Written by A.A. Milne (1882-1956) back in the 1920s, Winnie the Pooh is a beloved children’s classic which has captured the imagination of young and old alike for generations on end. Since acquiring the rights to the collection of the collection of timeless tales in the early Sixties, Walt Disney has adapted them to both the big and small screens, even extending the popular franchise in recent years by creating sequels for such peripheral characters as Tigger (2000), Piglet (2003) and Heffalump (2005).
With the latest episode, Pooh (Jim Cummings) returns to the limelight for an animated adventure ostensibly-based on three of the original, illustrated bedtime stories. The action unfolds in fabled Hundred Acre Wood, where we find him rousing from hibernation, hungry and out of honey. This state of affairs inspires the anthropomorphic bear to sing “The Tummy Song,” the first of numerous excuses the production seizes upon to launch into a bouncy show tune.
Winnie subsequently sets out on a search for some sweet bee nectar only to encounter his friend Eeyore (Bud Luckey), a donkey who’s depressed over having somehow lost his tail. After consulting with wise old Owl (Craig Ferguson), they convene a meeting attended by Pooh pals Tigger (also voiced by Jim Cummings), Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez), Rabbit (Tom Kenny) and Roo the kangaroo (Wyatt Dean Hall) to announce a reward of a pot of honey for whoever comes up with the best replacement for the missing appendage.
But when neither a balloon, a cuckoo clock, an umbrella, a weather vane, an accordion, a moose head, a yo-yo nor a dartboard looks right on Eeyore’s rump, they decide to approach Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) for help. The plot thickens when Owl misinterprets the note left on his door (“Back Soon”) to mean the boy has been kidnapped by a mysterious creature called a “Backson.”
Will the gang “rescue” Christopher Robin, secure a substitute tail for Eeyore, and fill Pooh’s belly so serenity might again abide inside this musical menagerie’s peaceable kingdom? That’s a lot of loose ends to resolve betwixt and between all the singing and dancing. But despite the picture’s scant running time of mere 69 minutes, only a fool would bet against Pooh and company.
A benign, tot-oriented fable sharing a heartwarming message about the true meaning of friendship
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 69 Minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures