Obviously chasing the Paddington market, Disney has revived Winnie the Pooh and friends in an incredibly creepy live action for a new story about the importance of paid vacation. The movie is called Christopher Robin and it occurs in an alternate universe where Christopher Robin did not resent Winnie the Pooh for destroying his childhood and kind of ruining his life. It’s basically a fanfic set in the world of A.A. Milne’s stories in which Christopher grows up and then has to be reminded as an adult of the importance of family, friends, and paid time off. It’s impossible to actually dislike this movie because its intentions are too good, but there are a number of weird ass decisions that make the whole thing a borderline nightmare.
The movie starts with young Christopher Robin making his last trip to the Hundred Acre Wood in order to say goodbye to Winnie the Pooh and all his friends before he ships off to boarding school. In theory, it’s a cute idea as Pooh and the others set up a going-away party, but the reality is that the tone of this opening sequence is SO morose it starts to feel rather dark. Like at one point it legit feels as though Christopher is about to throw Pooh & Company onto a pyre and set them ablaze like some kind of imaginary friend Viking funeral.
We then skip ahead to Pooh waking up in a gloomy Hundred Acre Wood plagued by fog—implied to be Christopher Robin’s doing as he forgets them—and all the other inhabitants are gone. No Piglet, no Eeyore, no Kanga and Roo, no Owl and no Rabbit, and definitely no Tigger who is a screaming nightmare in live action. The character design of Pooh et al is really good—Owl and Rabbit being “real” animals are done with very good CGI, but the others all have the look of vintage toys. One neat touch is that they have limited movement, little more than an actual stuffed animal would move.
It’s subtle but effective, except for Tigger, aforementioned demon, who gets to move more since he bounces in a deeply upsetting way. The combination of an old toy—already one of the top five creepiest things in the world—and no teeth is TERRIFYING. Tigger’s toothless head flaps about like a bad dream, ensuring at least one kid in the audience turns Goth. Thankfully, Tigger is not that prominently featured, as most of the movie is Pooh looking for Christopher so they can go back to the Hundred Acre Wood and search for the others. It’s a bad time for Christopher, though, as the company he works for is failing and he has to work through the weekend to try and save it. He is essentially neglecting his family and Pooh arrives to teach him a valuable lesson about family and never growing up and also the importance of paid vacation.
Christopher Robin is a very well-meaning movie that is also quite strange. And not strange in the way of Paddington, which occurs in a whimsically exaggerated retro-modern version of London that is clearly fantasy. Christopher Robin is just STRANGE, occurring in period-accurate 1940s London, except for the walking, talking stuffed animals. It’s a sweet movie about never losing touch with your inner child, and with just a little bit of editing, Christopher Robin is a straight up horror movie.
Attached - Ewan McGregor on Late Night with Seth Meyers last night.