Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh is one of those timeless characters that anyone, no matter what age, will find charming and heartwarming. Over the years, our fluffy friend has had several movies and television series’s but for me, nothing has really captured the spirit of the original three Disney animated shorts, combined in 1977 as The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I’m happy to report that 2011’s Winnie the Pooh does.
After a bit of coaxing by the narrator (John Cleese), Pooh Bear wakes up to his typical rubmly tumbly and ventures out to find some honey, but not before singing something of a duet with his…stomach. It doesn’t sing exactly, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. Pooh and his friends set out trying to replace Eeyore’s missing tail but end up, due to a simple misunderstanding, planning to rescue their friend Christopher Robin from a horrific creature known as The Backson.
At first glance, Winnie the Pooh seems like another torturous Disney film your kids drag you too, but the writers have found that sweet-spot balance of humor that will have any adult laughing along with their kids. Even if you aren’t a parent, this 69 minutes is cute, cuddly and even touching without being overly saccharine or dragging on.
The characters’ voices are as close to the original actors’ likenesses as you can get, save for Craig Ferguson’s Owl, but he does an excellent job at playing the know-it-all character we’re all familiar with. Tom Kenney, Spongebob himself, lends his pipes to the often neurotic Rabbit. Jim Cummings reprises the roles of Pooh and Tigger as he has done for some 30 years. The ever-gloomy Eeyore has been voiced by a number of actors over the decades including Mr. Optimus Prime: Peter Cullen. However for this film, Pixar animator Bud Luckey (recognized by many from Pixar’s Boundin’) plays the donkey spot on.
Speaking of pipes, several of the original songs were written and performed by Almost Famous‘ Zooey Deschanel. The music isn’t as memorable or toe-tapping as the kind fans expect from a typical Disney musical, but neither does it detract from the pacing or lightheartedness of the story.
Winnie the Pooh is a joy from start to finish. Watching the in-book visuals, airy storytelling (not airheaded) and ever-familiar characters is, for an adult, like reliving your childhood, if only for an hour. For kids, the colorful characters are likely to become fast friends, if they aren’t already. I fear that its release beside the Harry Potter finale might limit its success, but if you’re looking for an alternative to the wizarding world or can come up with some extra ticket money, Winnie the Pooh won’t disappoint.
Winnie The Pooh, starring Jim Cummings, starts July 15th, 2011