Christopher Robin and all his animal friends in the Hundred Acre Wood return in Winnie the Pooh, a charming little throwback cartoon that is sweet as "hunny".
Christopher Robin (voice of Jack Boulter) is a human boy whose best friends and best adventures happen in the Hundred Acre Wood, his imaginary world where all his stuffed animals are alive and have capers with and occasionally without him. There’s the excitable Tigger (Jim Cummings), the bossy Rabbit (Tom Kenny), the wise if pompous Owl (Craig Ferguson), kind Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and her son Roo (Wyatt Dean Hall), timid Piglet (Travis Oats), glum Eeyore (Bud Luckey) and that tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff, Winnie the Pooh (also Cummings). In this adventure, Pooh is, as usual, on the search for honey (spelled “huny” and “hunny” on all of his pots) and Eeyore finds he has lost his tail. Luckily for Pooh, the winner of a contest to find Eeyore a new tail will get a pot of honey. Balloons, a cuckoo clock and a spring are among the many contenders.
Later, Pooh, still as unlucky with the quest for a snack as he is with the quest for a tail, heads to Christopher Robin’s tree house and knocks on his door. He finds — with the help of the narrator (John Cleese) — a note but can’t make out what it says and takes it to Owl to read. Owl decides that the note indicates that Christopher Robin has been kidnapped by the Backson, a terrible monster that the gang must catch if they want to save Christopher Robin. Off the animals go to set a trap and draw the Backson out — even after Owl wonders if there’s a reason the phrase “back soon” sounds so familiar — and further adventures are had.
The charm of Pooh isn’t so much in the story but in the animation. It is done in the style of the old-fashioned watercolor-style cartoons. Nothing is 3-D here. The characters and scenery are all lovely illustrations, picture-book style, and, as in previous Pooh adventures, the words are mixed in with the pictures. A character running too far out or sliding too far down the “page” ends up walking on letters, sometimes even tripping on them or using the letters to get himself out of a predicament. And just like in previous Pooh movies, the narrator sometimes helps the action along, particularly with the sometimes slow-on-the-uptake Pooh.
G-rated and coming in at just over an hour, Winnie the Pooh seems like the perfect film to introduce the youngest movie-goers to the big screen. And it won’t test the patience of parents — I think I ended up laughing more in this movie than at Pixar’s recent Cars 2. It is sweet and gentle, like a story time come to life. B
Rated G. Directed by Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall and written by Stephen J. Anderson, Clio Chian, Don Dougherty, Don Hall, Brian Kesinger, Nicole Mitchell and Jeremy Spears (from the book by A.A. Milne), Winnie the Pooh is an hour and nine minutes long and is distributed by Walt Disney Studios.