So it’s come to this. After remaking “The Jungle Book,” “Cinderella,” and “Beauty and the Beast,” Disney has finally gone too far. The studio has given us the gritty “Winnie the Pooh” movie that nobody ever asked for.
It’s hard to know what exactly to expect from this movie. On the one hand, footage from the trailer could easily have slipped into the “Mary Poppins” sequel teaser that we got earlier this week without anybody noticing.
This is more of that gritty, dark, somber tone that Disney seems so keen on at the moment, despite the fact that it makes the majority of audiences roll their eyes and contemplate taking a trip to the bathroom when one of these trailers plays in theaters.
Then, there’s Winnie the Pooh, looking for all the world like an off-brand Ted. It’s at this moment in the trailer that the audience is supposed to twig that, yes, this is the same basic premise as those two Seth MacFarlane movies with Mark Wahlberg.
A grown-up man reconnects with his childhood imaginary best friend, in the form of a cute stuffed bear. Hilarity ensues.
That said, there are two fundamental differences between “Christopher Robin” and “Ted.”
Firstly, based on the trailer alone, it’s clear that Disney has really stacked this new movie full of actors who are very, very far above the pay grade of any Seth MacFarlane property.
Any movie that puts Hayley Atwell front and center deserves the benefit of the doubt, and Ewan McGregor is going to be the titular Christopher Robin, which feels like something of a coup for Disney — that’s some solid casting.
IMDb reveals just how far the, ahem, rabbit hole goes (reference intended). Jim Cummings is Edward T. Bear himself, of course, but joining him are a bunch of actors you’ve seen in far more grown-up movies.
Chris O’Dowd is Tigger. Peter Capaldi is Rabbit. Toby Jones is Owl. This is a seriously impressive voice cast, who will no doubt be very different to the traditional interpretation of the “Winnie the Pooh” mythos (if a child’s imagination can be called a mythos).
There is, though, a second trick that “Christopher Robin” will pull that will differentiate the movie from “Ted,” or any other imaginary friend story.
Based on this teaser alone, it’s clear to see that the movie is going for the gut punch. The story looks set to pick up right where “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” the classic Disney Pooh Bear story, left off, give or take a few decades.
Just as a reminder, this is probably the closest Disney has ever come to giving a movie a truly heartbreakingly sad ending.
The final image of the movie is Winnie the Pooh, waiting on a hillside for the rest of eternity, in the hope that Christopher Robin will return to the Hundred Acre Wood. But Christopher can’t come back; he’s gone off to school, and his childhood has ended. He’s grown up, and Pooh and all his friends have been abandoned forever.
It’s like the Bing Bong death scene of “Inside Out,” but the movie legitimately ends on this sentiment. Sure, future “Pooh” stories from Disney have retconned this ending, but based on the teaser for “Christopher Robin,” it looks like we’re going to see a world where Pooh has been all but forgotten by his best friend in the whole world, and that stings.
So, sure, “Christopher Robin” looks like a version of “Ted” that’s playing things way too dark.
You’re going to cry like a baby when this hits theaters, though. “Toy Story 3” ain’t got nothin’ on this!