Review: Winnie the Pooh

Posted: July 15, 2011 in Film Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Image from Winnie the PoohMany of the cartoons from my childhood have received contemporary updates, often to their detriment — for me anyway. There are few animations that maintain my adoration post-renovations. On the other hand, the ones that stay true to the original style and story arcs tend to fare better in my opinion. Happily, Winnie the Pooh falls into the latter category.

In this new adventure, Winnie the Pooh is still searching for a pot of “hunny” to satisfy his grumbling tummy. However, he’s sidetracked when he discovers his good friend Eeyore has lost his tail. With the help of Christopher Robin, Pooh gathers everyone from The Hundred Acre Woods and they agree to find Eeyore a new tail; to the winner of the contest goes a pot of honey. However, during their search, they’re interrupted by the revelation that a terrible monster lives in the woods.

First, the storyline. For fans, the above description should sound quite familiar as most of those events have played out in previous films; though they are different enough that it doesn’t feel like the exact same picture. Rather than be a negative aspect of the film, this faithfulness to the source material is welcomed and appreciated. The last thing I wanted to see was a modern day tale starring Winnie the Pooh. There are also a number of songs typical of the story, including one with the lyrics “A Pooh bear takes care of his tummy” and another in which everything appears to be made of honey. Of course it wouldn’t be complete if Tigger didn’t musically inform everyone that he’s “the only one.” Consequently, the film does feel somewhat episodic at times, but the transition between scenes is smooth.

Beginning the narrative in Christopher Robin’s real bedroom was also a nice touch, but I would have preferred to see a classic stuffed bear rather than the more contemporary one displayed. Throughout the story, it alternates between the storybook and the characters’ world, allowing them to interact with the narrator and the words on the page, which was always one of the charming aspects of the films. In addition, utilizing hand drawn animation instead of CGI allows the story to retain a comforting feel usually reserved for a favourite stuffed animal.

The voices are very similar to the original cast, highlighting just one more element of the film that was addressed with care. As a bit of a treat, John Cleese narrates the story. His whimsical nature is perfect, making his interactions with Pooh fun and heart-warming. Zooey Deschanel sings the Winnie the Pooh theme and while she has a wonderful demeanour for children’s storytelling, her voice lacks a certain lullaby quality of the original.

Most of these elements will matter little to the new generation of Winnie the Pooh fans because it’s a wonderful, entertaining story that children will enjoy. But adult fans can take solace in knowing they can still enjoy it too.

Image from the Ballad of NessieThe movie begins with a short animation called The Ballad of Nessie, featuring the legendary sea creature. Nessie is expelled from her home by the construction of a mini-golf course. A friend tells her not to cry, but inconsolably disappointed by her failed search for a new home, Nessie finally gives in to her tears; which becomes a solution to her problem in itself. The moral of the story is it’s okay to cry, but it glosses over the larger issue of industry displacing wildlife. Moreover, featuring a male sea creature may have made a more pertinent point since boys are typically told not to cry more often than girls.

Finally, be sure to stay through the credits, which are sprinkled with little animations, because there is an amusing, short sequence featuring a previously unseen character at the end.

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