Winnie The Pooh

In an era of hyperactive, overly verbal 3-D animated entertainment, I hope there is still room for a film as sweet and gentle as Winnie the Pooh. At the screening I attended it seemed like the young adults in the audience were enjoying it even more than the kids, reliving their childhood memories of the “stubby little cubby” and his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Cartoon fans will also rejoice in a film that celebrates the art of classical Disney-style animation as this one does. It represents what may be a “last hurrah” for this generation’s leading artists, including Dale Baer, Andreas Deja, Eric Goldberg, Randy Haycock, Mark Henn, and Bruce W. Smith, who comprise the team of supervising animators on this film. Story supervisor Burny Mattinson’s credits go back farther than anyone’s on this team. He even directed Mickey Mouse’s comeback vehicle—

—Mickey’s Christmas Carol in 1983. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall may be younger but they’ve been steeped in the Disney tradition and steered their film on the right path.

Winnie the Pooh generates smiles and chuckles from start to finish with its good-natured, episodic story of Pooh and friends going on a wild-goose chase to find a supposedly missing Christopher Robin. John Cleese provides the voice of the narrator, and taking a cue from Disney’s first Pooh movies, the format of the film is that of a storybook in which the characters occasionally interact with the typeface on the pages. Several engaging new songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, along with a featured piece by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (sung by Deschanel) complement the Sherman Brothers’ title tune and “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers.”

None of the original voice actors from the first Pooh cartoons are still alive, but their replacements (like Jim Cummings, who inherited the title role from veteran Sterling Holloway many years ago) do a fine job. Craig Ferguson is especially lively as Owl, who’s a bit more foolish than I remember the character being in earlier stories. But that’s a quibble.

Winnie the Pooh, which runs a mere 68 minutes (oh, joy!) is preceded by a delightful short-subject called The Ballad of Nessie, created by the same duo that brought us How to Hook Up Your Home Theater several years ago, Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton. Rendered in a vintage
or “retro” graphic style reminiscent of late-1950s Disney cartoons and narrated by the wonderful Billy Connolly, it offers a fanciful fable about the origin of the Loch Ness Monster. What a charmer!

Incidentally, if you do take your kids to see Winnie the Pooh, try to stay through the closing credits. Not only are there animated gags throughout featuring the main characters: there is a coda to the film itself that’s quite amusing.


  1. mike schlesinger says:

    Leonard, everything you say about this delightful film is spot-on, but I take exception on the running time. If you subtract NESSIE and the very lengthy credits, the movie actually runs only 52 or 53 minutes. At ticket prices these days, that’s kind of like going to a burger joint and getting only six or seven french fries.

  2. Allen Blank says:

    I haven’t seen this film yet, but want to, but something happened in this release that I’m afraid might be politics of the movie industry. Disney after the release of “Home On The Range” decided to do away with hand drawn films, then after the merger with Pixar they decided to return to hand drawn films with the release of “The Princess and the Frog.” But they in my opinion misshandled the release by first releasing it only in two theaters in the states, one in New York and one in LA, with the release came the reviews of the film which were very favorable. Then two weeks later it was widely released at the same time of Alvin and Chipmucks 2, which had bigger hype, plus by this time the moviegoing public have forgot the good reviews that Princess had. Also the release had less hype that Chipmunks had. That to me was the reason that Princess didn’t do that well in the boxoffice, not that it’s main character was a girl so the boys wouldn’t go or that moviegoers only want computer generated animated films and not hand-drawn.

    Now they released their second-drawn film since reviving the process and release it when, the same day as the much awaited and overhyped last Harry Potter film. What were they thinking, who would go to “Winnie The Pooh” when Harry Potter’s last film was released. Not many people and that’s why it hasn’t done too well. But by releasing this film at this time, it seems that Disney wants this film to fail so they can once again do away with hand-drawn animated films and just make computer generated animation films from here on. Does anyone else agree with me on this?

  3. Gerald says:

    I agree with Mr. Maltin’s review completely. Let me begin my saying that I do not subscribe to cable TV and generally avoid pop culture movies and pop culture in general. Instead, I enjoy books and obscure films, art-films and foreign films. From such a vantage point, when coerced into screening a Pixar film I am overwhelmed with Pixar’s hyper-verbal style and I even get motion sickness from the hyper-activity of their films. It was reaffirming for me that a hand-drawn animated film could stand on it’s own in 2011 with nothing more than a sweet story. I was moved by the simplicity of the story, the extremely high production standards Disney brought in both the animation and the musical score. I close Quoting Mr. Maltin who said it best: “In an era of hyperactive, overly verbal 3-D animated entertainment, I hope there is still room for a film as sweet and gentle as Winnie the Pooh”. Thank you Leonard.

  4. rich says:

    I am all for kids movies, and i don’t even have any kids. Cars and Cars 2 were awesome! So was Poppers penguins, Yogi Bear. Me and my wife can spend Hours watching cartoons, too, like Tom, and Jerry, Road Runner, Huckleberry Hound, Yogi, the regular Pooh cartoons, etc..real old school Beautiful cartoons. This movie didn’t do it for me though. The story didnt make sense, Owl, who Should Be Wise wasn’t, they were too hung up on a mispronunciation, and the story went nowhere. Also, if i am Paying $11, I expect a movie Over 1 Hour, For Crying Out Loud! I have seen many wonderful children’s movies, and actually prefer them to adult’s movies (I Know, Im strange)…but sadly, this wasn’t one of them…….a kid at heart

  5. Scott says:

    A couple of things bug me about this. First of all, why is the film so generically titled? No subtitle? Just plain old “Winnie The Pooh”? I mean, how many films have been done about this beloved character? Couldn’t all those involved have bothered to put in a subtitle, say “Winnie The Pooh: The Search For Christopher Robin” (yes, I know, that movie’s been done already) or something to that effect in order to be distinguished from all the rest of the Pooh films? Seems a bit lazy and arrogant to me.

    Plus, aren’t Zooey Deschanel & M.(Matthew) Ward still collectively known as She & Him? If so, then why aren’t they credited as such? Makes no sense at all.

    Now for the positive side: it is wonderful to see the Disney studios going back to the very thing they are best at: good ol’ hand-drawn animation! Oh, how I’ve missed you!:P Seriously though, the CGI stuff is beginning to wear thin on me, and it’s great to see the old style come back. I truly hope that hand-drawn animation will never become a “lost art”, as it is still being proven (not often enough) that it’s a viable art form, which, when done right, can still be captivating, entertaining and be absolutely beautiful. Long may it live!

  6. MICHAEL LEE says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and appreciated the short run time because if it ran like a regular movie did I think the jokes would of gone stale. Hope to see you at a couple for screenings Mr. Maltin

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