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Winnie the Pooh
Genre Animation

"Winnie - the Pooh, Winnie - the Pooh..." is one of those theme tunes that echoes in the back of your mind. The lethargic chant from Disney's beloved Pooh bear is quite simple and sweet, but there's much more to it. This is part of the charm of the TV series, based on the books by A.A. Milne and adapted to film by filmmakers Stephen J. Anderson (Meet the Robinsons) and Don Hall (The Princess and the Frog).

Winnie the Pooh may be aimed at children, but after a little scratching there's a wealth of intellectual amusement below the surface. Just like the Brothers Grimm, it seems A.A. Milne actually intended for his books to fascinate adults and children... a worthy cause considering the co-dependent relationship of a goodnight story. The film acknowledges Milne's desire to entertain young and old by appealing to everyone's senses with visual and intellectual stimulation.

The Tao of Pooh, a book introducing Eastern life principles to a Western readership, demonstrated that there was so much more to Christopher Robin's fantasy world than sweet, light-hearted and childish fun. In many ways, the new Pooh movie is reminiscent of cult TV series, Arrested Development. The before-its-time series is also getting an adaptation to film after being canceled by its network and has strong parallels with the new Pooh movie.

There's a level of dysfunction that permeates the troop of cuddly "toys". They're a family, all existing in the same environment, all relying on one person to keep them together. The character of Michael Bluth may be a nice guy like Christopher Robin, but without him... they cease to cope or exist even - tumbling from one moment of mild peril to the next much like the extended Bluth family. Arrested Development also dealt with somewhat manic characters, mostly self-absorbed and preoccupied with the here and now and had an all-seeing narrator character.

This is quite similar to the predicament the characters of Winnie the Pooh find themselves in after a note from Christopher Robin is wildly misinterpreted by Owl. Each character seems to exhibit some form of disorder... Eyore is depressed, Piglet is neurotic, Owl has delusions of grandeur - while Winnie has to round them up, keep them in-line to avoid awkward situations and make sense of his own simple life.

The animation is in 2D, maintaining a nostalgic throwback to the original without blurring the lines with 3D technology. Instead of dazzling audiences with savvy CGI-style animation, they choose to take the path of other Disney classics like Dumbo... stretching the reach of hand-drawn creativity. Similar scenes to the psychedelic elephant dance take place in Winnie the Pooh with a honey dream for Pooh and a chalkboard escapade as imagined by Owl.

The story holds your attention. The central conceit pivots on a misunderstanding, as the story is relayed by narrator John Cleese, who often interacts with the characters, voiced by talents Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson and Travis Oates. The self-reference and the characters ability to affect the text lettering of the book make the movie complex and enjoyable thanks to all the layering. While the sweet and "simple" environment is richly contoured with emotional complexities, mild peril and fantastic elements.

While the run-time is short, the pacing is good, the content is funny and the characters are endearing. There's only so much you can do with the world of Winnie the Pooh and the filmmakers blend their own sense of wackiness into the story without allowing its traditional audience to wander. It's a good duration considering the attention span of the youngest viewers and includes an equally sweet 2D Disney cartoon short about a Loch Ness monster.

The serene world of Winnie the Pooh just seems that much more alive in this film adaptation. Fans of the series will enjoy the same old characters, while movie goers who believe they've outgrown the currency of Winnie the Pooh will be pleasantly surprised. It's not going to change the world, but it will amuse, charm and leave you feeling good with that theme tune ringing in your ears for days to come.

The bottom line: Fun.

7.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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