WINNIE THE POOH (Rated G): Walt Disney returns with a retro animation designed to match E.H. Shepard's original illustrations - simple line drawings, pastel colors, & all. And even using topical pages from the original script, shown as John Cleese narrates in his best friendly British voice - sans any underlying satirical bite. It's a delightful return to the past, when A.A. Milne's stories were at their height in popularity.
The total effect is perfect, the old blending subtly with a more modern pace as we zip along lovingly & pleasingly through Milne's 100-acre wood and all the original characters who peopled it.
The Disney company originally adapted the Pooh stories into a series of Disney features, to became one of the most successful franchises ever - selling loads of stuffed toys of Pooh-bear, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet & others along the way. In past film adaptations, Pooh (Jim Cumming's voice here) has been voiced by some of theatre's finest, including Sterling Holloway, Hal Smith, & Jim Cummings (and even Yevgeny Leonov in Russian!).
To continue historically, Milne named Pooh after a teddy bear owned by his son Christopher Robin Milne (the basis of the character Christopher Robin in the stories): Winnie after a Canadian black bear he often saw in the London Zoo & Pooh for a swan they had met while on a holiday. Ashdown Forest, Sussex, England, is the setting - a large area of tranquil open heath land on the highest sandy ridges of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty about 30 miles south of London. (How's that for background info?)
The plot for this story, which draws upon three earlier ones, is a simple tale which light-heartedly introduces and acts upon all the forest's animals, each in its own characteristic manner. Here we have them hunting down, and hoping to trap, what they assume to be a fearsome (and not very nice smelling) Backson. After all the creatures work together to capture the Backson, they discover eventually that they misread "back soon" in one of Christopher's postings to them.
Sentimental fans of the Milne stories of any age will wallow nostalgically in this 69-minute labor of love.
I have one question regarding the final credits, which include everyone involved from product promotion to go-fers & clean-up artists - over 10-minutes worth - why? No one's left in the theatre (besides myself) after the first 30-seconds. As Winny the Pooh would say, his stomach rumbling with honey deprivation, "Oh, bother!" (Grade: A-)