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Winnie the Pooh - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Winnie the Pooh
Directing: B+
Acting: B
Writing: B+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+
Animation: A-

Perhaps it's technically an oxymoron to call something pleasantly wistful, but there's something about this Winnie the Pooh that defies receiving any other description. Disney wisely avoids any slick aesthetic updates, and instead gives this film a look and feel virtually identical to 1977's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh -- the only other Winnie the Pooh film included as part of Disney Animated Classics.

It's also one of the very few instances where a lack of sophistication is to its advantage. Winnie the Pooh is aimed squarely at an audience even younger than most of Disney's animated features, with characters that face very simple problems that arise from simple-minded naiveté. It's easy for small children to follow, but although it doesn't include any in-jokes for adults that would fly over kids' heads, it's still pleasant and witty enough for the adults to enjoy.

The story here involves a misunderstanding perpetuated by Owl (voiced with pitch-perfect pomposity by Craig Ferguson), who mis-reads Christopher Robin's note that he'll "be back soon" as a notice that he's been kidnapped by a "backson." What's a backson? Well, Owl will come up with all sorts of mayhem-causing ways possessed by one! And so Pooh and the gang try to come up with ways to capture this elusive creature.

Meanwhile, Eeyore's tail is missing. A reward of a pot of honey is offered for anyone who can find him a suitable replacement. This provides many opportunities for Eeyore to be hilariously glum. (Only Eeyore can deadpan "We're all gonna die" in a cartoon and be funny.) Of course we all know who wants that pot of honey most: Pooh Bear.

And so the plot in this rather short film (69 minutes) just bops along, being amusing and charming and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. The conceit of the original 1977 feature, where the text on the page of the book being read to us often appears on screen, reappears -- almost too much. But it's fun to see the characters bouncing along words and sentences and paragraphs, and sometimes causing them to fall in a heap on the ground, or using them as a ladder.

There's likely a generational split with audiences apt to enjoy this film. This is really a movie for small children and their accompanying adults -- the ones old enough to have enjoyed the 1977 film as a kid. Minors above the age of six or seven, particularly if they were weaned on far more complex entertainment, might be apt to be dismissive. (I saw it with an 11-year-old, though, who enjoyed it.) But for those with either an inability to be misguided and cynical about movies, or an ability to recognize quality artistry, should find themselves sucked in.

Winnie the Pooh leads Christopher Robin and the gang on a brand new adventure equal to all previous ones.

Overall: B+
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