The nostalgia factor on this one is high. I, like many other children, grew up on Winnie the Pooh. I watched the full-length movies, the cartoons, and I’m pretty sure I had a stuffed Pooh as a toy. Strangely, though, I wasn’t too enthused with this new film at first sight, as it seemed a little much from my point of view. CGI, plush-looking versions of these iconic characters? Christopher Robin all grown up and boring as heck? How imaginative. But after seeing it, I must say that the concept works better than it should. Not so much from a messaging perspective, because the whole “stop being such an uptight workaholic and have fun for once” moral is stock-in-trade Disney. It’s more due to the sheer melancholy of having a once-happy childhood, in the form of your favourite toy, return and ask you point blank whether you have killed it off for good. A childhood once filled with adventures and imaginary friends and being in touch with your innocence. There’s something unbearably sad about leaving it all behind, and the sadness increases when those imaginary friends pay you a visit and wonder where you’ve been. As though they’ve been waiting for your return since the day you left.
It’s a little more complex in this case, because the plushies do, apparently, have a sentience beyond Christopher Robin’s imagination. This point does weaken some of the emotional impact, as the implication is that they go beyond Robin’s character, but it’s not too big of a deal. The moments between Robin and Pooh are what really count, and they’re done with a lot of grace. Jim Cummings is a national treasure, if we have to be honest. And I think he has outdone himself this time, highlighting Pooh’s beautiful soul using the most specific, endearing vocal inflections. My heart is warming again just thinking about it. Had the film been comprised entirely of Pooh and Christopher Robin in dialogue, I would’ve melted into a blobby puddle of honey.