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Winnie the Pooh - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Winnie the Pooh - Movie Review

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4 stars

With no 3D delights to dangle in front of audiences like a tempting carrot and no computer graphics to shock and dazzle kids either, Winnie the Pooh’s formula to its success rests in its willingness to explore its heart in a solely pen and ink expression.  This is traditional animation all the way.  Even the narrative is a bit of a throwback to the classic era of Walt Disney.  Sweet without being syrupy and poignant without being pushy, the cuddly narrative about a bear without any honey tackles friendship in bold and imaginative ways. Winnie the Pooh is both a welcome addition to the classic Pooh stories told by A.A. Milne and a wonderful story on its own right.

Working with material found in three of Milne’s stories, Winnie the Pooh finds itself balancing between the oft-gloomy donkey Eeyore (voiced by Bud Luckey) search for his tail with Winnie the Pooh’s (Jim Cummings) undying hunger for honey.  Joining in on the search for tail and honey is the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood inhabitants: Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter), Rabbit (Tom Kenny), Owl (Craig Ferguson), Tigger (Jim Cummings), Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and her baby Roo (Wyatt Dean Hall), and  Piglet (Travis Oates).  While searching, the gang learns of a terrible monster named “Backson” who they believe has entrapped Christopher Robin and they set out on a storybook adventure (as the film is narrated by John Cleese) to return order, Eeyore’s tail, and honey in the Hundred Acre Wood.

With a new fabric that gently tugs at the original 60s cinematic Pooh adventures, Winnie the Pooh is simple and joyful.  It’s a reminder that a strong focus on character and mood is really what matters most in the cinema and, with its stoic history of calming powers and Tao associations, the movie stands alongside Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and its subsequent classic-era sequels.  At several times throughout its brief running time, the movie’s narrative is as sleek and sly as the old pooh bear himself in his wily search for jars of lip-smacking honey.

To their credit, directors Stephen Anderson and Don Hall don’t try to reinvent the wheel with the source material; they merely sharpen it.  Indeed, Winnie the Pooh outshines what went before by being reverent to what worked and refining it with great moments of camaraderie and witty dialogue.  With music and tunes supplied by Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez, Zooey Daschanel and M. Ward, Winnie the Pooh finds its melodic heart to be as robust as what went before in the work of the Sherman Brothers.

The emotional artistry packed into this roll of honey dough is thick and beautiful and full of wonder.  Moments of pure imagination and glee circle this film as the familiar characters scramble about to do their duty in a forest they all fear and “save” Christopher Robin from Backson.  The comedy is more physical before and the songs are cheerier, but everything else is as familiar and as welcomed as ever.

The world needs Winnie the Pooh.  Certainly, the charm of the stories is a timeless one which provides the meaning in Hundred Acre Wood’s reappearance every five years or so, yet – in an adventure that barely breaks one hour – the filmmakers get it right.  Some of it might seem familiar (especially for hardcore “Pooh” bear fans) and maybe the writers played it too safe (an ironic statement, I know, for such a traditional story) with their story selections, yet the film still works as an engaging bit of animation happiness.

Disney animation might rely more on the glossy power of Pixar these days, but Winnie the Pooh reminds its viewers (as it expertly plays to a new breed of kids) that no one can deliver some old-school animation with heart and kid-friendly messages like Walt Disney.  No one.

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Winnie the Pooh - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: G for General Audiences.
Director
: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall
Writer
: Stephen J. Anderson
Cast: John Cleese; Jim Cummings; Bud Luckey; Craig Ferguson; Jack Boulter; Travis Oates
Genre
: Family | Animated
Tagline:
WTP?
Memorable Movie Quote: "A simple "Hello" would do, thank you very much."
Distributor:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release Date:
July 15, 2010
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 25, 2011

Synopsis Disney returns to the Hundred Acre Wood with “Winnie the Pooh.” Featuring the timeless charm, wit and whimsy of the original featurettes, this all-new movie reunites audiences with the philosophical “bear of very little brain” and friends Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo – and last, but certainly not least, Eeyore, who has lost his tail. “Ever have one of those days where you just can?t win, Eeyore?” asks Pooh. Owl sends the whole gang on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit. It turns out to be a very busy day for a bear who simply set out to find some honey. Disney?s all-new “Winnie the Pooh” movie is inspired by three stories from A.A. Milne?s books in Disney?s classic, hand-drawn art.

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Winnie the Pooh - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

3 Stars



Blu-ray Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 25, 2011
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Three-disc set (1 BD, 2 DVDs); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy
Playback: Region A

The 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer from Disney is a truly colorful affair.  The vibrancy maintains its storybook pastels and rich styling with a great coat of browns and greens. The blacks are focused and, while deep, never inky or overbearing. The animation is presented with fine detail and preserves the clarity of the lines – even the broken ones – with great respect. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a bit much as there really isn’t a need for such a loaded track on this release. That being said, the aural richness is appreciated and compliments the beautiful picture nicely.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

With no commentary and no solid making-of featurette, Winnie the Pooh utilizes its supplemental space for some Pooh-sized odds and ends. You get a brief history of A.A. Milne and his philosophical world that is Hundred Acre Wood. There are a couple of interesting deleted scenes – in various stages of pre-polished development - that get an introduction from the directors.  Mostly, these scenes were deleted due to time constraints and story needs. The disc is also loaded with a bunch of Karaoke extras for those who love to sing along with Pooh and his friends.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • Winnie the Pooh and His Story Too (9 min)
  • Five Deleted Scenes Introduced by the Directors (15 min)
  • Bonus Shorts: "The Ballad of Nessie" & "Pooh's Balloon" (8 min)
  • Disney Song Selection (11 min)
  • Creating the Perfect Winnie the Pooh Nursery (3 min)
  • Sneak Peeks (8 min)

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