Whimisical, magical and very, very funny.
While this can be said about any movie based on the AA Milne classic Winnie the Pooh it pleases me to be able to write that the latest Pooh movie opening July 15 and brought to you by the good folks at Disney, has achieved the monumental task of elevating the power that is Pooh.
Everything is there that one would hope for in a Winnie the Pooh movie. The misunderstanding that turns into an epic adventure that only the likes of my favourite Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Kanga and Roo, Rabbit, Owl and of course Tigger can find themselves in, the one-liners, the great sentimentality of these stories and of course Christopher Robin.
Ridiculous, lovely and powered by a tenacity that can only be described as child-like in the best possible way, the fervour that we find Pooh on in his search for Huny is what has captured my heart for decades and I was pleased to see that it was still all there and then some.
I went in knowing nothing about the story for the movie and really that is ok because Winnie the Pooh and his gang tend to find themselves in the best and worst of situations and the joy in watching a Pooh film is seeing how they get out of whatever prickly place they find themselves in.
This particular movie acts as a bit of an update of the character’s storytelling style as there were plenty of nerd nuggets for the adults in the form of quick jokes, one-liners and a particular homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark that was quick, came out of nowhere and had me laughing out loud for a bit. In fact, there were plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout the film that had the kids literally losing their minds with laughter. So it is safe to say that the fine balance of it being a kids’ movie while very much being watchable by adults is achieved.
Usually in reviews I tend to break down characters, pacing and plot development. With this film I dare not even begin that process. This movie is a fun watch that is complete on all levels. The music powered by Henry Jackman and some new songs by Zooey Deschanel perfectly supported the story and the characters voiced by Craig Ferguson and others including John Cleese as the narrator. The animation was its usual perfect self with the integration between the storybook aspect of the Winnie the Pooh books and the animated storytelling working together to bring forth that ideal balance that we expect from a Winnie the Pooh movie. Even the end credits were fun to watch with a little nerd nugget at the end of them.
Bottom line, see this film. It is fun to watch, kids will love it and so will you.
p.s.- eeyore still rules
By (super-fan) : Jennifer Johnston
When I think about Winnie the Pooh I am immediately six-years old again.
I can hear narrator Sebastian Cabot‘s lilting voice telling me a story, Pooh and his seemingly endless hunt for ‘Huny”, playing with my Eeyore doll and its snap-off tail, and my Mom singing me a Winnie the Pooh lullaby at bedtime. No matter how many people claim to love Winnie the Pooh, for some reason I always thought of him as ‘mine’. We had a bond, Pooh and I.
It’s many (many) years later, and still The Hundred-Acre Wood and its citizens never fail to bring about feelings of comfort and child-like amusement.
So, when I heard Disney was about to release a new Winnie the Pooh movie, I actually got a little nervous. After a while I had worked myself into quite a state. What if it didn’t retain the charming, soft, smallness of the original stories? In this era of seizure-inducing, rapid-fire games and movies, what if Disney felt the need to update Pooh to compete? Would they change the animation style to Hello Kitty or anime? Oh my god – What if they let Michael Bay direct?
I felt like Pooh was a part of me and I didn’t want his reputation sullied if the new movie failed to live up to the high standards of the original stories and movies. It was as if I had something personal at stake. I imagine this is similar to how die-hard Star Wars or Star Trek fans feel. Suddenly I could understand their need to protect the franchise and have the uninitiated understand why it was so ‘important’.
Well, I am thrilled to say that I didn’t need to worry.
I had an opportunity to view the new Winnie the Pooh movie on a Saturday morning in a theatre filled with kids and adults. I held my breath a bit as the movie started and felt the excitement of my inner six-year old start to emerge.
The many writers, two directors, and entire production team have done an incredible job. They struck a great balance by keeping the sweet, innocent, creative essence of the original while also incorporating modern elements and reference points that will appeal to kids (and parents) today.
I won’t summarize the plot here….it’s much more fun to experience it unfold in the theatre. Although, for anyone who has experienced Winnie the Pooh before, I’m not giving anything away to say it involves an initial misunderstanding and the efforts of Winnie, Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Owl, Rabbit, and Tigger to make things even more delightfully confusing.
Diehard fans will love seeing the storybook layout and interplay of the characters and the words of the ‘book’ being read. The animation retains the simple, uncomplicated style of the original….a critical factor in setting the stage for the childlike storyline. The soundtrack and narration honour the original and instantly pull you into the suspended-reality world created by Winnie the Pooh’s creator, author A.A. Milne.
While not a parent, I’ve been to a few kids’ movies with family, friends, and their wee ones. It’s easy to tell if kids like a movie based on the squirm-in-their-seat factor and if they start playing whatever game system they seem to always have on-hand. Based on this highly scientific measurement system, I can safely say Winnie the Pooh was a huge hit with the kids in the audience.
Looking around the theatre I saw little faces glued to the screen and laughing with the same delight that I remember as a child. Seeing this reaction made me happy for a reason that, at first, I couldn’t understand. Eventually I realized it was relief I was feeling….these kids loved Winnie the Pooh the same way I had as a child. The characters, story, and style stood the test of time are just as entertaining for today’s kids as when Pooh was first created.
For parents looking for a movie that will be enjoyed by kids of many ages, Winnie the Pooh is it. They also may be surprised at how much they enjoy the movie (a rare treat for parents who have been forced to stay awake during so many Barney brain-numbing experiences). I laughed, out loud, more times than I could count. While I had to have one specific Raiders of the Lost Ark homage explained to me, there are plenty of moments that will keep adults amused as well.
Keep an ear out for John Cleese as the Narrator and The Late, Late Show‘s Craig Ferguson as Owl. Actor/musician Zooey Deschanel does a wonderful job as writer and performer of the song ‘So Long’ that plays with the closing credits. Speaking of credits – stay until the very end. It’s worth it.