Directed by: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall | 60 minutes | animation, family | Dutch voice cast: Kees Coolen, Job Schuring, Kees van Lier, Philip ten Bosch, Paul Klooté, Jérôme Reehuis, Hein Boele, Beatrijs Sluijter, Frenk Hakkaart, Jesse Pardon | Original Voice Cast: Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Tom Kenny, Wayne Knight, Peter Cullen, Gilbert Gottfried
The stories of A.A. Milne across the Hundred Acre Wood, where the world’s sweetest (and hungriest) teddy bear Winnie the Pooh lives with his friends Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Kanga, Roe, Owl and Rabbit, have been loved by young and old for years. Not surprising, because the writer, who died in 1956, wrote the books, as stated in his biography, for the child in all of us. Disney has regularly filmed one of many stories since the 1960s. The popularity of those films, TV productions and merchandise means that Pooh’s Disney image is perhaps more famous than those iconic drawings by E.H. Shepard. Nevertheless, the cartoonists working at Disney succeed very well in reproducing the original atmosphere of the books on the silver screen. In the 2D film “Winnie the Pooh” (“Winnie the Pooh”, 2011) they once again hit the right note.
The beginning of the film is already delightful: we see Pooh sleeping well in his bed, when the voice-over (in the original version John Cleese, in the Netherlands we have to do it with Kees Coolen) tries to wake him up. That does not work just like that; the book has to be shaken, which makes for a very funny scene. It is not the only time that the fourth wall is broken: the pages of the book regularly appear on screen and the Hundred Acrebos residents even use the letters to walk on, or even as a remedy… Very inventive and charmingly done.
Burney Mattinson, one of the few Disney artists who can still say that he has worked with Walt Disney, was committed to writing the screenplay. For this he seamlessly processed three separate stories by Milne into one larger story, leaving plenty of room for small jokes. He also did not lose sight of the original character of the characters. Pooh is as cheerful as ever, Tigger has his own energetic self and the frightened Piglet still has a heart that seems bigger than the entire Hundred Acre Wood put together. Eeyore is funnier than ever, but that’s mainly because he has a somewhat bigger role than usual. Owl doesn’t want to admit that he’s actually not sure and that’s the catalyst for most of the movie.
It’s a day like any other. Pooh has another rumbling stomach (hearing the grunts outweighs all previous hunger attacks) and decides to look for honey. But when he discovers that Eeyore has lost his tail, he enlists Owl’s help. Finally, the animals decide to hold a competition: whoever finds a tail for Eeyore first wins a pot of honey. Pooh likes that, but the price is still ignored. When he wants to visit Janneman Robinson afterwards (maybe he has honey?), All he finds is a note that says: “Have gone. Busy. See you soon”. Owl is the only one who can read and he concludes that Janneman Robinson has been kidnapped by a monster that calls itself Totzo. The heroic friends set out to capture the (imaginary) monster in order to save Janneman Robinson. That is not easy on an empty stomach, Pooh notices. That results in such a typical, visually breathtaking Disney dream scene, in which Pooh sees honey pots everywhere and eventually swims around in a honey oasis in a bee suit. The scene in which Owl draws his interpretation of the Totzo on the sign that acts as Eeyore’s tail, and the chalk drawings come to life, is equally phenomenal.
What is also striking is that – in live action – Janneman Robinson’s bedroom can be seen at the beginning and end of the film; and this has been filmed with just as much love and attention as the rest of the adventures. It is also good to imagine that John Lasseter (executive producer for this film) got his inspiration for “Toy Story” from the adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Janneman Robinson plays with his toys in the same way as Andy does in “Toy Story” (1995) and the sequels, and that is emphasized in this film. Magnificent!
The only thing to criticize about “Winnie the Pooh” is the short playing time, although that can be beneficial for young children. Older viewers will only regret that the film has already ended. Don’t miss the credits; this too has been made with care in line with the film. “Winnie the Pooh” is a delicious, charming and nostalgic quality film that you will thoroughly enjoy. Just like that silly old bear can’t get enough of honey, this one also tastes like more!