VOCAL WORK BY
Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Bud Luckey, Jack Boulter, John Cleese, Travis Oates, Tom Kenny and Kristin Anderson-Lopez
Don Hall, Stephen J. Anderson
Walt Disney Cos.
- Feature Film
- 3 Deleted Scenes With Director Intro
- "The Ballad of Nessie" Theatrical Short
- Mini Adventures of Winnie The Pooh: "Pooh's Balloon" Short
If you're paying attention, then you've likely noticed that somehow this 69-minute little film has received this week the very same rating from this critic as the arguably superior and infinitely more advanced final film in the Harry Potter series.
Ludicrous, you say?
There is no doubt which film will win the box-office this week, especially given that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 has amassed over $32 million in pre-admission ticket sales with a day to go before the film even opens. That said, Winnie the Pooh is exactly what I'd hoped it would be ... a loving and faithful tribute to the early Pooh shorts with a sort of genteel quality about it that captures Hundred Acre Wood in all its innocence and wonder. With added musical tunes composed by Robert Lopez (from, believe it or not, Broadway's Book of Mormon) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez along with a reboot of the original Winnie the Pooh tune sung beautifully by actress Zooey Deschanel, Winnie the Pooh is a breezy and glorious way for parents to spend time with their small children. Heck, even children with a short attention span should be able to endure the film's spars 69-minute running time given the visual kaleidoscope that unfolds as if Tigger were bouncing all around it.
Voice actor Jim Cummings rather amazingly brings to life both Pooh and Tigger, impossibly replacing the late Sterling Holloway and also Paul Winchell. As is always true of a Pooh tale, the story is rather simple as we have Pooh out of honey yet coming to the aid of friend Eeyore (Bud Luckey), who has lost his tail. Rabbit (Tom Kenny) and Owl (Craig Ferguson) concoct plans to try to aid their good friend, whilst the always reliable Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) may have been abducted by a suspected beast called "backson."
I chuckle even thinking about it.
Winnie the Pooh is unquestionably more faithful to its source material, and less geared towards mass consumption than the recent Heffalump movie or the Piglet or Tigger pictures. While this is a Disney film, it's a smaller Disney film aiming to please the hardcore Pooh purists who grew up with Pooh as a treasured memory of childhood. Had Disney truly been consumed by the idea of mass consumption, Winnie the Pooh certainly would have had more special effects, a faster pace and more distractions - oh, and there's no way it would be opening opposite Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.
The film is narrated beautifully by John Cleese, and the vocal work is across the board exceptional with special kudos for Cummings' dual roles. The music is a delight, the animation faithful to the original Pooh while also taking advantage of advanced technology. Lessons about friendship and giving abound in Winnie the Pooh, but in a way that entertains without being overly preachy.
Given the film's slight running time, it's a reward to see an animated short precede the film, the Billy Connolly narrated The Ballad of Nessie, about the Loch Ness Monster. It's a nice little companion piece to Winnie the Pooh, a brief yet warm and memorable film that one can only hope will manage to find an audience despite its opening weekend competition.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic