‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ is thought-provoking … and family-friendly

February 2nd, 2018 / By: Michael Foust / comments

‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’ is thought-provoking … and family-friendly

Alan Milne is a World War 1 veteran trying to make a living as a playwright in post-war Britain. But try as he might, this pensive husband and father is having trouble forgetting those horrible battlefield experiences.

When a balloon pops, he freezes and thinks of gunfire. When he encounters a beehive, he remembers warfare. Even snowball fights and bright lights trigger war-like emotions that make it difficult to cope.

His wife Daphne thought the birth of their first child (a son) might bring him back to reality, but nothing changed. Instead of penning plays for the London theaters, he now spends his days staring at the wall and brooding over the causes of the Great War. He never smiles. 

“You are a writer who doesn’t write,” his wife, frustrated, tells him.

Thus, needing a change of scenery and wanting to escape the big city, Alan moves his family to the countryside. There, among rolling hills and colorful forests, he is inspired to write a book about the joys of childhood. His subject will be his imaginative 8-year-old young son, Christopher Robin, who loves to daydream about friendly bears and talking animals. His son even has a name for his favorite Teddy Bear: Winnie-the-Pooh.

It’s all part of Goodbye Christopher Robin (PG), which is now out on DVD and Digital HD and tells the story of the real-life Christopher Robin, a British boy who went from obscurity to fame overnight in the 1920s and 1930s when his father’s Winnie-the-Pooh books became a hit.

It stars Domhnall Gleeson (The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi) as Alan, Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Legend of Tarzan) as Daphne, Will Tilston as the young Christopher Robin, and Kelly Macdonald (Brave, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) as their nanny, Olive.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is among the most thought-provoking, family-friendly movies I’ve seen. It’s entertaining – yes – but it also begs viewers to examine their own priorities and their own family lives. It’s like a mainstream version of the faith-based Courageous (2011), combined with the historical elements of The Man Who Invented Christmas (2016). We get to discover the origins of Winnie-the-Pooh while learning numerous life lessons along the way.    

Warning: minor spoilers!

Violence/Disturbing

Minimal. We see a brief flashback to a 1916 battlefield scene, but we don’t see anyone shot. We watch as Alan experiences several episodes of post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). We also hear Alan and others discuss the causes of World War I and the need for peace.  

Sexuality/Sensuality

Minimal. A handful of women wear slightly low-cut dresses at a dance. Alan and Daphne (fully clothed) share a brief kiss in bed. Later in the film, they kiss again.

Coarse Language

Minimal. One use of da—it.

Other Positive Elements

We see a crucifix hanging on the Milne home, and Christopher and Olive kneeling beside the bed for bedtime prayers. Later, Christopher and his father pray before a meal, and Christopher says a bedtime prayer alone. Eventually, Alan shows leadership in making a major decision. We see Olive sacrifice for her own family.

Life Lessons

Goodbye Christopher Robin gives us lessons on the joys of fatherhood (Alan) and parenting (Alan and Daphne), the innocence of childhood (Christopher), the perils of fame (several characters) and childhood stardom (Christopher), bullying (several characters), the horrors of war and PTSD (Alan).

Worldview

Where do you start? Goodbye Christopher Robin includes multiple issues worthy of a worldview discussion, but let’s examine just one: not wasting time.

When I was single, time seemed to stand still. But now that I am a father of four small children, time has hopped into the express lane. It seems like just yesterday that my oldest son was born. Today, he is nine, and before long, he’ll be out on his own. Where did the time go?

Scripture tells us that life is like a “mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). It’s like the morning fog that lifts before daybreak. Sure, that could depress us, but it instead should drive us to live life with eternity in focus – and not to waste our time. Ask this question daily: If today was your last day with your children, would you have any regrets?

The film’s lesson on childhood stardom is worthy of a post-movie discussion, too. Finally, the movie has a wonderful redemptive element that can be appreciated only by watching it.  

What I Liked

Watching the bond between Alan and his son grow. It made me want to race home and hug my children.  

What I Didn’t Like

Nothing major.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the perils of childhood fame? Is it worth it?
  2. For children: Have you seen examples of bullying? What did you do? What should you have done?
  3. For parents: What did you learn from the relationship between Alan and Christopher? Did it impact how you view your children?  
  4. How does tragedy impact relationships within a family? How did it impact the relationship between Alan and his family? What is the “cure”?
  5. Can time that was wasted – as it was with Alan and Christopher -- be made up?

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is rated PG for thematic elements, some bullying, war images and brief language.