This live-action reboot shit is getting out of control. Yes. Just days ago, I was pleased to share the news that Disney was giving Mulan another go with a live-action adventure. But then they had to go and announce Alex Ross Perry’s live-action Winnie The Pooh. My initial reaction:
I have feelings about the new live-action Pooh. So I made this GIF. pic.twitter.com/3bQAvygjHb— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) April 2, 2015
I don’t share Viv’s hopes that a cool cast (even Tilda-level cool) would save this movie. I want this movie to die in utero. Why? Because it sounds fucking terrible on every level. Let me step you through.
First off: live-action Winnie The Pooh. When a live-action reboot of The Secret of NIMH was announced, I ran you all through some of the examples of cartoons turned CGI monstrosities, from Yogi Bear to The Smurfs. The translation is often uncanny valley creepy, making us struggle to remember how we every found these critters cute to begin with.
Then there’s the plot. Of course it can’t just be Pooh and his friends having adorable adventures, like overstaying one’s welcome by getting stuck in a wall or a honey heist that involves going undercover as a little black rain cloud. You know what we need? A grown-up Christopher Robin returning to the Hundred Acre Wood. Everyone will love that. It’s not like bringing an adult into this dynamic will fuck up its magic or sense of wonder. It’s not like the real life Christopher Robin super resented Winnie the Pooh and his father A.A. Milne for exploiting his childhood. Oh wait. He did? He totally did.
Perhaps the script could include this real-life quote from one of Christopher Robin’s bitter memoirs,
“It seemed to me almost that my father had got where he was by climbing on my infant shoulders, that he had filched from me my good name and left me nothing but empty fame.”
Now maybe you’re thinking, it’s Disney. They’re not going to make this a dark interpretation of Pooh. Okay. Remember that the movies that kicked off Disney’s live-action reboot craze included a mentally destroyed hatter who celebrates victory by spinning his head Exorcist-style, and the rape parable for kids, Maleficent. Disney doesn’t always manage a pitch-perfect blend of kid-friendly and sophisticated.
But above all else, the thing that has me groaning like Rabbit over this proposed reboot is its writer and possible director, Alex Perry Ross. Most of you have probably never heard of indie auteur Ross. (Lucky you.) Deadline calls Ross “cutting-edge,” but as someone who’s seen his Sundance selected Listen Up Philip, allow me to offer an alternate opinion. Here’s an excerpt from my review:
“Listen Up Philip plays like Alex Ross Perry is the belligerent bastard child of Wes Anderson and Woody Allen…But between the slapdash and choking cinematography, the oppressive narration, and the hideous characters, I didn’t find anything fun or funny in this so-called ‘comedy.’”
Putting the pieces together, I can imagine a grown-up and jaded Christopher Robin tramping into the Hundred Acre Wood—perhaps mourning the death of his and Pooh’s dad A.A. Milne? I see him settling under a familiar tree to sulk, and rediscovering a tender bear with a big heart and little brain. Maybe he rediscovers his childhood wonder. But I don’t want to see that. I want Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood to never have to be subjected to “edgy.” Theirs is a formula that is timeless and needs no retooling. Especially from the likes of Ross.
Disney can have their rebooted Cinderella, Beauty in the Beast, Mulan, Jungle Book, Dumbo, and Pete’s Dragon. Just leave Pooh and the gang out of it.
Kristy Puchko would be more hopeful if Greta Gerwig was Disney’s “edgy” pick. God, she hates that word.