The good news up front: the new WINNIE THE POOH isn't an all CGI-ed modernized re-imagining with pop culture references and big name celebrity voices. It's an old school hand-drawn throwback to Disney's classic '60s and '70s Pooh period, with a tasteful choice of un-imposing actors (narrator John Cleese and Craig Ferguson as Owl are the most recognizable names here), and a light infectious sense of whimsy.
The bad news is that its so slight it could get blown away by a gentle breeze.
A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh ,Tigger (both voiced by Jim Cummings), Rabbit (Tom Kenney), Piglet (Travis Oates), Owl, Eeyore (Bud Luckey), Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez), and Roo (Wyatt Dean Hall), mistakenly think a note from their best human friend, schoolboy Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) is stating that he was captured by a Backson.
Robin wrote "back soon" you see and somehow the cuddly gang concocts an evil dangerous monster of the woods that they must capture if they want to rescue.
Easy mistake to make, right?
The characters are all well played as they get in such predicaments as getting trapped in a pit they dug to catch the creature, bickering with humorous disconnected dialogue, but such scenes still feel sketchy.
Pooh isn't a very interesting protagonist as he only cares about finding honey (or "huny" as its often spelled in the film), and his comical air-headed demeanor wears out its welcome early on. Still, there is a neat honey fantasy sequence that is one of the movie's highlights.
The directors, Anderson and Hall along with almost another dozen of writers worked on the story, and there are 18 songs (several featuring Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward), so it's surprising that it's only a little over an hour long. To somewhat make up for that there is a animated short "The Ballad Of Nessie", about the Loch Ness monster, narrated by Billy Connolly, which isn't bad.
Take note that WINNIE THE POOH is a film that will most likely please toddlers much more than older kids, but some nostalgic parents may appreciate its charms. If you do take the kids, stay through the end credits because there's a final bonus bit that shouldn't be missed.
With a film this short and slight, you should definitely get your moneys worth.
Daniel Cook Johnson
The Rialto, Raleigh, NC 11/22/16. Photo credit: Jennifer Love
Film Babble Blog is written, produced and directed by: Daniel Cook Johnson - A Triangle area, N.C. based writer. His work has appeared in The Chapel Hill News, The Raleigh News & Observer, and Independent Weekly.