Releasing at that awkward point after childhood but before nostalgia trips were accessible to my sinking mind, Winnie the Pooh was lost on me. Oh, bother, indeed. That fuzzy yellow freak would attest to my grievances, but spurred on by a crying fit whilst watching Christopher Robin, I was worried Disney had indeed either broken my brain or tapped into a small pocket of it that was still administering emotional reactions to fragments of my childhood. From those lovely, chirpy opening notes that follow the initial narration from John Cleese, Winnie the Pooh is barely an hour-long, yet has the gall to present itself in a chapter format.
Bold that may be of directing pair Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, it is certainly warranted. They use the book format of presentation to an effective advantage. Cleese’s narration converses with Pooh (Jim Cummings) and breaks the fourth wall in immediately promising and comfortable forms. Shaking the book to wake Pooh up is the exact form of comedy that can appeal to young audiences who will enjoy the unconventional nature, and to adults who will revel in the niceties and spectacle of such flagrant joy. There is a fine balance found here, between childishness and a sense of artistic honesty.
This blend makes for a delightful experience. While the lyrics of the musical moments tend to desire a bit more pump to their wordplay, it is the jolly, jovial melodies that lead Pooh through an adventure with his friends. His friends are depicted well, with all the gang joining for one or two moments in the spotlight. It is better managed than that of Christopher Robin and has the benefit of such charming, exceptional animation. It is a sudden return to the fantastic, hand-drawn qualities of the original pieces. While the CGI and live-action blend may have worked for the Ewan McGregor-starring piece, there is no beating the heart-warming animated antics of Pooh and the gang. Winnie the Pooh presents that well and coupled with the niceties of both soundtrack and narration, there is a cosy atmosphere created, one that lasts for much of the running time.
A wonderful animation style paves the way to success. Winnie the Pooh is comfortable, quick and leaves no mark on the mind. It ebbs away as soon as it finishes, the blanket it provides is warm yet thin. Eeyore has lost his tail, Tigger bounces his way through the forest, and Christopher Robin holds it all together as best he can. It is nice, jovial and good-natured entertainment. It is hard to pick a hole in it, although that feeling of nostalgia has now faded, and shall probably never return. I have now had my fill, and as satisfying as it was to return to the Hundred Acre Wood, I wouldn’t be too bothered if it burnt to the ground with all the honey shifted to a wholesale farmers market.