Winnie-the-Pooh, the character invented by A. A. Milne, is a continuing worldwide phenomenon that continues to this day. The success of "Winnie the Pooh" (2011), directed by Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, helped Walt Disney Animation Studios regain its footing after the near-disastrous 2000's, when its only true success was "Lilo & Stich." While not a smash hit at the box office, "Winnie the Pooh" helped restore peoples' faith in the Disney magic and was virtually assured of selling a ton of home videos for parents eager to entertain their toddlers.
|Owl and Tigger|
Picking up the characters from 1977's "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," "Winnie the Pooh" continued the return to hand-drawn animation begun with "The Princess and the Frog" to good effect, winning over critics with its traditional feel which, no doubt, probably reminded many of them of their own childhoods.
|John Cleese narrates from the book|
Pooh is out of honey, so he goes out to search for some. Eeyore, though, has lost his tail and needs to find a replacement. Together with Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo, Pooh decides to do something to help. Christopher Robin holds a contest to see who can replace the tail, the prize being a pot of fresh honey. They try various solutions, such as scarves and cuckoo clocks, but nothing is satisfactory to Eeyore.
|Christopher Robin addressing his friends|
When Pooh goes to visit Christopher Robin the next day, he finds a note saying that Robin is out and will be back later. Pooh can't read, so he asks Owl to help, but Owl can't read very well either. He tells Pooh that the note says that Robin has been kidnapped by the evil monster known as the "Backson." Eager to rescue Robin, Rabbit devises a plan to lure the Backson to a pit, into which they hope he will fall so they can trap him there. Tigger tries to teach Eeyore how to fight, and so dresses up like the Backson, but this scares Eeyore and he runs off and hides in the river.
|Pooh and Piglet|
Still looking for honey, Pooh stumbles into the pit meant to trap the Backson. He can't get out, so Kanga, Roo, Rabbit and Eeyore try to help him out. They, however, manage to fall into the pit themselves, with the anchor that Eeyore found underwater to replace his tail not helping matters. Piglet then tries to get everyone out, but he sees Tigger dressed as the Backson and flies in terror in a red balloon. The balloon knocks some of the storybook's letters into the pit. Tigger and Piglet then also wind up in the pit. Pooh finally comes up with a way to use the fallen storybook letters as a ladder for them all to climb out of the pit. Once they get out, they see Christopher Robin, who clarifies that he meant "back soon" and not "backson."
|Christopher Robin and his balloon|
Pooh finds out that Owl accidentally took Eeyore's tail, using it as part of his front door. Realizing that Eeyore needs the tail, Pooh leaves before eating any honey and returns the tail to Eeyore. Christopher Robin rewards Pooh by giving him a pot of fresh honey. After the film ends and the credits have run, it is revealed that the Backson does, indeed, exist. Rather than fearsome and malevolent, he is very nice and collects the lures left to trap him in the pit, intending to return them to their rightful owner, but falls into the pit himself. He waits patiently for a rescue, hoping that whoever lost the things will be "back soon."
|Kanga and Roo|
There still were Disney veterans from the Pooh shorts of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Bunny Mattinson, and they drew up the characters with an eye toward following in the footsteps of earlier Disney interpretations. The directors, Hall and Anderson, were old pros who had worked on numerous Disney animated feature films of the 2000s. Just as in "The Princess and the Frog," "Winnie the Pooh" uses the Toon Boom Animation Harmony software that enhances hand-drawn animation without replacing it.
|Rabbit and Piglet|
It probably isn't necessary to say that "Winnie the Pooh" is very kid-friendly, the younger the better. It features three stories by Milne, and is a very faithful adaptation. Short films with similar themes, "The Ballad of Nessie" and "Cubby's Goldfish," were shown with "Winnie the Pooh," making it an enjoyable experience for little children. For what it is, "Winnie the Pooh" delivers just what parents no doubt expect from a Disney Winnie the Pooh film, with a gentle plot and backgrounds painted in soothing watercolor tones assured of calming down even the most rambunctious of toddlers.
|Tigger having fun with Pooh|
The soundtrack songs by Robert and Kristen Lopez, score by Henry Jackman, is well-designed for children to enjoy and succeeds in that regard. The song "So Long" being nominated for a Grammy, and Zooey Deschanel sings the traditional "Winnie the Pooh" theme song.
|Pooh, his friends and the storybook letters|
The voice actors are all just what you would expect. Jim Cummings continues voicing Pooh and Tigger as he has since the 1980s, while Travis Oates does Piglet, Tom Kenny is Rabbit, Craig Ferguson gives Owl a Scottish flair, Bud Luckey is Eeyore, and Jack Boutler provides the voice of Christopher Robin. John Cleese narrates in fine fashion, and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who helped her husband with the soundtrack, provides the rare female voice as Kanga.
|A walk into the sunset after another successful day|
Some things in life are timeless. It's difficult to think of Winnie the Pooh ever going out of fashion for children in the proper age range. Taken together with "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh," "Winnie the Pooh" is a stellar choice for entertaining small children while also teaching them mild lessons about working together and not automatically assuming things about people because of their appearance. The animation of "Winnie the Pooh" is worlds better than that in earlier versions, and the film is a worthy addition to any Pooh library.
Below is the trailer from "Winnie the Pooh."