Winnie the Pooh (2011)
By: WonkotheSane (A Toast) -
The Walt Disney Company should be applauded for the chutzpah it must take to market this as a children’s film. Recovering from his most recent bender, Winnie the Pooh wakes up one morning to find his stash depleted. Desperate for a fix, and without any money, he wanders around the homes of his friends in fruitless search of something, anything that can relieve the tension. Over time he becomes increasingly caught up in his self deluded fantasies, and starts to come unglued. As it turns out, his friends are at best enablers, and at worst heroin users themselves. The promise of getting high is offered in exchange for accompanying the group to catch an evil red-haired dragon.
Played by Ellen Burstyn
Jared Leto delivers a heartbreaking performance as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, culminating in a disturbing suicide scene in which…
We apologize for the sudden break in the review, but have just been made aware that Movieboozer staff writer WonkotheSane did not actually watch Winnie the Pooh as instructed, but rather fell asleep halfway through a late night viewing of Requiem for a Dream (and all the way through a bottle of Wild Irish Rose). Fortunately one of our other staff writers did occasion to see the film this morning, what follows is his hastily written review.
3D CGI based animated films have become so much the norm these days that it is hard to remember once upon a time when animators would sit for hours, pencil in hand and drawing frame-by-frame the movies which would define our childhood. Indeed, ever since Pixar Studio’s fantastic success of Toy Story in 1995, it has become increasingly difficult for a traditionally animated film to find the same massive audience. I doubt whether Winnie The Pooh is going to change that trend, but for those of you looking for a marvelously entertaining and nostalgic experience, this might be the film you’ve been waiting for.
The setting is no different from the other A.A. Milne penned stories set in the hundred acre wood. Winnie the Pooh is still the honey guzzling, dim-witted buffoon, Eeyore is still clinically depressed, and Tigger is still bouncing off more walls than Andy Dick on crystal meth.
Which was thankfully cut from the final version of the film
Going into the story is not necessary, because the fun of the film comes from the interactions of these creative, silly creatures, all of whom are blissfully ignorant and treat simple tasks as epic quests.
What sets this film apart from other child-oriented films is the cleverly written dialog and skillful comic timing. One scene in particular where the gang are trapped in a deep pit, and with only timid little piglet to save them, stands out. You’ve never seen so many masterful ways to fail at a rescue.
Much like the classic Winnie the Pooh theatrical shorts, each turn of events is represented by a move to the next page. It’s narrated by the venerable John Cleese and boasts a fantastic voice cast, who thankfully were chosen less for celebrity status and more for their vocal performance. Craig Ferguson provides a hilariously eccentric turn as Owl, Jim Cummings is pitch-perfect as both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, and Bud Luckey’s Eeyore is an excellent fit.
The music is generally light hearted and fun and the songs are thankfully short. I’m not a fan of musicals, but I can honestly say I enjoyed myself even during these sequences… maybe because Zooey Deschanel performs many of the songs.
I’d show her my hundred acre wood (ifyouknowhatimean)
Now, it is worth noting that this film does not contain adult oriented double entendres, pop-culture references, or dance party music numbers. The world of Winnie the Pooh is all about childhood imagination, and so it must be appreciated on that same level. The film doesn’t lower itself to a child’s intelligence level either, as that would be cheap pandering. Instead it chooses to seek out the child in every viewer. To children the experience is like being at play, and to adults it is a reminder of what it once was like to play alone in the backyard.
Alas, we didn’t all have backyards…
Refreshingly simple, endlessly clever family entertainment.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever they break out into song
Take a Drink: for any instance of word confusion, or puns
Down a Shot: anytime Pooh gets some honey
The credits themselves have funny animated hijinks throughout, but stay after they end for an extra little surprise.