Making its debut this weekend on Starz was last year’s “Winnie the Pooh” from Walt Disney studios.
It’s traditionally animated and features all the classic A.A. Milne characters that inhabit the Hundred Acre Wood. Disney has brought them to the screen many times over the years, but in this particular installment, Disney released the picture with surprisingly little fanfare. I barely even realized it had come and gone. Possibly because they released it on the same weekend as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”.
Frankly, it made me wonder if Disney was “dumping it”.
If they were, there was certainly no reason to, as “Winnie the Pooh” is wonderfully crafted animated movie, worthy of a place in the Disney heritage.
“Winnie the Pooh” feels like a throw back to the Classic Disney films. Traditionally animated, splendidly voiced and chock full of entertaining songs, “Pooh” has an unmistakable retro feel to it. It would fit perfectly in amongst a marathon of the Disney films of yore.
Part of its charm is that unlike most of today’s animated fare, “Pooh” is less concerned with appealing to all ages and is squarely aimed at children. Not that adults can’t appreciate it… on the contrary, I found it highly entertaining. It’s simply that this movie wasn’t as concerned with telling a traditional, mature story, and more concerned with whimsical adventures and silly moments that would amuse children.
“Winnie the Pooh” leaps right into things… all your favorite characters are quickly introduced as if you already know them and the adventures are under way. Eeyore has lost his tail, and everyone must help find it. Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo all do their best to track it down, but they get in their own way more often than not. Pooh, of course, constantly craves honey, and frequently gets into trouble in his quest for it. Owl is too smart for his own good, Piglet is a nervous little critter, and Eeyore mopes about as if the sun never shines. And Tigger, well, it’s a good thing there’s only one Tigger in the woods. He’s a virtual booby trap.
It’s certainly a cast of lovable characters, which is why they’ve withstood the test of time.
For the most part, they all engage in silly misunderstandings and traipsing about the woods. Occasionally there are sweet, surrealistic flourishes such as dream sequences or a chalkboard drawing taking over the frame… and as Pooh stories are wont to do, they frequently break the fourth wall, with the Pooh characters interacting with the narrator (John Cleese) or pages of the storybook. The traditional hand drawn (with occasional CGI blend) animation looks great, and its a refreshing change to the 3D modeling that is used in most children’s movies today. Add in some fun, kid friendly tunes, and this is a movie that’s perfect for families with young children.
Plus, the brief run time (barely over an hour) will probably be appreciated by parents who don’t want to worry about keeping their kids in the theatre too long.