This is not a kiddie movie - I think it's something everyone can enjoy. I'm a male, college-age athlete, and this was far and away my favorite movie of the year.
Originally Posted by JerrodDRagon
Those are my feelings in a nutshell. If you don't mind reading a wall of text, I've written a full review. There are some spoilers, but I've concealed them.
I've been looking forward to Winnie the Pooh all year. Despite all the buildup I had done in my mind, Winnie the Pooh delivered in spades and even exceeded expectations to become, as of now and most likely for good, the best movie of 2011 - a cinematic year in which, despite the reams of garbage that have been produced, I've throughly enjoyed every film I've taken the time to see in theaters, especially Rango and On Stranger Tides.
What I liked most of all was the humor. Winnie the Pooh was hilarious throughout the entire film and hysterical in some parts. The carefree, charming comic style perfectly recalls the spirit of the original featurettes, and I was highly amused by all the wordplay, one-liners (especially Eeyore’s deadpan comments and Owl’s not-so-highbrow meanderings), and physical humor. Of course the usual suspects, Pooh, Eeyore, and Tigger, were on the top of their comic game. Owl, Rabbit, and Piglet had me in stitches a few times,
especially during the scene where they all got stuck in the hole, which was also the funniest scene in the movie
. The aggregate of these elements helped produce a hilarious film that makes this film, more than any other element, a worthy entry into the Pooh franchise. The witty writing, more than anything else, makes this movie resonate with adults. This is perhaps the strongest testament to the quality of the work: adults' positive impressions of this film won’t be skewed by rose-colored nostalgia, but there is genuine, transcendent humor that allows the film to succeed independently of the original cartoons and stand on its own merits.
For the sake of brevity and completeness, I’ll give a general compliment to all of the voice actors for this film before highlighting my favorites. They demonstrated deep understanding of their characters and imparted the proper tone, cadence, and timing into their every line. Particularly noteworthy were the performances of Bud Luckey as Eeyore and Craig Ferguson as Owl. Ferguson captured perfectly Owl’s eccentricity and slight imperiousness. A Bud Luckey vocal performance always makes a movie that much more marvelous, and hearing Bud voice my favorite Pooh character is doubly marvelous. His voice is perfect for the role.
The lush watercolor backgrounds and xerography motif faithfully recreate the Hundred Acre Wood that I loved from the original featurettes.
The chalk drawing sequence and Pooh's hallucination were clever, engaging ways of conveying the narrative in those particular scenes
. It would have been all for naught without the vivacious and expressive character animation that we’ve come to expect from Disney and Pixar. Just so I don’t feel like I’ve left anyone out before mentioning specifics, I’d like to compliment all of the supervising animators for their brilliant artwork. In particular, Dale Baer’s facial expressions for Owl nicely compliment the vocal performance to accentuate the character’s charming, idiosyncratic personality. Eric Goldberg’s work is always a feast for the eyes. The comedy intrinsic to his style is evident in Rabbit’s memorable poses, expressions, and movements, particularly when
the character leads the backson hunt
. Eeyore is also the beneficiary of animation that noticeably compliments the vocal performance, courtesy of Randy Haycock, but the work he does when the character is not speaking is more important. The amusing expressions he gives Eeyore are highly communicative of his thoughts. My favorite example is
the “Holy crap” look he dons during the “It’s Gonna Be Great” number with Tigger
And speaking of songs, the music in this film is superb. One would have never guessed that the Sherman Brothers did not do the songs if one had not been privy to that information beforehand. That is to the movie’s credit. I find it amusing that one of the co-creators of Avenue Q was picked for this project, but Robert Lopez and his wife were precisely the right people for this job. All of the songs make commendable additions to the Pooh songbook. Catchy melodies and whimsical lyrics abound. These tunes seamlessly integrate into the well-established atmosphere of the Pooh series. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, but I would like to mention
that I liked the use of “The Winner Song” as a bit of recursive humor
. Zooey Deschanel’s voice is well-suited to the types of songs in which she features. Her folksy rendition of the Pooh theme song is very pleasant. And last, but not least, Henry Jackman’s score exquisitely evokes the carefree essence of the Hundred Acre Wood.
This film is short, but the length perfectly suits the material. There is no filler to make the film longer. Every moment in this film brims with humor and heart. Of course one might crave more just because the movie is so good, but to add more would be unnecessary and risk blemishing something that is already perfect. This movie is rather like Dumbo: short, sweet, masterful.
The film’s tone accurately recalls the joyful, happy-go-lucky feel of the original featurettes, and that is a very good thing. I appreciate the conscious effort by the filmmakers to keep the tone light throughout the duration. There is no forced, uncharacteristic melodrama or angst to damper the proceedings. When used prudently, these elements form an integral part to the success of many films that I love, but these are not prerequisites for high artistic caliber in cinema. Indeed, Winnie the Pooh is a movie of high artistic caliber. The filmmakers did not morph Pooh into something humorless and unfamiliar by trying to blow it up into something epic, something edgy, or a cynical send-up of the originals. I’m very grateful that they stayed true to the elements that make Pooh successful: sincere charm and simple fun.
1000000/10, A++++, Six stars out of four…no rating scale can contain the greatness of this movie. Winnie the Pooh truly is something special to have left such an impression on me. Go see it. You’ll be glad you did (and it could use all the help it can get at the box office against the Harry Potter finale). See it twice and tell your friends – it’s well worth repeat viewings, and that’s something I plan to do sooner rather than later.
P.S. The Ballad of Nessie was a cute, little treat. Make sure you get to the theater early so that you don't miss it!