Dirs: Stephen Anderson, Don Hall. US. 2011. 73mins
In amidst all of the big-budget 3D animated movies such as Rio, Tangled and Kung Fu Panda 2, Disney has also quietly set about making Winnie The Pooh, a charmingly modest romp that has the appearance of classic hand-drawn animated techniques and offers up good-natured entertainment for the under tens.
The animation style is precisely in the style of the original two-dimensional look of the original films.
Of course, Disney has had success over the years with its animated adaptation of the much loved stories by A.A. Milne (and the drawings by E.H. Shepard), and this latest addition to the roster will prove popular with fans of the stories and enchant youngsters new to the tales of a honey-mad bear and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.
The film had a European launch prior to its July US opening, and should prove to be a strong performer in amidst the summer blockbusters. Naturally enough it will also boost sales of back product as well as the plethora of associated toys and games…people might also even pick up the original books.
Disney has made a number of ‘Pooh’ films over the years – both shorts and features, with three shorts linked together to form Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh in 1977 – but this is the first to use the title Winnie The Pooh. In a familiar structure this new film weaves together three Milne-inspired stories.
There is a nicely contemporary spin to the film with Zooey Deschanel singing the familiar title song, before the film settles down to a reassuringly familiar storyline. Pooh bumps into Eeyore, who has lost his tail, leading to the gang – Tigger, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo and Rabbit – heading off on an adventure as they try to find a new tail. This naturally leads to other escapades and romps, but all on a level suitable for the wee ones.
The animation style is precisely in the style of the original two-dimensional look of the original films, though directors Stephen Anderson and Don Hall make clever use of the format, making book pages part of the film and having the characters interact with letters and punctuation marks on the page, as well as with the narrator (a suitably quirky John Cleese).
The film’s characters as so familiar that it is hard for the filmmakers to do little new with them, though Craig Ferguson makes an impact as Owl. It is re-assuring, though, to have Jim Cummings to handle the dual roles of Pooh and Tigger, as he has done for many years now, helping give the film an easy charm.
Production company: Walt Disney Pictures
International distribution: Walt Disney Pictures
Producers: Peter Del Vecho, Clark Spencer
Executive producer: John Lasseter
Screenplay: Stephen Anderson, Clio Chiang, Don Dougherty, Don Hall, Kendelle Hoyer, Brian Kesinger, Nicole Mitchell, Jeremy Spears, based on the Winnie The Pooh books by A.A. Milne, E.H. Shepard.
Editor: Lisa Linder Silver
Music: Henry Jackman, songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
Art director: Paul Felix
Main cast: (voices) John Cleese, Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Jack Boulter, Travis Oates, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Wyatt Dean Hall, Tom Kenny Backson, Huell Howser