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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Winnie the Pooh and his friends try to find Eeyore a new tail in Winnie the Pooh.

3 Stars

Winnie the Pooh is a delightful trip down memory lane. It's brief (running only an hour) and it goes down very smoothly, despite being geared squarely toward children and not doing anything out of the ordinary. The film reminds you that not every adventure needs to be outrageous and fantastical. Sometimes, all you need is a little imagination, and who better to teach us that lesson than Disney and some of our oldest friends.

In case you had no childhood (or need a reminder), Winnie the Pooh is the best stuffed animal friend of Christopher Robin, a young British boy. He lives in The Hundred-Acre Wood with his neighbors and friends Piglet, Tigger, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore. Oh, and he loves hunny. The film is quite simple. Pooh wakes up one morning with a very important thing to do: He must help find Eeyore a new tail, but his growling tummy keeps getting in the way, and there isn't any hunny to be found. When Christopher Robin is taken by a horrible beast called the Backson, tail-finding and hunny-seeking is put on hold until Pooh and his friends can capture the monster and get back their friend.

The film has a wonderful way of always reminding us of its origins. There's the ever-present narration from the great John Cleese, but beyond that, there are moments when Pooh walks off the "set" and onto the page of the book. On several occasions, the characters get tangled up in the actual words and letters on the page. And once in a while, Pooh will actually interact with the narrator. It's a fun device that keeps the film going when the admittedly flimsy plot hits its dry spots.

On a similar note, the animation is quite charming. Its Disney's first hand-drawn film since The Princess and the Frog, and it's just what the doctor ordered both for a project like this and a marketplace like this. With 3D and computer-generated animation hitting their saturation points, something like this comes along and shows it doesn't take flashiness to make a good film. And with the nostalgia factor reaching critical mass, it seems sacrilegious to do anything other than old-fashioned animation on old Pooh and company.

There's really not much else to say. The film is extremely pleasant, especially to those who grew up with these characters. If you're looking for groundbreaking cinema, go elsewhere, but for a nice quick diversion, it's hard to beat Winnie the Pooh.


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