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Thursday, January 5, 2012



"Oh, Pooh, you went back for the honey, didn't you?"
-- Piglet

Winnie the Pooh is a 2011 animated film directed by Don Hall and Stephen J. Anderson that offers a new tale in the Hundred Acres Wood. Our narrator (voiced by John Cleese) starts our tale by telling the audience of morning where Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) had something important to do. He starts to go about his day in the hopes of finding what he's supposed to do, but he happens to stumble upon his friend Eeyore (voiced by Bud Luckey), who has lost his tail. Distraught, Pooh asks his friend Christopher Robin (voiced by Jack Boulter) for help, and he suggests a contest to see who can give Eeyore the best new tail. Every one of their friends, from Piglet (voiced by Travis Oates) and Owl (voiced by Craig Ferguson) to Kanga (voiced by Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and Roo (voiced by Wyatt Dean Hall), helps out, but in the process, the group comes to believe that Christopher Robin has been kidnapped by a terrible beast called the "backson." Led by Tigger (voiced by Cummings) and Rabbit (voiced by Tom Kenny) in an attempt to find their friend, they set a trap for this horrible monster and wait for it to be tricked.

I was moderately excited when this film was released last summer, and I wasn't at all shocked at how well-received it was with the critical community, and it's critical success was equivalent to the success that the 1977 film, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, received during its theatrical run. While the film from the 1970s featured three shorter vignettes, this film manages to interweave the stories and create one continuous and connected narrative that plays out rather nicely.

One of the film's stronger points is its screenplay. While on the one hand it's offering something terribly simple and easy-to-understand for the childhood audience, we're actually getting a few little quips here and there for the adult crowd. You have to imagine that the screenwriters understood that parents would be taking their kids to see this one, so they wanted to give them a little something to enjoy as well. But there's something so brutally innocent about the story and the characters that makes it all wonderfully charming. It's difficult to find a movie - even an animated kid's movie - in today's society that knows how to be completely innocent and carefree, but Winnie the Pooh has succeeded in doing just that, and it has its storyline and screenplay to thank.

I could probably talk about the vocal acting in the film, but there really isn't that much to say. The base characters have been crafted and created in the past, so it was up to the performers to mimic as best they could, and I thought they all did splendidly. I do think, however, that Cleese was the perfect choice to play the film's narrator.

We're also getting a rather stellar soundtrack, much of which is crafted by the multi-talented Zooey Deschanel. I had known that she was working on the film for quite some time, but I didn't quite know just how much she'd actually be doing with the movie. However, her voice is heard rather often throughout the flick, and it's a rather pleasant surprise, to be sure. From the film's opening sequence with the oh-so-familiar theme, she makes her presence known, and I couldn't be happier that she found a way into this film. Here's her biggest song on the soundtrack, which plays during the end credits:

At the end of the day, I have to be honest: I couldn't watch this movie without a huge, ridiculous grin across my face. I was smiling from ear to ear from start to finish, and I could probably go back and watch it again right now and smile and laugh just as much. This is high-class animated cinema at its finest, and I can only wish that studios were making films this brilliantly innocent more often. And yet, a part of me doesn't because that allows Winnie the Pooh to remain the gem that it is. I'll leave you with the critical consensus for the film from, where it holds a 91% approval rating:
Short, nostalgic, and gently whimsical, Winnie the Pooh offers young audiences - and their parents - a sweetly traditional family treat.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: A-
2 Thumbs Up

1 comment:

  1. I have to disagree about the screenplay. One thing I have loved about the characters since I was a little kid was how simple their world was. They were always honest and open with each other and never did anything that would endanger another character. Lines like "Throw in the pig" shows to me that the characters have changed and become just as selfish and mean-spirited as any animated character on any television program.