How can anybody hate on Winnie the Pooh? He’s been around forever, I mean Pooh’s creator A.A. Milne died long before I was even born and I’m not a young guy, but Pooh has endured. I even had a stuffed Tigger. Today we are gathered here today to pay homage to Pooh and the residents of Hundred Acre Wood as Walt Disney Studios gives us ‘Winnie the Pooh’. A movie Disney so loved that they released it the same weekend as Harry Potter. Don’t worry Pooh, we have your back here at the FCU.
We can tell you right off the bat that this movie isn’t trying to push the envelope in any way, shape or form as just allows us to spend some quality time with some old friends. John Cleese will narrate for us today as we find Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) soundly asleep. When Pooh finally wakes up, you know he’s going to be hungry, you know he will go to one of his jars searching for honey, you know his jars will be empty and we know he’s going to spend the majority of his time looking for honey. We know this.
Unfortunately for Pooh, his search for sustenance is sidetracked by a more pressing issue: Eeyore (Bud Lackey) has lost his tail. This has made Eeyore sad. Spending time with the characters for the first time in a long time, I’m thinking another character Hundred Acre Wood could’ve used was a therapist. Eeyore is terminally depressed, Pooh is an insatiable glutton, Tigger (also voiced by Jim Cummings) could really use a shot of Ritalin, Piglet (Travis Oates) has some serious self-worth issues, Owl (Craig Ferguson) is just the opposite with his issues of Self-Importance and when is Roo (Wyatt Dean Hall) going to leave Kanga’s pouch (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and take care of himself? Come on Roo, rise up. Yes, Rabbit (Tom Kenney) has bad nerves and looks like he could use a sedative, or at the very least a stiff drink, but if you had to hang out with these garden destroying nutjobs your entire life, you’d be frazzled as well.
Anyway, Eeyore needs a new tail and Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) has devised a contest to find him one with the remuneration… that’s Owl Speak… being a big pot of
honey. Pooh is on board. But even this simple task is placed on the back burner because somehow Christopher Robin has gotten himself kidnapped by the horrible, terrible, and much feared Backson. Well… not really… I mean Owl has gone and run with a story and Owl, is nothing, if not convincing when you get him started.
Now our residents of Hundred Acre Wood have a new task, and that is saving Christopher Robin! Rabbit has a plan, but with the likes of Pooh, Tigger, Owl and Piglet spearheading this plan of his, Christopher Robin is finished. That is if he was really in trouble. That Owl, I tell you. And you might want to ask him about Eeyore’s missing tail when you have a second.
So there’s no fancy, expensive, almost always worthless post 3D production process to deal with in ‘Winnie the Pooh’, there are no big stars doing voiceovers here, unless you count Zooey Deschanel singing a song, John Cleese narrating or Craig Ferguson voicing Owl as big stars, and the story that we are being told isn’t particularly smart, or clever or intelligent, but we do have to say that the filmmakers using the actual words on the page as props in this movie was a pretty clever visual device.
No sir, with ‘Winnie Pooh’ we have the distinct pleasure of spending some quality time with some familiar characters who feel like old friends. The animation style is simple but effective, Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall’s direction is crisp and to the point, and the story is about as familiar as the characters that we were spending time with. Friendship above all. Even above the quest for honey. Though Pooh does take advantage of poor Piglet and his low self-esteem a little bit.
One little thing that might be an issue with ‘Winnie the Pooh’ is the running time which clocks in at a scant 63 minutes. Does that even qualify to be a movie? I know that Pooh is going head up against Harry Potter and all and as such Disney isn’t trying to sink too much money into this film, but one would think they would give us a little filler or something. How about a new Mickey Mouse / Donald Duck short or maybe Zooey singing one of her Pooh songs in a music video or something. Try to get this thing somewhere close to seventy five minutes. The movie itself didn’t need to be longer as the length felt just about right, but you know… come on Disney. I think after I shelled out eighteen bucks for a Mickey Mouse themed sno-cone at that Disney on Ice show last year that I earned and extra twelve minutes of entertainment value. Don’t you think? And no, I will never let the eighteen dollar sno-cone go.
It’s Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood comfortably being who they are and naturally doing what we expect them to do. You would have to be a mean and bitter person to hate on Winnie the Pooh.