WINNIE THE POOH
By Gary Murray
Starring the voice talents of John Cleese, Jim Cummings and Craig Ferguson
Written by Burny Mattinson
Based on the books by A.A. Milne
Directed by Don Hall and Stephan J Anderson
Running time 69 min
MPAA Rating G
Selig Film Rating Matinee
The adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh have been a part of childhood for decades. The A.A. Milne stories of a ‘bear of little brain’ have delighted generations of wee ones and Walt Disney turned the stories into animated adventures that still thrill the youngest of viewers. Today, Disney has gone real old school and made a new hand drawn adventure.
The story starts with out narrator (wonderful John Cleese) telling the tale of Pooh in search of some honey. After some mild adventures with the rest of the cast, he ends up at Christopher Robin’s house. There is a note about being ‘Back Soon’ and it is misconstrued as CR being taken by the dreaded Backson. The rest of the residents set up a trap to catch the horrid beast with different whimsical traps which tend to backfire. The entire experience is a giant misunderstanding that eventually settles back to normalcy. We have Tigger trying to cheer-up Eeyore by making the sad beast another tigger. Piglet has to confront his fears in the forest and there is B’loon, a quiet air-head who drifts scene to scene.
The writers of the adventure break the fourth wall by having the characters react to the narrator. The story book of the adventure becomes a part of the story with falling letters and characters getting caught by the physical aspects of punctuation.
The animation in this film is beautifully done. The colors and characters just leap off the page and on the screen. This style of film–making is being killed by computers and it is refreshing to see this type of story told in such a classic way. Another aspect of this film that oozes charm is the songs. Zooey Deschanel does some of the singing and her light lilt gives the tunes that extra bit of allure.
The movie runs barely over an hour, just the right amount of time before the toddlers get bored. To help pad the running time is an animated short about Nessie, the Lock Ness Monster. It is a cute little tale in shades of tartans. The style of the animation reminds one of some of the latter cartoons of Disney, with smoother lines and simpler backgrounds. It becomes a charming little tidbit before the main feature.
The film is truly aimed at the pre-school crowd and their parents. My nine year-old god daughter found the movie a bit boring. I found the animation captivating and beautiful. This film is recommended for those who not readers yet or those who wish to see the ‘old style’ hand drawn animation technique.