Winnie the Pooh (U)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner15/04/2011

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 69 mins

Despite some superb songs and some impressive animation, this is ultimately disappointing, thanks to a general dumbing down of the characters, irritating voice work and a script that's guaranteed to annoy Pooh purists.

What's it all about?
Directed by Stephen Anderson and Don Hall, Winnie the Pooh is the latest attempt by Disney animators to tackle AA Milne's classic children's stories. Though purporting to be based on the first book (Winnie the Pooh), the film in fact only borrows heavily from one story (Chapter Four – In which Eeyore loses a tail and Pooh finds one) while mixing in elements of two other stories, one of which is from the second book (The House at Pooh Corner).

Narrated by John Cleese (though again, the narration, again while purporting to be from the books, is actually written for the film, despite misleadingly appearing as text on screen), the story follows hungry bear of very little brain Pooh (Jim Cummings) as he goes in search of honey and discovers his depressed donkey friend Eeyore (Bud Luckey) has lost his tail. A competition to find the tail is duly organised and all Pooh's friends – timid Piglet (Travis Oates), wise Owl (Craig Ferguson), motherly Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez), helpful Roo (Wyatt Hall), busy Rabbit (Tom Kenny) and bouncy Tigger (Jim Cummings again) – join in, but their tail-finding activities are curtailed when Owl interprets a note from Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) as a warning that a creature called a Backson has invaded the forest, so they all set out to catch one.

The Good
The best thing about the film are the original songs contributed by Zooey Deschanel, along with her She & Him partner, M. Ward – the song that plays over the closing credits is a particular highlight. Similarly, the Backson song is excellent and extremely catchy.

The animation is crisply drawn and pleasing to look at (even if you find yourself longing for E.H. Shepard's original illustrations) and at least Disney have ditched their infuriating extra characters from the previous films.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that, like all the Disney Pooh movies, it completely misses the humour, warmth and intelligence that made Milne's original stories so charming in the first place. Instead it dumbs down all the characters to the point where most of them (Piglet and Tigger in particular) are just plain annoying.

Worth seeing?
Winnie the Pooh is beautifully animated and the songs are superb, but it fails to capture the charm of Milne's work and Pooh purists of a certain age may find themselves wishing they were watching Willie Rushton reading the stories on Jackanory instead.

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Content updated: 23/10/2017 00:02

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