The most delightful and entertaining movie of the summer, so far, is Winnie the Pooh. It has, of course, been mostly overlooked. In part because it opened against the juggernaut that is the final Harry Potter film. The target demographics don’t quite overlap as they might have 7 Harry Potter’s ago, but then again; what demographic does Harry Potter not cover. Another reason for Winnie the Pooh’s lack of attention is sadly that it is a traditional, 2-D animated film, a creature that has not quite been driven to extinction in US cinemas but is certainly in the endangered species list. The decreasing frequency and increasing irrelevance of animated movies saddens me, and occasionally causes me to champion movies that aren’t actually very good just because I want more traditionally animated films (Hello, The Princess and the Frog). This is not the case with Winnie the Pooh. The characters that have charmed people for 80 or so years are captured here as well as they ever have been on film. Winnie the Pooh is a perfect children’s movie, and like the best children’s movies is not just for kids, but is enjoyable by all.
Winnie the Pooh follows the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood on several loosely connected adventures. Although Pooh doesn’t so much have adventures as he aimlessly, lethargically meanders through them. His friends are more energetic if not more intelligent and are, as they always are, fun to watch. Each of the characters have a primary trait — Pooh is hungry, Piglet is scared, Tigger is happy, etc. — but, though they are one-note, they feel well-rounded. This is a fun group to watch, as they always have been.
While most of Disney’s Pooh material has focused on the title character, Tigger, and Piglet, this movie shines the spotlight more evenly, with plenty of focus on Owl and Eeyore. Sure, Piglet and Tigger have their moments, as does the terrifically manic Rabbit, (Sadly Disney’s non-original addition Gopher is absent. I know he is a counterfeit Pooh character, but I like him all the same.) but Owl and Eeyore steal the show. Owl is the film’s unwitting villain, with his self-important attempts to play the wise old owl leading to all of the confusion, because he is only slightly more intelligent than Pooh. However, he does a good impersonation of intelligence and that is enough for the rest of the animals. Eeyore is the best part of every scene he is in. Nearly all of his lines are golden. He expects the world to crap on him and it obliges. His best line is near the end, when Pooh returns his tail and asks, “Are you happy now?” To which Eeyore deadpans “No. …But I do like this tail.” Happiness is not a possibility for Eeyore, just as it is impossible for Tigger to be calm or Pooh to be full.
There is no danger in the Hundred Acre Wood; there is barely any conflict at all. There is just Christopher Robin and his stuffed animal friends. The only reason the movie is able to amble along is from constant prodding from the narrator, who is shown to be telling the story and has to constantly fight to keep things on track. In the end, Winnie the Pooh is a delightful hour of fun cartoon. If you have young kids or fond memories of the characters from when you were a young kid yourself or if you have a soul and are capable of laughter go see this movie.