“What to do, what to do, what to do.”
Indeed. Disney’s next target in their live-action takeover of their classic animated properties is one I was just not prepared for. Winnie the Pooh is a childhood dream tied to its cartoon roots. How can Tigger and Eeyore possibly survive beyond the boundaries of cel animation? Even the more recent 3D renderings had my feathers ruffled. So, no. No, no, no, no. I forbid it.
Then, this afternoon, the teaser trailer for Christopher Robin slapped me across the face.
That voice. Jim Cummings following in the footsteps (or vocal chords) of Sterling H0lloway. Winnie the Pooh, popping up behind a park bench, stepping right out of my childhood to say hello to my horrible adult self. I don’t deserve such warmth. None of us do. But deserve has nothing to do with it. Apparently, I need Pooh’s love back in my life as much as poor Christopher. Even at just over a minute, this trailer left me a weepy mess.
Ewan McGregor is Christopher Robin, all grown up and miserable. Stomping away, 9 to 5, he’s a desk jockey who can’t seem to make the job work for his family. As the dreary streets of London surround him, and his boss orders the execution of co-workers, Christopher must abandon his family for the weekend so he can calculate the worth of his subordinates. This is not the bliss he dreamed of from the Seven Acre Wood. It’s a clock-punching nightmare.
Marc Foster’s reinvention of Christopher feels a lot like Steven Spielberg’s take on Peter Pan in Hook. As our hero drifts into adulthood, he loses touch with the joy of his youth, and that lack of personal happiness begins to poison his relationship with his family. Hayley Atwell as his wife, Evelyn, does not have much to do here in the first trailer, but hopefully her role in the actual film will amount to more than dog-piling on the melancholy.
How much human interaction Christopher experiences in the film will be interesting to discover as more trailers come down the pike. Part of me is hoping that the pain-filled man-child learns his lesson by disappearing completely into the land of imagination. Ewan McGregor in full Big Fish mode.
The official synopsis promises the return of his imaginary friends:
In the heartwarming ‘Christopher Robin,’ the young boy who embarked on countless adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his band of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into our world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.
The cast list includes Chris O’Dowd as Tigger, Brad Garrett as Eeyore, Toby Jones as Owl, Peter Capaldi as Rabbit, Sophie Okonedo as Kanga, and Nick Mohammed as Piglet. My emotions can barely stand Winnie the Pooh’s guest appearance here, and I’m still not sure how I’ll react to Tigger bouncing down the pathway. Whoever dares join me in the theater for that screening better prepare themselves for plenty of much-needed man tears.