Goodbye Christopher Robin nostalgically hikes through the Hundred-Acre Woods at a pedestrian pace. A. A. Milne is widely regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. His imaginative books involving Winnie-the-Pooh are often vital pieces of literature in many childhoods (including mine). But, as with many fictitious creations, we as readers often wonder how an individual could conceive such fantastical adventures. For Milne, it was a journey that had a surprising amount of melancholy, and director Curtis fully embellishes his misguided intentions to portray various aspects of his life in this dramatic biopic. In doing so, he has crafted a somewhat bloated drama that felt both overly melodramatic and thematically confused. After surviving World War I, Milne and his wife give birth to their son who harnesses a vivid imagination that acts as a catalyst for Milne's writing.
Curtis tackles so much of Milne's life and his timeless creation. His suffering of PTSD which acts as a hindrance for his writing ability. His wife's immediate need for success and empowerment. The difficult bond with his son as he struggles to connect with him. However, the prominent theme within the second half that prevails over the rest, is the idea of exploitation. Milne's literary creation being a window into his son's imagination, enabling him to be accessible to the world. During a time of national mourning and healing, Christopher Robin was there to lift everyone's spirits again. A timely release that ensured international success, but at the cost of Milne's relationship with his son. This inevitable exploitation manifested into resentment as he grew up. Milne unknowingly sacrificed his son's love for the betterment of his country, and there is an underlying sense of profound patriotism within that.
Unfortunately though, Curtis still attempts to balance the remaining aspects and relationships but is unable to do so effectively. Due to the PG rating and limited runtime, these numerous plot points had little to no development and lacked the emotional power that Curtis desired. Ultimately a shame considering how perfect Gleeson was as Milne. Robbie was fine, although succumbs to the cliché prestigious British accent that is all too common in period dramas. The storytelling felt occasionally heavy-handed, introducing Christopher's teddy bears far too quickly and coincidentally. Again, stemming down from the limited runtime issue.
Having said that, the film is enjoyable. There were several moments, particularly when Milne is exploring the woods with his son, that brought a smile to my face. And that's exactly what this drama does, it makes you reach for the inner-child within you. It may lack focus and emotional power, but excels when relishing in the childish warmth that Winnie-the-Pooh was perfect at evoking.