by Marc Forster
Starring Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings
Running time 2 hours
MPAA rating: PG for some action
By Sandy DeVito
I think I liked Christopher Robin, but I honestly don’t know. The reason I don’t know is because the combined press/public screener I went to had approximately 100 kids streaming in and out of the theater the entire time. I am NOT exaggerating. Combined press/public screeners are common, specifically if the screener is taking place a few days before the film’s wide release, and most of the ones I go to at this point are combination screeners (because I don’t write for Entertainment Weekly or whatever), but this was a very special, unique hell. Most of these types of screeners are fine, and people are quiet and obey the movie manners. But as far as I can recall, this is the first truly “kid-friendly” screener I’ve gone to; usually I avoid them like the plague, but I really wanted to see this Winnie the Pooh movie with Ewan McGregor, because I grew up with Pooh and I love Ewan with all my heart and soul. Alas. It was Not A Good Idea.
They continued to let these large groups of children in for the duration of the film. This would be fine if it was two or three people; this was groups of thirty kids at a time, all of them talking, walking through the theater half-way through the film. You can imagine: it’s hard to concentrate on what is happening in the film when this sort of thing is going on. This is why, at normal showings of films on normal days with normal audiences, other people around you might get visibly and vocally agitated when you behave this way in the middle of a film. Movie manners for this Christopher Robin screening I attended were nowhere to be seen. And you might say, Sandy, these were little kids, little kids don’t know any better. And I would say to you, it’s never too early to teach kids how to behave in public spaces, especially in a movie theater. Our world is a huge, steaming mess right now, and the theater is, and should be, a quiet, comforting place where you can visit another world for awhile. When you refuse to be polite to the people around you during a film in a theater, you are robbing them of that experience. And that’s what the fucking movie-going experience is. If you didn’t want to watch the movie, you shouldn’t be in the theater. And that goes for kids, too.
The things I really liked about this film, as far as I can recall: Ewan McGregor, who is one of the most charming actors to ever grace the silver screen, the wonderful and strange CGI effects for Pooh and the gang (I wanted to hug Piglet terribly, especially), the costumes by Jenny Beavan (Oscar-winning costume designer for Mad Max: Fury Road, thanks!), the incredibly beautiful Hundred Acre Wood, which I never wanted to leave. The story itself seemed to be relatively straightforward; innocence and fun are never out of style, and being with the people you love is more important than any conventional notion of success. The socialist ideas Christopher Robin (Robin is his last name in this narrative, but I always thought Christopher Robin was his first and middle names? How have I gone my whole life thinking that?) totes at the end are certainly things I can get on board with, though since Disney only just raised their workers’ minimum wage to $15 an hour, I can’t say I really bought it in light of their business practices so far. Socialism isn’t words, it’s actions, Disney & Co. I’ll believe your sentiments when I see them regularly in action.
I’d like to watch it again sometime when there aren’t (what seemed like) a thousand screaming, yelling, laughing, talking, popcorn-bag-crunching children literally surrounding me. I have a feeling I will like it very much. Until that happens, I can’t be entirely certain.
On a personal note: I always think my partner looked like Milne’s drawings of Christopher Robin when he was a little kid, and his middle name is Christopher. For some reason, I think of Christopher Robin as innately tied to the person I love the most in this world, which makes watching anything Pooh-related very emotional for me in a unique way these days.