Winnie the Pooh inspirations

More than a few people were confused when writer/director Alex Ross Perry signed on to write Disney’s live-action Winnie the Pooh film. Perry is known for his brutal and darkly funny dramas, like the fantastic Listen Up, Phillip, so he isn’t the first name you associate with a property like Winnie the Pooh.

Once you learn what the director’s inspirations are for the live-action Disney film, his involvement in the project makes more sense. After the jump, learn why A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a template for the project.

The story will pick up with Christopher Robin all grown up, and some event brings him back to Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood. In an interview with Collider, Perry discussed his inspirations for the film, including Steven Spielberg’s 2001 science-fiction drama:

There’s a lot inspired by the relationship between David and Teddy in AI. That’s not really a children’s film at all. Crushingly depressing. But the relationship between human and toy bear in that movie is pretty spot on. And Fantastic Mr. Fox is something I’ve been talking about and thinking about because it has a lot of characters and each one is pretty distinct. It’s a fun movie and it works for a four year old and for a thirty year old. But David and Teddy in AI is the relevant model. We’re looking at Toy Story a lot because that’s a thing about toys that are alive just as Pooh Bear and his friends are all stuffed animals.

Remember that shot of Teddy at the bottom of the ocean in A.I.? It’s a chilling image, and one of the many reasons why A.I.‘s ending isn’t as happy as people claim it is. As for how Perry became involved in Winnie the Pooh, he says he’s been looking to make a children’s film for a while now:

I had been talking about a children’s property I was interested in, which of course seems surprising to everyone. It was just one of the things after Listen Up Phillip that I said to people that I care about. Nothing happened with [the children’s adaptation]; but eight months later, [my agent] randomly called me and said ‘Hey I was on the phone with someone at Disney and they’re trying to get [Winnie the Pooh] going. Do you want to talk with them about it? It’s similar to the thing you were trying to do before.’ I said, ‘Yeah – I will earn that job. I will earn that job the minute they talk to me.

Perry isn’t the first indie darling to collaborate with Disney on one of their live-action updates. David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) wrote and directed Pete’s Dragon, and it’s promising to see Disney continuing to work with filmmakers like Lowery and Ross, directors with distinct voices.

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