Christopher Robin is, as far as I know, the only Winnie the Pooh movie in which a building explodes. The film, which is essentially Hook set in the Hundred Acre Wood, opens with young Christopher Robin enjoying a farewell party with Pooh, Tigger, and all his other friends before leaving to go off and become an adult. In a montage, he goes to boarding school, gets married, and then, uh, fights in World War II. This is never really addressed again when he’s trying to reconnect with his childhood, which seems odd.
Granted, the real Christopher Robin Milne also fought in World War II as a combat engineer, but Christopher Robin takes so many wild liberties with the actual story of Milne’s life that it feels fair to treat the movie’s Christopher Robin as a fictional character. (He was neither a middle-manager at a luggage company, nor was his daughter actually named Clare. Milne’s daughter also had cerebral palsy, unlike his fictional daughter “Madeline.”)
The film’s adult Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor) is a distant figure in his daughter’s life as he struggles to escape from the demands of work. He’s an unhappy person (his wife notes she hasn’t seen him laugh in years), and the movie wants viewers to believe that it’s because of his job, not to mention time away from Winnie the Pooh, that has made him so empty inside.
Is it possible that maybe the years spent on the front lines in World War II had something to do with that? Perhaps, but Christopher Robin, likely on account of being a Disney movie about Winnie the Pooh, doesn’t really get into the possibilities that Christopher Robin could be suffering from some sort of trauma due to his experiences in the war.
That the brief scene of Christopher Robin fighting in World War II is in Christopher Robin at all speaks to how tonally scattered the movie is. Again, this scene comes moments after a scene where young Christopher Robin enjoys a picnic and has a heartfelt goodbye with his cherished friends. Since the movie is already making up Christopher Robin’s adult life, what’s the narrative importance of going to war and never addressing it again?
The only thing that’s really been gained by Christopher Robin’s brief detour to being a war movie is that, in later scenes, when he’s having a tender moment with Pooh, Eeyore, and Piglet, you can’t help but wonder…
Did… did this Christopher Robin ever kill a guy?
Christopher Robin is now in theaters.