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.