Goodbye Christopher Robin

Critics Consensus

Goodbye Christopher Robin struggles to balance wartime tension and childlike wonder, but offers valuable insight into the darkness shadowing the creation of a classic children's tale.



Total Count: 171


Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,011
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Movie Info

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN gives a rare glimpse into the relationship between beloved children's author A. A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin, whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne, and his nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald), Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books; the enchanting tales bringing hope and comfort to England after the First World War. But with the eyes of the world on Christopher Robin, what will the cost be to the family?

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Critic Reviews for Goodbye Christopher Robin

All Critics (171) | Top Critics (34)

  • Whatever truth the film holds is in the darkness between these parents and their offspring - but even that is not quite faithful enough.

    Nov 22, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The movie's focus on the caustic effects of celebrity make this narrative set in the first half of the 20th century particularly relevant for the media-frenzied 21st.

    Nov 2, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Curtis drags the story through all the routine period motions, where everybody looks and talks and dresses like they're in a stately prestige film.

    Oct 27, 2017 | Rating: C | Full Review…
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin resonates today amid multiple wars and a celebrity culture that skews fame, life, and values. It confronts family schisms. And it reflects on the long and sometimes tortured path to healing the human psyche.

    Oct 25, 2017 | Full Review…
  • Winnie the Pooh is timeless and unforgettable. The same qualities don't apply to this tale of the real-life people and circumstances that inspired his creation.

    Oct 21, 2017 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • So yes, even kid-friendly art begins in a wound, and money tarnishes everything it touches. But maybe there's a silver lining to that little black rain cloud hovering over the honey tree?

    Oct 20, 2017 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Goodbye Christopher Robin

  • Feb 04, 2018
    It's not very often that a true story is made into a film that not too many people are familiar with. Sure, many films have elements that most viewers weren't aware of, but when popularity overshadows the truth, sometimes it can be forgotten. Goodbye Christopher Robin tells a story that I believe everyone needs to witness. Yes, it can work as a story in its own right, but what it's based on and what came of it is truly worth knowing. Films like Detroit that follows the Detroit riots or Steve Jobs that follows the invention of Apple are very much in the public eye today, so films like that (although great) can be quite predictable, which is why I found this film to stand out among the rest. Here's why I believe this movie deserves more attention that it's receiving. After the first world war, Alan (a survivor of the war) moves to a house in the woods to regain peace with his family. Suffering from post-traumatic stress and sudden outbursts, it's tough for his wife Daphne and his son Christopher to be around him at times. After using some time to calm down, a few strolls in the woods with his son would eventually blossom into the invention of Winnie the Pooh and each of the secondary characters from the story as well. We see movies and television shows all the time, but what people hardly ever do is look further into how that specific story came to be. In the hardships of the war, the character of Winnie the Pooh, along with each story that was showcased throughout each episode made quite the impact on the war heroes of that time period. It brought happiness in times that demanded it, but all people know of the character today is that a group of animals entertain kids through a television. Sure, it does the same job as it did back then, but the making of these characters meant so much more in the past and I think more people need to witness this well-made picture. Domhnall Gleeson leads this film as Alan, but Margot Robbie and newcomer Will Tilston are just as relevant to the story, with Tilston being the most notable of them all. I've always been a fan of Gleeson on-screen, but his interaction with young Tilston truly made this film loveable from start to finish. Yes, there are some powerful moments of drama here and not everything about this story was all sunshine and rainbows, but the conclusion of this movie is sure to put a smile on your face. Although subtle, I think one of the main factors in what made this film so good was its visual storytelling. Yes, the ways that this father and son came up with certain characters' names or how a specific plot was developed was nice and felt a little nostalgic, especially to someone who watched these episodes as a kid, but the way scenery would change in order to incorporate moods or how the weather would change around them to show what they're imagining instead of just showing a dream sequence was fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed nearly every aspect of this movie. At the very least, I can see people being pleasantly surprised at how much went on during the development of Winnie the Pooh. It just seems like a silly kid's show, but the family behind the story kind of blew me away. In terms of its screenplay, it felt a little formulaic, but I honestly don't have many more complaints other than that. The cinematography, direction, and performances all stood out to me in a positive way and I found myself in tears by the time the credits began to roll. This is an extremely well-made, heartfelt story worth experiencing.
    KJ P Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2018
    A very interesting story about how Winne the Pooh was created. It offers quite a lot of depth into how the characters and story were formed as a source of happiness after the first world war.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 03, 2017
    For as long as I could remember, 'Winnie the Pooh' has always been a figurement of my childhood. 'Goodbye Christopher Robin' tells us about the enchanting story of how the most beloved children's book ever written came to life from A.A. Milne's recovery from serving in WWI to the growing relationship he has with his son upon trying to write something as form of inspiration. What we can say from this story overall; is that such a creation inspired from the world of childhood imagination can bring a great certainty of happiness and light when darkness as chaos overshadows the world when war breaks out. It's also an endearing tale of how one's creation defines the life of such an individual like A.A. Milne's son, who became too much of a child celebrity, it took away from what he knew of the world, even harder when the boy continued to grow up. Nonetheless, I was fully invested from start to finish in this fine film with the entirety of the characters and the plot shedding some much needed light on how such a beloved creation became a huge happy beacon in a world that had almost forgotten it due to the tides of war. The direction and cinematography were also fine as were the gifted performers, especially Will Tilston as the young C.R. Milne (or Billy Moon as he's called). It made me laugh and sob at times though, I highly recommend it as one of 2017's most endearing and eye opening films.
    Luke E Super Reviewer
  • Nov 07, 2017
    The young author sub-genre has become an awards season cottage industry. We've seen recent stories about J.M. Barrie, Jane Austin, P.L. Travers, Beatrix Potter, Ernest Hemingway, and a whole assortment of the Beats. Even in 2017 there have been stories about a young J.D. Salinger (Rebel in the Rye), the creator of Wonder Woman (Professor Marston and the Wonder Women), and soon Charles Dickens (The Man Who Invented Christmas). We seem to relish watching the formation of brilliance, or at least watching a recognizable creative voice find their flights of inspiration. Goodbye Christopher Robin is meant to be another in the tradition of young author movies served up on a platter for season-ending awards and recognition. Goodbye Christopher Robin is so serious, clumsy, and tacky in final execution that it enters awards bait self-parody. Alan Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is coming to terms with his PTSD after his experience sin WWI and trying to re-enter the literary and theatrical world of London. He finds inspiration through the imaginative play dates with his young son, Christopher Robin a.k.a. "Billy Moon," and in time the formation of Winnie the Pooh's world. The book is met with immediate success and Alan and his wife, Daphne (Margot Robbie), are all too ready to ride the wave of fame. Christopher is raised by his kindly nanny, Olive (Kelly Macdonald). Eventually, Christopher grows to resent his parents, the public's assumption about himself, and the very name of Pooh itself, so much so that he volunteers to go to war as a means of just escaping the overbearing attention of the spotlight. The opening act of this movie is the best part, and it's all pre-Pooh. It also helps that it focuses more on Alan Milne rather than his son, who will take a far larger role later. Milne is already a slightly prickly character who doesn't exactly fit in with the British upper class. He's also trying to process his PTSD and return to some semblance of a normal life. He's also struggling artistically, and this is where the film is at its most interesting because it has the most focus. We get to really delve into the triggers and emotional state of a character in a way that feels engaging. We spend time establishing a person, a trauma, and how it impacts his relationships. It's not the most singularly compelling drama but it's still more effective than what regrettably follows. Where things start to go irreversibly downhill is the exact emergence of Pooh. While Milne is spending more time with the son he doesn't fully know how to relate to, he's also pumping his boy for ideas during their play for a children's story. We get the expected but still lazy moments of all the little signifiers in their lives that connect with future characters. Then one Pooh gets published it becomes an international best seller and the movie just zooms through plot. It goes from releasing the book to everyone in the world loving it literally in a minute of screen time. The Milne family, and especially Christopher Robin, can't go anywhere without being recognized and hounded by fans. This is also where the film makes a sharp turn and reveals Alan and Daphne Milne to be really terrible parents. As soon as success appears, they're actively exploiting their child at every opportunity, including such stunts as a radio station also listening in to father wishing his son a happy birthday over the telephone. If there's a chance they can sell more books, get extra publicity, or simply parlay their fame into something, they take it, and often Christopher Robin is left home alone with his nanny while mom and dad lap it up. Rarely have you seen childhood neglect made to appear so strangely whimsical. Even this abrupt plot turn could have worked as an interesting and unexpected portrayal of a literary family that lost the "family" sensibility once fame and fortune arrived. Unfortunately, this is not really a movie about consequences being felt because we've got to speedily move onto the next plot point in order to fulfill the formula. After Olive has her big speech about how the Milnes have been mistreating Christopher Robin, it's literally two scenes later where Alan comes to agree. Lot of internal turmoil there, huh. Christopher Robin's life gets so bad he's practically begging to go to war. Even his fate during the war is something the film doesn't leave unanswered for long. Why dwell on the consequences of decades of bad parenting when we can still careen into a feel-good ending that will attempt to poorly wipe clean the slate? Everything is resolved so rapidly and without larger incident that rarely does the story have time to register. We're never going to feel great insights into these characters if the film doesn't give us time. Who cares about hardships and betrayals if they're just going to be erased in the next scene or if some life lesson will be ham-fistedly learned, but not earned, in short succession? This is not a subtle movie by any means. The second half of Goodbye Christopher Robin is all about how the boy's life is awful and how much he dislikes the spotlight. The father comes up with the solution of sending Christopher Robin to a boys' home way out in the country. As soon as dad leaves, the boys instantly start bullying and harassing Christopher Robin, literally throwing him down flights of stairs while chanting insults. Dear reader, the next part astounded me. It is during the shot of him being pushed down the stairs that the movie uses this sequence as a transition device. By the time Christopher Robin stumbles to the bottom of the stairs he is now a teenager. It's as if he has been falling down the stairs for a hellish decade. Then there's the moment where dad sees his son off to war at the train station. As he looks back, for a brief moment it's not teenage Christopher Robin boarding that train but young child Christopher Robin. I laughed out loud at this moment. It's too earnest and too clumsy not to. The acting cannot save this movie. Gleeson (The Revenant) gets to be that kind of aloof where the actor pronounces words with great care. His acting style is a bit too removed and opaque to really feel much for his character, especially when he cedes the spotlight to his neglected and exploited son. Robbie (Suicide Squad) is just completely wasted. She might be the film's biggest villain and her disapproving stares look like they should be accompanied by cartoon steam coming out of her ears. Macdonald (HBO's Boardwalk Empire) fares the best mostly due to her genuinely appealing nature. It also doesn't help matters when it appears that our young Christopher Robin, newcomer Will Tilston, was hired for his toothy grin and dimples. This is not an especially good child performance. It's powerfully winsome but in an overly cloying manner. It was hard for me to work up much empathy for Christopher Robin because the performance kept left me cold. Goodbye Christopher Robin is a feel-good movie that made me feel like checking my watch. It's tonally off with its mixture of sentiment and indifference, zooms through important plot points rather than dwell on the impact of decisions, and looks for any opportunity to bludgeon an audience rather than deliver something genuine and subtle. If you're a major fan of Winnie the Pooh perhaps you'll get something out of it knowing its author was a terrible parent. This wasn't a movie that made me feel authentic emotions. It felt too clumsy, too mechanical, and ultimately too miscalculated. The only awards this might be contending for at the end of the year are not the kind it's going to want. Nate's Grade: C-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer

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