Winnie the Pooh, a belated review

A scene from Disney's new movie
Winnie the Pooh 2011

I’m still catching up on work, contacting friends, and recorded genre television after last week’s business trip to Chicago. So without further ado, here’s my review for Disney’s latest Winnie the Pooh movie.

Fans of A.A. Milne’s stories or Disney’s 1960s and 1970s film adaptations will be charmed by Winnie the Pooh‘s traditional animation style, its gentle humor, and a cast that’s closer to the familiar voices than the hyperactive shorts or TV shows from the past two decades.

My sister in law Melinda and several young nieces will no doubt be pleased that once narrator John Cleese (of “Monty Python” fame) begins reading from the book of Pooh’s misadventures, viewers are drawn back to Christopher Robin’s playroom and the Hundred Acre Wood as if no time at all has passed since our collective childhoods. The device is similar to Pixar’s Toy Story.

The plot is fairly simple: Pooh Bear goes looking for honey, but his dour donkey friend Eeyore has lost his tail. Pompous Owl, timid Piglet, supportive Kanga and Roo, and nervous Rabbit end up misreading a note from Christopher Robin and look for a monster called “Backson” instead. Sight gags abound, and the script has clever allusions that would likely sail over the heads of younger audience members.

Winnie the Pooh lacks the cynicism, off-color humor, or flashiness of many popular movies, but it is better for omitting them. I’d happily recommend this movie, which was rated “G,” to any parent. Not to slight other works, but Winnie the Pooh is the first film in a long time that felt to me like the Disney classics I watched on Sunday nights.

I’d give Winnie the Pooh a “B+/A-,” three and a half out of five stars, or a solid 8 out of 10. Let’s hope that Disney can continue shepherding quality to the big screen with its upcoming The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made, which also looks to revive popular awareness of clever humor, simple joys, and humane (if not human) entertainment.

In related — if somewhat lower-brow — animation, Janice and I have been enjoying the Cartoon Network’s Looney Toons Show, which combines Warner Brothers’ Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck with the absurd situations of Seinfeld.

I’m also catching up on multimedia announcements from San Diego Comic-Con 2011, but I look forward to the upcoming revival of Thundercats, as well as to the return of Young Justice. I’m also impatiently awaiting next year’s Avatar: the Legend of Korra, sequel to the underrated fantasy Avatar: the Last Airbender (not to be confused with James Cameron’s Avatar movie or The Last Airbender movie adaptation dud).

In the coming week or so, I’ve got more movies to review, including Harry Potter [8] and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and Captain America: the First Avenger!