Goodbye Christopher Robin

Reviewed
Thu. 6/14/18
Goodbye Christopher Robin
3.5833333333333
Acting
3.5
3.5/5
Morality
5
5/5
Music
3.5
3.5/5
Story
4
4/5
Visuals
2.5
2.5/5
Kernel Factor
3
3/5
You will never look at Winnie-the-Pooh the same.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
DVD or Streaming <27in
Viewing Crew:
Significant Other
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Drama
Payment Method:
Rental/Redbox
Review:

I have so many things I want to say to preface this review, but I’ll try to keep it brief. First, my wife loved this movie so much that she wanted to see it a second time, and convinced me to watch it for my first time. Second, I grew up watching Winnie-the-Pooh every day before school for about 3 years, so Christopher Robbin and his fury friends have a soft spot in my heart. Lastly, I had no clue (even with all of that Winnie-the-Pooh watching in my younger years) that Christopher Robin was actually a real person. Lastly lastly, I never saw a trailer for this movie, which is very rare for me to do. 99% of movies that I see I have already seen the trailer to inform my purchase/time commitment. So I went into “Goodbye Christopher Robin” with all sorts of expectations but no frame of visual or story reference. So let’s dive in.

Acting
Overall this cast did a fine job. There were some moments I felt like I was watching a day time soap opera - just too much. Not being British I also feel like there were moments that went over my head - most notably, as with so many 19th/20th century British movies, where did people get their wealth? Or, why was nannying a way of life if both parents were home all day? The cast played these dynamics well, but the added dysfunction of the characters made for an unstable and (probably intentionally) frustrating watch. We really only could rely on the nanny, "Olive", played by Kelly Macdonald (lead character voice in "Brave"), as our constant/hero-like character. Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie who portray "Christopher Robin's" parents, "Alan and Daphne Milne", individually play their roles wonderfully but carry absolutely no chemistry together - that's part of the story, but it's so unnerving to watch them together. Also, side note, I can't believe how many movies Domhnall has been in that I've wanted to see but never have (The Revenant, Unbroken, Calvary just to name a few). "Christopher Robin's" character as boy played by Will Tilston is a stand-out performance. From what I can tell this was this kid's first movie. Amazing! In the end I think your mind will do what the filmmakers want: empathize with "Christopher Robin", be frustrated by yet understanding of "Daphne Milne", love "Olive", and truly feel for "Alan Milne". You want everyone to win but soon realize no one is going to. The resolve to this dysfunction is a difficult thing to watch.
Morality
Let me start by saying this is not a kid’s movie. I say that because when we rented it at Redbox I was searching in the "Family" genre. Wrong. This is Drama. The film deals with PTSD, bi-polar disorder, neglect, and lots of dysfunction that would be hard themes for younger audiences to watch and/or understand. Although the movie is a tough watch, it carries one of the more interesting messages I’ve seen, one I believe to be particularly interesting for us today. That is, how much should you (parents) publicize your under-18 child for their story/talent? This might be completely missed by some who watch this film, but I would urge you that if you do watch this to really allow for the tougher themes and messages, like childhood fame, to sit with you.
Music
The Music was not overly memorable to me. There were times I knew the filmmakers wanted me to hear it because they changed the “style” of it or included lyrics, but overall it didn’t hurt nor greatly help the film.
Story
Not knowing that Christopher Robin was actually a real person I was probably the perfect candidate to watch this film. The story itself is very unique - one that probably only comes from a real life example, as it did. For me, I find it fascinating that probably every great piece of literature, music, artwork, etc took incredible sacrifice and stamina to put forth. That’s obvious, but when you actually see the sacrifice and stamina in a film, it makes that journey of oblivion to fame absolutely daunting. “Goodbye Christopher Robin” raises the kind of questions that got me to think deeper and for that I appreciated its story. I hoped for some levity as I watched but this film just isn’t that. The story moves slowly and picks some very random scenes to give us background, which is easy to poke at, but it delivers on emotion throughout.
Visuals
I understand but didn’t like the choice of how many dialogue scenes were shot. The added shakiness and handheld shots didn’t seem necessary. The actors themselves were already so “shaky” (in a good way) in their portrayals of their characters that I felt the extra camerawork to make me feel uneasy only made me more frustrated. Staying in essentially one location also made the film feel quite claustrophobic.
Kernel Factor
This certainly isn’t a feel good movie, but it makes you think. As much as you might be tempted to think, “I’ll never look at Winnie-the-Pooh the same”, which is totally true, there are a lot of relevant messages for viewers today. I can’t say I’ll be watching this again or remember much of it in the future, but the main takeaway of cherishing childhood (for your kids) will stay with me a long time.