By David DeMulle’
Winnie The Poo comes alive in Christopher Robin in a soft frightening way that brought memories of my childhood readings of the Poo series. But this story is different in that Christopher Robin, a human ambassador to the Hundred-Acre Wood, eventually gets to an age where he has to go to boarding school and leave all his stuffed companions behind. He promises he’ll never forget his friends, but life never lets you go back. In Christopher’s world reality hits – hard, first with school, then with the death of his father, then with a wife and daughter, then with a war, and now with a career at a struggling luggage company. Grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is an unhappy pencil-pusher who doesn’t have time for something as important as family, let alone his glorified imaginary friends from childhood.
But one day Pooh (Jim Cummings) finds himself in a situation he can’t handle and decides to take an unprecedented journey to London to seek out help from Christopher Robin, who himself is over his head dealing with a budget crisis. He’s none too thrilled to see the silly old bear, but resolves to return him to the entrance to the Hundred-Acre Wood in the country.
When he gets there, he’s greeted by other old friends like Tigger (Cummings again), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Owl (Toby Jones), and my personal favorite, Eeyore (Brad Garrett, in what I cannot believe is his first turn at the famously morose character). After confirming that adult Christopher is not, in fact, a dreaded Heffalump, the critters resolve to help him with his adult problem, even if it means stepping outside their comfort zone.
Downstairs at the El Capitan Theater where the premiere was showing, there were display cases of the actual animals that were used in creating the show. Nostalgia hit and I was wondering why Poo was so worn and forlorn. It took me a minute, but the the reality hit, here was a “grown old” Poo, worn out by being loved, and age.
The El Capitan was the ideal site for this film, nostalgic, worn with dignity and a beacon on Hollywood Blvd. As part of the franchise, the Ghiradelli Chocolate Store had all sorts of Poo artifacts and of course chocolate of every flavor and form.