If you don't want Winnie the Pooh's innocence ruined by publicity stunts, Oedipal anguish and World War I flashbacks, you should avoid this biopic of writer A.A. Milne. Otherwise, Goodbye Christopher Robin is a bland but fascinating creation myth.
In the film's first act, Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is passionate about a decidedly not-childish project—a pacifist manifesto inspired by the trauma he experienced from servicing in the War to End All Wars. Yet, he ends up crafting a book inspired by the stuffed-animal pals of his son Christopher Robin (played at different ages by Will Tilston and Alex Lawther). Of course, that included a tiger, a piglet and a very cuddly bear.
Eventually, the all-consuming popularity of Winnie the Pooh strains the bond between father and son. But director Simon Curtis (Woman in Gold) doesn't fully capture Christopher Robin's terror at being shoved into an invasive and unforgiving spotlight.
Luckily, the movie holds your gaze because Milne is a brittle and unforgettable figure: a tormented veteran who, like many of us when we revisit the sweet and blissful adventures of Pooh, longs to slip into youthful dreams.
CRITIC'S RATING: 2/4 stars.
Goodbye Christopher Robin is rated PG and opens Friday, Oct. 27. Buy tickets here.