Disney Animated Marathon: Winnie The Pooh (2011)

Film #52 in the Disney Animated Marathon may be short on run time, but it’s long on simple pleasures!

Story By: Stephen J. Anderson, Clio Chiang, Don Dougherty, Don Hall, Kendelle Hoyer, Brian Kesinger, Nicole Mitchell, & Jeremy Spears
Directed By: Stephen J. Anderson & Don Hall

Right before the American release of Winnie The Pooh I was involved in a couple of different debates about the film. Both debates revolved around the same topic, the length of the film. There were some who argued that a film that only clocked in at two minutes over an hour long (including a lengthy end credit crawl) was not worth the price of a ticket to an American movie theater these days. In both debates I was the voice on the other side of the fence. Quality was my weapon of choice, what mattered, I said in both discussions, was the quality of the film, not its length. If the Walt Disney corporation was delivering a product that was of a certain high quality then it would certainly be worth the price of my ticket. I never did get to see Winnie The Pooh in the theater, I often find myself far too busy to make it out to the theater nowadays. As I settled in with my family to watch Disney’s fifty-first animated feature, on glorious Blu-Ray no less, I wondered what quality would await me?

Within minutes I knew I was watching something special in Winnie The Pooh. It wasn’t a boisterous production or a flashy work. No, the Mouse has delivered a different beast altogether. Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall, and a bevy of writers have produced a film that is about the simple pleasures of the company of good friends. In this case those friends can be your real friends, but they can also be your favorite books, the imaginary characters that inhabited your brain space as a child, and so on. As Winnie, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, and the rest of the gang occupy the screen their easy going adventures drew me in effortlessly. There’s a feeling, that I find hard to describe, where everything falls into place. You feel completely at home with what you are experiencing, you know that you are in safe hands. That’s the feeling I had with Winnie The Pooh, and it was a very welcome feeling.

I was reminded of the works of Hayao Miyazaki, specifically his Tonari No Totoro, while watching Winnie The Pooh. The correlation came to me in the form of the films ability to take the simplest route possible on every level. There is no real threat in Winnie The Pooh. There’s no driving tension or looming danger on the horizon. There are, however, simple pleasures to be found in Winnie The Pooh. There are funny jokes, wonderful fourth wall moments, and sense of imagination at play that is mesmerizing. In its desire to be simple Winnie The Pooh wastes no time in being the movie it needs to be and wants to be. It cuts straight to the core idea of friendship, of being at home with those around you. Misters Anderson and Hall don’t manufacture drama or insert maudlin moments. They allow their characters to inhabit the world that has been created for them in such a natural way that I found it impossible to not be engaged throughout the film.

I didn’t think I would be calling Winnie The Pooh one of the funniest movies of the year. I had an inkling that its animation was going to be great, and the film certainly delivered on that aspect. I expected to enjoy myself, but to laugh as much as I did, no way. Whether it was the constant state of depression that Eeyore suffered from, the endless anxiety of Piglet, or the witty back and forth banter between Pooh and the narrator I found myself laughing. Winnie The Pooh doesn’t set out to bust your gut, but by being honest to its characters and the roots of its world the humor comes naturally and the laughter was quite loud on my end.

Winnie The Pooh looks gorgeous, it’s funny, and it’s a deliciously told and well crafted story. I paid retail price for this Blu-Ray. And with the feature clocking in at two minutes over an hour (including a not so lengthy but very funny end credit crawl) and full disclosure of the fact that I’m not really a DVD/BD extra features sort of guy, Winnie The Pooh was worth every penny. I need quality for my money, not quantity. Winnie The Pooh provided a movie experience of the quality that is only seen in the best of films.

Rating:

****

Cheers,
Bill

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9 responses to “Disney Animated Marathon: Winnie The Pooh (2011)

  1. It definitely told the story it set out to tell in that shorter amount of time as well. I found it enjoyable enough that I didn’t even truly notice that it was shorter because it left me feeling truly satisfied!

  2. I wasn’t part of that debate (if you’re talking about the one that occurred at Filmspotting). Even now though, i don’t know exactly where I stand. There is something about going to the movies that for me means I should be seeing something a little bigger, a little better, a little longer (even) than what could have easily been shown on television, which is the vibe I get when I read up on this ‘Winnie The Pooh’ movie. On the flip side, if it’s good then it’s good and that’s what matters most. I don’t know…

    So, you upgraded to Blu-ray. This is excellent news! You may know that I’m a huge fan of the format for its abilities to do the very best job possible at presenting films as was originally intended in terms of picture and sound quality, although I stress the ‘best job POSSIBLE’ since nothing beats the old theatre.
    Go go out and buy ‘Alien’, ‘Raging Bull’ and a personal favourite of yours, ‘Avatar’ if you want to be blown away in your living room.

  3. Sarah- Yep, I was very satisfied when this movie was over, and you can’t beat that.

    Edgar- As my review highlighted, quality is what matters the most to me. I’m not opposed to others valuing more quantity for their money, but it’s not the course of action for me.

    And yeah buddy, I’ve been upgraded to BD for a bit now. It is a great format, although I have yet to get a lot of BD pictures. I’m looking forward to checking out a bunch though, including the ones you suggested. ūüôā

  4. I think if I had seen WtP in the theatres I would have been disappointed. Less about the length, and more on the quality. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time with WtP, but that as much as it strove for the quality of the earlier shorts, it didn’t quite make it. For one, the songs were of lesser quality (of course, they had to be, because the Sherman Bros. weren’t writing them). But, in fact, the film was TOO long. They took a Pooh story that would have normally been told in 20-30 minutes and stretched it out to twice the time. It had all the charms of the earlier shorts, but not more than them, but added twice the time. I enjoyed the film, but I think it could have been trimmed more– if nothing else, the songs could have been shorter.

    Oh well, at least we’ve got the real Pooh back again, complete with the charm, the breaking of the fourth wall, and the sly humor. How wonderful.

  5. Funnily enough I enjoyed this Pooh more than I did the shorts I have seen, which admittedly aren’t many.

  6. I, too, was surprised by how funny the film was. The writers did a great job of making some hilarious jokes for both adults and kids. Easily the smartest animated film I saw last year. I’m disappointed by how overlooked the film was. Hopefully, people will return to it now that it’s on DVD and they can set aside the silly argument of the length of the film.

  7. I’m hoping for much the same thing. There should be a much larger audience out there for a film of this quality form a major studio like Disney. Hopefully in the years to come more people will watch this version of Winnie the Pooh and fall in love with its charm and wit.

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