Toon Talk: Winnie the Pooh
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Kirby reviews Disney's latest release based on one of their classic characters - Winnie the Pooh.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt
Disney's Winnie the Pooh
Walt Disney Pictures
MPAA Rating: G
Silly Ol’ Bear
It has been 34 years since Disney’s first feature length visit to the world of A.A. Milne’s “bear of very little brain”, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977). During that time the character, along with his fellow inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, have become beloved pop culture icons, spawning everything from television series and DVDs to theme park attractions, not to mention a seemingly never-ending line of merchandise, from stuffed animals and toys to books and video games.
Additionally, three more feature films -- The Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet’s Big Movie (2003) and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005) -- have been released theatrically, with (as the titles suggest) our Pooh in supporting roles. But he returns to center stage in his unexpected yet delightful latest big screen adventure, simply titled Winnie the Pooh (in theaters now). And, as this title suggests, it’s back to basics for the lovable Pooh crew.
Gone are such recent cast additions as Lumpy and Darby, as well as all the contemporary trappings that have accumulated over the years. The result is a timeless, thoroughly charming tale that will entertain the little ones while also providing the grown-ups in tow a chuckle or two, along with a healthy dose of nostalgia.
The new Pooh weaves three simple stories together within its brisk, family friendly running time of just 69 minutes. Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings, who has done the honors since 1988) is, still, on a quest for his luscious honey, while the rest of the gang help Eeyore (a perfectly cast Bud Luckey, of Pixar’s Boundin’ fame) find a replacement for his missing tail. These activities are interrupted, however, when the critters mistake a note left by their dear friend Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) that says that he will be “back soon” as a cry for help that he’s been captured by a mysterious creature known as a “Backson”. While these subplots are hardly anything new when it comes to Pooh stories (especially for anyone who has seen the 1997 DVD feature Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin), there’s a comforting familiarity about them, like an oft-read bedtime story.
Livening up the proceedings are a handful of new (if not entirely memorable) songs by composing couple Kristen Anderson-Lopez (who also voices Kanga) and Robert Lopez (Tony Award winner for the not-so-family-friendly Broadway hits Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon). But not to worry, the classic Sherman Brothers tunes “Winnie the Pooh” and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” are also heard.