The Denver Post

“Goodbye Christophe­r Robin” sadly bumbles a bit

- By Jane Horwitz David Appleby, Twentieth Century Fox by Ann Thwaite’s 1990 biography of the author and the memoirs of Christophe­r Milne, the script, while well researched, is stuffed with

★★¼5 Rated PG. 101 minutes.

In the 1920s, A.A. Milne gave a world reeling from World War I gentle books inspired by his only child and the boy’s stuffed-animal friends. The British author rendered them in verse and prose, brimming with humor and nestled among perfect illustrati­ons by E.H. Shepard.

Such books as “When We Were Very Young” and “Winnie-the-Pooh” were great gifts, but their success took a toll, as the wellintent­ioned, but flawed film “Goodbye Christophe­r Robin” aims to show. Christophe­r Robin Milne — called by his nickname, “Moon,” in the film — had a painful public childhood. His father felt guilt about that, and he saw his literary ambitions limited by “Pooh.” more shifts in time and tone than it can gracefully handle. Though “Goodbye Christophe­r Robin” has moments of delight and even profundity, and looksPBS pretty, too often it stumbles.

From the trivial to the serious – ranging from an awkward close-up of smudged makeup to inconsiste­ncies of character – director Simon Curtis doesn’t pull the thing together. Milne’s wife, Daphne (Margot Robbie), for example, is alternatel­y portrayed as flighty, distant and affectiona­te, with each iteration seemingly unrelated to the last.

Domhnall Gleeson struggles, too, playing the writer as an introverte­d, shellshock­ed veteran whose moods shift abruptInsp­ired ly. As Moon, Will Tilston seems alternatel­y stilted and hesitant. Stephen Campbell Moore and Kelly Macdonald fare better, delivering understate­d performanc­es as Milne’s friend Shepard and the boy’s nanny, respective­ly.

Yet there are pleasures. Father and son have a charming time bonding. One memorable sequence shows Milne and Shepard wandering in the Sussex countrysid­e with little Moon and his bear in tow. While the boy plays, the men imagine life in the Hundred Acre Wood. Then these fellow veterans gaze out on the valley and try not to let it remind them of battlefiel­ds past.

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