OK, so my wife was interested in seeing Christopher Robin, so we did. It’s mostly harmless, a silly children’s movie, that mainly suffered because it was predictable and didn’t have much of a sense of humor over a patently absurd situation.
But it got me wondering about teddy bear movies. There’s a surprising number of them for what is actually an extremely limited genre. There’s this one, and two Paddington movies, and the bro-dude version, Ted. Why? And when you think about it, their plots are painfully similar.
There is a family. The male figure is a bumbling jerk who doesn’t appreciate the importance of love and family (Ewan McGregor, or Hugh Bonneville, or Mark Wahlberg), and the movie is entirely about his redemption as he learns to love others. The female figure is an attractive, interesting person (Hayley Atwell, Sally Hawkins, Mila Kunis) who is totally wasted in the role — she’s there to prop up the male figure’s character development. In all but Ted there is a sad, wise child or two, pining for their poor daddy. The magic bear shows up, who is basically a kind-hearted naif who keeps screwing up, and there are a series of misadventures that lead to Ewan, Hugh, or Mark growing up and becoming a more mature, doting husband/papa/person.
No one actually questions the existence of a talking, sentient stuffed animal. It is simply accepted. This is weird, and in addition to the predictable plot, kept drawing me out of the movie universe. I mean, even the endless string of superhero movies have moments of self-examination, where people wonder why these super-beings are here, and there are even plots where normal humans struggle to control them. But walking, talking teddy bears? How sweet! Let’s have conversations.
I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d do if a favorite childhood toy showed up one day (it doesn’t help that my childhood favorite was Horrible Hamilton), and started bumbling about, giving me life advice.
At least that’s an easy one to answer. I have a lab! I can never understand why these sentient stuffed animals aren’t being whisked off for a detailed analysis.
I guess that means I wouldn’t grow and develop as a functioning, socialized human being, but at least I’d be a step closer to understanding consciousness, the mind, and alternative patterns of cognition than you are, so there.