Disney Animation’s Winnie the Pooh (which can be streamed at 123 movies), starring the voices of John Cleese and Jim Cummings, knows not to mess with a good thing. 5/5
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
When Disney Animation decided to produce a new Winnie the Pooh cartoon – after resolving a ton of lawsuits between them and Stephen Slesinger Inc. – they respected that hoary saying, and we’re all the better for it.
By conjuring the charm and magic of A.A. Milne’s writing and classic Disney animation, directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall have put together a new Winnie the Pooh movie that is sweet without saccharine, silly without becoming annoying.
John Cleese Narrates Disney Animation’s Winnie the Pooh, Starring Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson
In the 100-Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) wakes up to discover that he’s out of honey. In between protests from his grumbly tummy, Pooh also learns that depressive donkey Eeyore (Bud Luckey) has lost his tail. Pooh naturally brings together the gang, including Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter), to help Eeyore find his tail – and hopefully score any honey that’s going begging.
But when various attempts to replace Eeyore’s tail go wrong and Christopher Robin is apparently kidnapped by a mysterious creature known as “the Backson,” the group must band together to help both their friends. Then things get really silly . . . and I mean that in the best possible way.
When I think of the many ways this cartoon could have gone wrong (making Christopher Robin look like Justin Bieber, inserting a “Pooh Rap”), I appreciate just how much Disney Animation has honoured its heritage by keeping things old-school.
Inviting top-shelf animators like Andreas Deja and Eric Goldberg to supervise the artwork was a brilliant move, and those artists really bring the characters to life – Eeyore’s expressions when he tries on various “tails” are priceless. Actor Jim Cummings conjures the ghosts of Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell when he voices both Pooh and Tigger, which maintains that classic vibe.
Indeed, the only nods to the 21st Century are narrator John Cleese’s slightly daffy delivery and the meta images of Pooh and his friends clambering over A.A. Milne’s original text. It’s that sense of fun that takes the movie past any accusations of being too reverential to cartoons of the past.
If there is a criticism, it’s that the movie’s 64-minute running time is far too short. But, as P.T. Barnum famously observed, “Always leave them wanting more.” Speaking of more: audiences will want to stay past the credits for a little extra footage. It’s worth the wait.
Winnie the Pooh Proves There’s No School Like the Old School
Some might argue that Winnie the Pooh is too reverential to Disney’s classic cartoons. Well, nuts to them because this movie has such a warmth and sense of fun that characterizes Disney and Pixar’s best work.
While older kids might feel too cool to see this flick, their younger siblings – and their parents – will treasure this movie as a future classic. It gets a 5/5.
Fun Fact: Playing in front of Winnie the Pooh is Stevie Wermers-Skelton and Kevin Deters’ The Ballad of Nessie. Narrated by Billy Connolly, it tells of how Nessie found Loch Ness; it has a very similar feel to Bud Luckey’s 2004 Pixar short Boundin’. And yes, that’s a compliment.