Title: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Release Date: March 11, 1977
Director: John Lounsbery & Wolfgang Reitherman
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions
I’m surprised that I’ve never reviewed this movie before because I put it on a lot for the kids when they were little. Granted, I did often use that time to take a nap on the couch, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the adventures of Pooh and his friends. I’m a fan of A.A. Milne’s classic books and the movie is not exactly a great adaptation. And yet it ends up being great in it’s own way, even with the parts that are “not in the book.’
I love the voice work of Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell. I love the songs by the Sherman Brothers. I love the way the characters interact with the pages of the book. I love the way that Owl’s house sways in the wind. I love the drug trip of “Heffalumps and Woozles.” I love the bee that laughs at Pooh.
It’s amazing that one of Disney’s most consistent films is actually an anthology consisting of three shorts made over the course of a decade.
Author: Benjamin Hoff
Title: The Tao of Pooh
Narrator: Simon Vance
Publication Info: Tantor Audio, 2012 (originally published in 1982)
I read the writings of Lao Tzu and A.A. Milne for the first time when I was in college. I read this book too, which tied all those things together. And since I loved all of what I read this became one of my favorite books. As I’m periodically trying to revisit some of my favorite books of all time as audiobook, I listened to this version charmingly narrated by Simon Vance.
My impression is that while it is stil a good book, it really feels like the type of book someone in college would ascribe a lot more value too, if that makes any sense. Through the characters of the 100 Acres Wood, Hoff ably introduces the basic concepts of Taoist philosophy, and through Taoist philosophy he also introduces the basic characteristics of Winnie the Pooh. It’s an entertaining portal to these concepts that is worth reading, or listening to, even if just maybe it’s not one of the greatest books of all time.
Title: Christopher Robin
Release Date: August 3, 2018
Director: Marc Forster
Production Company: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Out of a love of Pooh and a curious nature, I decided to watch Disney’s
latest cash grab loving live-action tribute to the classic animated Winnie the Pooh films. Here is a story of a beloved character from a children’s story growing up and finding himself so entangled in the adult responsibilities of work that he is unable to form a relationship with his child. That is, until the beloved – seemingly imaginary – characters of his childhood enter his real life and help him rediscover joy in life and connect with his own child. Yes, this is the plot of the 1991 blockbuster Hook.
To be fair, while I hated Hook, and it rankles me that the creators of Christopher Robin couldn’t come up with a different and better plot, I find it a relatively more enjoyable film. While Hook was abrasive in its winking references, Christophe Robin is sweet and gentle, as it should be. And to be fair to Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), he’s working too hard not because he’s an egotistical workaholic but because his lazy, affluent boss (Mark Gattis, who seems to be typecast in these roles) will fire all the employees if Robin can’t find a way to balance the budget.
The movie’s tone is very melancholy, and even the color palette seems drained. The filmmakers even cast the great Hayley Atwell as Christopher’s wife and then hardly used her, which feels wasteful. Pooh and friends are the best part of the movie, and while this is “live-action,” they are animated with CGI. You wouldn’t know it though, as they look like they could be puppets right down to detail of their fuzzy fur (Owl & Rabbit, who are not based on toys, are depicted as anthropomorphic versions of a real owl and rabbit). McGregor plays the surreal scenes of interacting with toys and animals in the 100 Acres Wood well. And it’s cute that Pooh & Co. not only bring Robin closer his daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael), but they also solve his problem at work.
It’s just a shame that this slight, charming film couldn’t have been truer to the spirit of its source material. It could’ve been so much more.
Title: Winnie the Pooh
Release Date: July 15, 2011
Director: Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures
Winnie the Pooh returns to the big screen for another adventure inspired by A.A. Milne’s original works in which the denizens of Hundred Acre Woods believe that Christopher Robin is abducted by a monster called the Backson. The hand-drawn animation style is modeled on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, complete with the visual pun of the characters interacting with the story book letters and pages. In many ways, though, this movie feels like a reboot more than a sequel. By necessity, the character’s voices are very different and the music is sung by Zooey Deschanel. Other aspects of the movie take on a modern sensibility. All that being said, it’s a wonderfully enjoyable story involving Pooh and Friends, albeit one that’s too short.
In Disney’s Winnie the Pooh oeuvre, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is officially an animated feature, although it’s also a collection of previously released short films. The Tigger Movie, Piglet’s Big Movie, and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie were all made by Disneytoon Studios, which specialized in direct-to-video sequels, but got theatrical release. There are additional Pooh movies that were only DTV. And Christopher Robin is a live-action sequel to all of this. Winnie the Pooh is officially the only movie that’s considered an animated feature alongside The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, although it’s only an hour-long and the story is slight. It’s not bad by any stretch of the animation, I just want more of it than what we got.
Author: A.A. Milne
Title: Winnie the Pooh
Narrator: Peter Dennis
Publication Info: Blackstone Audio, Inc., 2005
I listened to this audiobook on a recent road trip with my children. It had been a long time since I read Milne’s book with many viewings of Disney’s The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the intervening years. The surprising thing for me is just how much of the dialogue for the film is taken right from the book. Of course there are many differences as well. Rabbit seems to be a meaner character and by the time he plotted to have Kanga and Roo removed from The Hundred Acre Woods, I figured he was the type who voted for Brexit.
The kids enjoyed listening to this book and there was much laughter. I especially enjoy Milne’s playful narration that has the seemingly omniscient narrator interacting with a child presumably listening to him reading, much as a parent may when making up stories using a child’s toys. And Peter Dennis’ audiobook narration is delightful. A forever classic in any format!
Title: Piglet’s BIG Movie
Release Date: 2003
Director: Francis Glebas
Production Co: Disney
Country: United States
Genre: Animation | Family
Summary/Review: This is the second in a series of contemporary adaptations of the Pooh franchise that Disney has released in the past decade or so. Unlike The Tigger Movie which I found surprisingly good, this is more of what I expect from Disney in milking the classics with some cheesy contemporary references thrown in. A soundtrack by Carly Simon features heavily in this movie almost as if the whole film was a vehicle for promoting her songs. Simon even appears during the credits. The story focuses on Piglet feeling unappreciated because he is small and wandering off and then his friends go looking for him. This is all a framing device for three flashback stories that show Piglet’s heroism. The flashbacks are the best part as they are based on A.A. Milne stories and are true to the originals. It’s a fun, sweet film – you really can’t go wrong with Pooh and Piglet – but they’ve done better.