This whole trend of Disney live-action remakes is a terrible idea, not only in execution, but in principle.
The stories that basically define the canon of Western animation gain nothing from not being animated. Someone at Disney should have pointed that out. But now that the bad decision has already been made and we can’t prevent the company from making more and more pointless remakes until they exhaust their entire catalog (wait for the live-action Moana in 2036!), we may as well examine the possible merits of their next productions.
As for the upcoming Christopher Robin, I have just watched the first teaser trailer, and I don’t see any justification for this movie existing.
(Side note: I was alarmed to see Mark Gatiss is acting in this movie. My first thought was, did he write it? Wikipedia reassures me he had no hand in it, and at least that’s good news. Gatiss is a passable actor, but an atrocious scriptwriter, singlehandedly responsible for the worst episodes of NewWho. The last thing such an obviously bad movie idea needed was having such a consistently bad writer behind it.)
In summary, Christopher Robin is now an adult. As such, he has to deal with all the unexciting duties of mundane life. This means he has forgotten the enchantment that he used to get from imagination, and he needs a little reminder from his fantastical childhood in order to regain a sense of wonder in his life.
Does this sound familiar? It has to, because Hook followed the exact same formula in 1991, an Alice in Wonderland remake/sequel that nobody was asking for did the same in 2010, and even Harry Potter became an overstressed office worker in 2016. And all of them were less than stellar at it. Seriously, what’s with this urge to turn heroic children into neurotic adults who spend the rest of their lives knowing they’ll never outshine their magical past?
Just from reading the synopsis of any of those previous examples you can easily predict what the plot of Christopher Robin will be. The Wikipedia entry for the film says our hero has “lost all sense of imagination.” So obviously Pooh will show up, Christopher will return to the Hundred Acre Wood, all the other stuffed animals will marvel at how much he’s aged, they’ll spend half the movie singing their dialogues, and at the end Christopher will resume his mundane life having learned the Valuable Lesson on the Value of the Valuable Lesson. There’s no reason to expect this movie will do the trick any better than Hook, and Hook was terrible.
Adults don’t need to be reminded of the importance of imagination. All of our favorite cultural productions continue to be made by adults. Just within the past year, we’ve had Mary and the Witch’s Flower, Coco, Colossal, Your Name, Baby Driver, The Discovery, and The Shape of Water. And the ongoing explosion of excellent television is too prolific to even attempt to summarize here. Granted, we continue to have our share of unimaginative adults (looking at you, Emoji Movie), but it’s not like there’s any serious shortage. So, besides selling tickets and obligatory redesigned Pooh bears, what’s the point of making Christopher Robin?
I don’t doubt that Ewan McGregor’s charm can make a supremely silly musical marginally bearable (you just have to watch Moulin Rouge), but comparisons to Robin Williams in Hook are going to be inevitable and unfair. McGregor deserves a better movie than an overdone story that will be immediately forgotten at the theater’s exit door.