I had the opportunity to watch Disney’s latest Winnie the Pooh film with my six year old daughter. Much to my surprise, she wasn’t thrilled about watching Pooh and friends again. She informed me that she already saw it recently at school and wasn’t a big fan. I couldn’t help but think that I’ve ruined her. She only tolerated the hour long animated feature but she got excited when she discovered that we also had Planet of The Apes arrive via Netflix. While she sat in a trance watching Pooh, she was excitedly asking questions and making comments through much of Charlton Heston’s 40+ year old, 2 hour long sci-fi flick. Go figure.
Winnie the Pooh is a throwback. The movie feels as though it could have been made fifty years ago, which is good. The last thing I want to see is a hip post-modern Winnie the Pooh. If other studios owned the Hundred Acre Wood property I know there’d be an endless stream of ironic pop culture references followed up by Rabbit revealing he’s long suffered from OCD, Tigger declaring he’s bouncing everywhere instead of driving in order to do his part to cut down on carbon emissions, Pooh breaking down and confessing he’s addicted to the drug known as “huny”, and Christopher Robin serving as the terrible human out to crush all his furry little friends by developing the hundred acre’s into a theme park. Instead, Disney gives us the story of Eeyore losing his tail and his friends’ pursuit to help him find it. It’s just that simple.
The characters behave just as they always have. Tigger is bouncing along to his own beat. Pooh is obsessed with honey. Rabbit is passionately defending his garden. Piglet is scared of everything. Eeyore is pure doom and gloom. Owl is endlessly pontificating. Nothing has changed and all these characters interact in the ways we’ve come to expect.
The animation is classical yet never boring. A couple scenes use different styles of animation to mix things up. There’s a chalkboard drawing sequence and then a Pooh in a land of honey scene which are surreal. Both gave me flashbacks to that dream sequence in Dumbo. Even as a child I was convinced the people who came up with that little number were ingesting magic mushrooms.
Perhaps the best part of this latest adventure with Christopher Robin’s crew was its length – 63 minutes total. You have to love that. As much as my daughter wasn’t thrilled to watch the movie, she sat through it again mainly because it was over before she knew it.
I must confess something now. My daughter is not alone. I’m not the biggest Winnie the Pooh fan either. I enjoyed the movie for what it is, a short, fun, simple, and nicely animated film that doesn’t wear out its welcome. And for that I give it a slightly higher rating than I’d probably give it otherwise.