Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

MPAA (G) CNS/USCCB (A-I) Roger Ebert (3 stars) Fr. Dennis (4 stars)

IMDb Listing -
CNS/USCCB Review -
Roger Ebert’s Review -

Winnie the Pooh (directed by Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall and written by Stephen J. Anderson, Clio Chiang and others) is a truly lovely, little kid friendly, and interestingly enough _book friendly_ screen adaptation (by Disney) of the classic children’s story by the same name. 

I added, “book friendly” to the list of descriptors for this adaptation because throughout the movie viewers are reminded that Winnie the Pooh began as a children’s book.   There are scenes in the movie in which the animated characters walk around on screen acting out the story even as the narrator (voiced by John Cleese) reads the story appearing in big black story-book-like letters above them.  Indeed, at one point the various characters climb out of a pit that they find themselves in using “a ladder made of letters” from the previous page, a lovely device that we remember from our story-book reading days.

The Winnie the Pooh stories have been around since the 1920s.  So a legitimate question could be asked, does this movie adaptation still “work” for the 3-5 year olds of today?   About 80% of the people at the matinee at which I saw this movie were little kids (3-5 year olds).  It seemed to me that the vast majority of the kids enjoyed the film, laughing along with the story and even at times that I didn’t necessarily immediately understand why (the animation was very cute ;-).

So I do believe that this adaptation of the story remains a safe bet for the 3-5 year old crowd.  The cartoon characters are very well drawn and the voices -- Winnie the Pooh / Tigger (voiced by Jim Cummings), Eeyore (voiced by Bud Luckey), Christopher Robin (voiced by Jack Boulter), Owl (voiced by Craig Ferguson), Piglet (voiced Travis Oates), Kanga (voiced by Kristen Anderson-Lopez), Roo (voiced Wyatt Dean Hall), Rabbit (voiced by Tom Kenny), Backson (voiced but never seen by Huell Howser) – are excellent. 

Also refreshing for an older fogey like me, is the slow, lazy pacing of the story.  At a time when movies tend toward ever faster action, and more explosive special effects, Winnie the Pooh’s set in the summer time, at Christopher Robin’s farm somewhere in the countryside near a wood, somewhere.  So there’s no rush.  And Winnie the Pooh's "Very Important Thing to Do" is simply to get a hold of some honey to fill his ever more grumbling tummy.  And the story unfolds just, just fine from there ;-).

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