WINNIE THE POOH
Review by Mark Wiechman
Stars: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Peter Cullen, John
Cleese, Bud Luckey
Directors: Don Hall, Stephen J. Anderson
Audio: DTS 5.1
Video: Animated Color Widescreen
Features: See Review
Length: 63 Minutes plus Special Features
Release Date: October 25, 2011
With so many pointless remakes and sequels these days, it is nice to see modern technology being used to revive a classic while staying true to the original cinematic release. Winnie the Pooh moves at a steady pace and uses modern animation techniques to put a new coat of paint on a childhood favorite. I have seen several DVD-only releases of other Pooh tales and a few television specials featuring Pooh and crew and none of them were half as good as the original theatrical release of 1966. But as we watch A.A. Milne’s text spilling out on the screen with the characters interacting, it is obvious from the beginning that the studio took the time to make sure this adventure with our favorite “bear of little brain” was true to the original book.
I first met Pooh when my educator father brought home a copy that was being discarded by the library. It is almost as though we are reading the book and it suddenly comes to life with excellent narration from John Cleese and featuring great voices from Craig Ferguson (Owl) and Jim Cummings (Pooh). In this tale, Pooh actually gets to be the hero for once, discovering what happened to Eyore’s missing tail even though none of the others, who all claim to be the smart ones, have no idea what happened. Pooh is not really a troublemaker like so many Disney characters, but rather a simple bear who loves honey too much. But he seems to care more about his friends than anything else, and takes action to help rather than prattle on like so many typical characters do.
One of the surprisingly good sparks for the movie comes in the form of several new songs sung by Indie Rocker Zooey Deschanel and six other new songs by Bobby Lopez and his wife Kristen (Lopez wrote the songs for the award winners “Book of Mormon” and “Avenue Q” for Broadway).
Probably the film’s only shortcoming is that it is kind of short, not even quite an hour without the credits, but this DVD/Blu-Ray set does have some wonderful extras to make up for that…see below…
Somehow the animators have managed to make the backgrounds seem classic but the animation is clearly modern and smooth as glass throughout. No artifacts or problems.
While the rear channels are not used as much as I would like, the mix of music and dialogue is excellent.
The DVD contains additional mini-movies including “Mini-Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: The Balloon; “The Ballad of Nessie”; and deleted scenes introduced by the directors.
The Blu-Ray has these features and more, including “Winnie the Pooh and His Story Too” which is a great behind-the-scenes special and explains his history from the original book through the present. There is also a “Sing Along With the Movie” feature with seven songs that have you follow a dancing red balloon, and separate versions of seven songs from the film including the immortal theme song.
Bravo to Disney for an excellent new Pooh tale! If you want to spend an hour with old friends having a great adventure in the Hundred Acre Wood, pop in this excellent DVD or Blu-Ray get re-acquainted.