Thursday, September 8, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

            Winnie the Pooh was a movie bound for box office failure for one simple reason: putting it up against Harry Potter.  It really doesn’t matter how good your movie is at that point, it’s just going to be steamrolled.  And, predictably enough, it was.  Which is rather sad for two reasons: one is that you’d think Disney would be smart enough not to do something like this, and two is that, in my honest opinion, I really enjoyed Winnie more than I enjoyed Harry Potter.
            Oh, they’re two completely different movies, in everything from tone to plot, trust me.  Harry Potter was a suitably epic conclusion to an epic franchise, a spot to be forever remembered that you can adapt a 7-book franchise without hitting sequelitis.  Winnie the Pooh…isn’t particularly epic.  In it, Eeyore has lost his tail, Winnie really wants some honey, and the gang thinks that Christopher Robin has been taken away by a monster called the Backson.  The characters interact along these plotlines for a hair over an hour, and then the movie ends.  That’s it.
            And that’s what makes it work for me.  It’s a traditional Winnie the Pooh story.  They don’t put in new characters, try to get huge emotional resonance in, or load the movie down with a star-studded cast.  It’s a movie where, if you love Winnie the Pooh and the cast of characters around him, you get to spend an hour with them.  It’s wonderful.  Within minutes I had a smile on my face that just didn’t go away until after the movie was over.  There are just so many jokes that work because you know these characters and how they act, and the movie knows well enough to not overuse any of the characters.  One of the best scenes involves all the characters except Piglet in a pit, and Rabbit gets increasingly frustrated as he tries to lead Piglet to get them out.  It gives you puns, visual gags, and two characters that are just being themselves.  And they’re always themselves.  Nobody really has any character development or a huge dramatic revelation.  There’s barely even a moral, besides one scene with Pooh near the end that could almost be considered one.  You’re just stepping into a day in the life in the Hundred Acre Wood.
            There’s really nothing more to say about it besides the fact that it’s purely enjoyable.  The animation is well done, the songs are in the spirit of classic Winnie songs, the voice acting is good.  But it’s all secondary to just sitting back and getting an hour of fun.  It may have been a mistake to put this in theaters in the first place, never mind against Harry Potter.  That doesn’t stop it from possibly being one of the best, and definitely one of the funniest, movies I’ve seen this summer.

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