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‘Winnie the Pooh’ Review

In Movies on July 26, 2011 at 11:14 pm

by:  Mary Coan

Beware! There’s a bitter Betty on the loose. I’ll give you a hint: it’s me.

Someone has plucked my childhood from my memory, slapped it in the face, and returned it (now miffed) to my head. Maybe that’s not fair. Rather, what precious memories I have of traditional Winnie the Pooh have now been tainted. Winnie the Pooh, which skipped into theatres on July 15, is certainly no pot of honey. Just Pooh. Oh, and consider this your spoiler alert. I plan on spoiling very thoroughly.

Although I do not delude myself into thinking that children’s movies are a great source of thought-provoking imagery and themes, I had hoped for a bit more from Winnie the Pooh. The original shorts (Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, for example), provided more whimsy and entertainment than this latest installment, whose thinly stretched plot was centered around a misinterpreted note from Christopher Robin at the hands – or wings – of Owl, and the search for another tail for Eeyore (which, as it turns out, was also Owl’s fault). The film in its entirety was only 63 minutes, but that was plenty of time for me to really feel like slapping Owl silly. With 20 minutes left, an astute audience member a few rows ahead of me asked her mother, “Is it almost over?” I had been wondering the same thing.

Unavoidably, a whole crop of new voice actors were brought in for the film, as many stars of the Winnie the Pooh from yesteryear are now deceased: most notably the narrator, Sebastian Cabot (d. 1977) and original Pooh Sterling Holloway (d. 1992). John Cleese (Monty Python, Shrek) proves a lovely substitute for Cabot’s timeless rumble. Jim Cummings (the Princess and the Frog) doubles as a believable Pooh and Tigger duo, with occasional dips into Daffy-Duck lisps to supplement Tigger’s interesting dialect. However, save for Piglet (Travis Oates, Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too), the rest of the cast falls short when it comes to reviving the sentimental tones of the original cast. It seems that the soothing stories of my childhood have given way to a Disney ploy for a summertime paycheck.

Although John Lasseter’s executive producing resulted in gorgeous animation clearer than my own watched and re-watched original Pooh VHS tapes, Winnie the Pooh didn’t come close to meeting my expectations. As hard as it tried to tug at my heartstrings (so easily plucked by Pooh), Winnie the Pooh just didn’t make it: the best part was a shameless Indiana Jones joke. I think that sums up my disappointment pretty accurately.

Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars.

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