There are times in life when someone you admire, respect, maybe even love does something so reprehensible that you question why you even commit time to their existence. They might not have been perfect to begin with but they at least showed up where it mattered – now you’re not sure if you can ever trust them again.
So it is with me and Disney, after watching Christopher Robin.
I have seen bad films before, I have seen films where the cast and crew had no interest in making art, where the director clearly just wanted to torture some people for a few weeks of filming. None have made me feel like a bit of my soul had died, until this movie came along.
Christopher Robin is a cynical, charmless, nasty piece of work. It does for Winnie-the-Pooh what racist, sexist morons think The Last Jedi did to Star Wars. I saw it in a full showing with people of all ages, and nobody reacted well to it. It’s ghastly.
How did this happen? For starters, we need to look at Paddington. The other live-action/CGI bear cinematic experience has two movies in its belt and each time been an absolute joy. They’re written with humour, invention and more than a loving eye towards the source material, all of which can be seen in every frame of both Paddington movies.
Clearly somebody at Disney saw these movies too, and decided that the time was ripe to give A.A. Milne’s beloved bear and friends the same treatment. This time though, they missed all the difficult bits like writing a story, and characters, and directing, and literally everything that made Paddington 1 and 2 work.
Christopher Robin is the story of an efficiency manager for a luggage company who has to work a weekend to decide what cutbacks need to be made in order for the company to survive. Also there are CGI stuffed toys that look like rejects from a Conjuring sequel, and everything they say can almost certainly find its source in one of those awful Facebook caption pictures (most likely alongside a picture of Eeyore or whatever). And Tigger does the Tigger song.
The human characters aren’t much better: Ewan McGregor is at his absolute worst in this utterly thankless role, and Hayley Atwell is only allowed to be the Nagging Wife. Every other actor mugs and gurns their way through their roles, for which I’m sure they were handsomely paid, and then the ghost of Walt Disney appears on screen and kills the human personification of Art with a sword made of money. Or something. I may have fallen asleep.
Watching this movie was like having a wealthy white man hold my mouth open and pour a whole jar of honey down my throat. I’m sure that the intention was to have me embrace the sweetness and for me to be grateful for the experience, instead it made me gag on the prolonged saccharine torture and now I wish I was dead. I would rather pay money for a Heffalump to crush me to death than watch this again.