The enchantment of Christopher Robin’s childhood days is back, as Disney animators deftly reconstruct the classic A.A. Milne characters, complete with soft, simple, pastel recreations of England’s Hundred Acre Wood, as depicted in Earnest H. Shepard’s original illustrations.
Opening with Zooey Deschanel’s version of the catchy Sherman Brothers’ title tune, the gentle story unfolds on one eventful day, beginning with Pooh’s hunger for honey upon awakening. As the narrator (John Cleese) explains, that leads him to discover that his gloomy friend Eeyore has lost his tail. Eager to help, Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga and Little Roo launch a contest to see who can find Eyore a new tail – and, to Pooh’s delight, the prize will be a fresh pot of honey.
But then they’re chagrined to discover that Christopher Robin has left a misspelled note, indicating he’ll be “Back Son” – which owl misunderstands, proclaiming that poor Christopher Robin has been captured by a ferocious, fearsome creature called the Backson and, of course, all his friends must come to his rescue.
Directed by Stephan J. Anderson and Don Hall, the plot combines three Pooh tales and screenwriter Stephen Anderson adds some new scenes. The superb voice cast includes Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Yom Kenny, Travis Oates, Bud Luckey, Jack Boulter, Wyatt Hall, Huell Howser and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, who – with her husband Bobby Lopez – contributed original ditties, like “The Backson Song” and “Everything is Honey.”
Back when the first Pooh movie was in preparation, Walt Disney doubted whether audiences would sit through a full-length feature, so it was edited into a 25-minute featurette: “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree,” released in 1966. It proved so popular that “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” followed and won the 1968 Oscar for Best Short. Pooh’s last screen appearance came 34 years ago in “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.”
For preschoolers, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Winnie the Pooh” is a lovable, sweet 7. How delightful to spend time again with that silly old bear!