Tuesday 21 January 2014

Munir’s Disney Retrospective - Animated Classic #51: Winnie the Pooh (2011)

Last Week’s: Munir’s Disney Retrospective - Animated Classic #50: Tangled (2010).

After the big spectacles that The Princess and the Frog and Tangled were, I was genuinely surprised that Disney chose to do a Pooh film. The last Pooh feature done by Disney Animation was The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh back in 1977 and it was a compilation of previously done shorts. I've never been much of a Pooh fan and, outside of Many Adventures, I never cared for any of its other incarnations as most of them tended to be kid-exclusive. I went to see Winnie the Pooh with a bit of trepidation but I came out utterly enchanted by its disarming charm.

In this day and age of big animated blockbusters full of action and frenzy scenes, it was quite a breath of fresh air to see a film that isn't interested in bombarding the audience with mayhem, but rather letting them relax and have a good time with very endearing characters. In the years after Many Adventures, Pooh & Co. have been huge for the Disney Company, spanning lots of TV series and films throughout the coming decades. Unfortunately, after each incarnation, something started to get lost and Pooh began to be just kiddie-fare material until the dreadful Disney Jr. series My Friends Tigger and Pooh, which was even done completely in CG, changing the essence of the characters. Fortunately, directors Don Hall and Stephen Anderson, and executive producer John Lasseter, returned Pooh to its roots, making the new film not only more faithful to A.A. Milne's writings, but also to the classic 1977 film.

Winnie the Pooh tells a series of adventures that Pooh and his friends have in the Hundred Acre Wood. To tell you the whole story would spoil the great experience of the film for you. The characters are very endearing and you can't help but smile every time you see them. The voice cast is superb as they sound very faithful to the original, while also imprinting their own identity to the roles. The writing is great as there are many witty jokes that not only appeal to kids but will also make adults laugh.

The songs, composed by the duo of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, (better known for their great work in Disney's current hit: Frozen) are very clever and retain the wit that the Sherman brothers imparted in the 1977 film. Many of the songs like "The Backson Song" and "Everything is Honey" are particular highlights of the soundtrack.

The animation is simply superb. The traditional animation is simple yet colourful, and gentle, making it a perfect complement to the story. "The Backson Song" and "Everything is Honey" sequences are beautifully done imbued with a great style and wonderful character animation.

Of all the films in this Revival Era, the one that you probably missed is Winnie the Pooh. Well, there's no time like the present to remedy that, as Winnie the Pooh is an utterly charming and beautifully animated film that will disarm every member of the family with its endearing characters and sweet story. Winnie the Pooh may not be a blockbuster but it's the underrated gem of the era. A must-see for everyone! Rating: 4.5/5.

Next Week - Animated Classic #52 Review: Wreck-It Ralph (2012).

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