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DisneyFeature Film

Variety reviews “Winnie The Pooh”

I would have noted this earlier, but I just spotted it myself. Hollywood trade paper, Variety, posted the first review of Disney’s new Winnie The Pooh feature on its site April 1st, and it appeared in its weekly print edition this past Sunday (issue dated 4/11-17).

The review (by Justin Chang) is luke-warm, but positive. In case you can’t get past Variety’s pay wall, here are a few of the relevant parts:

“This soothingly short 69-minute picture boasts a few touches that, if not exactly crass, have been applied with perhaps too knowing a wink, resulting in a slightly condescending aftertaste.

“Misled by Owl’s iffy reading-comprehension skills, (Pooh and friends) come to believe Christopher Robin has been abducted by the Backson, an ugly, ill-mannered monster that looms ever more fearsomely in their imaginations in “The Backson Song” (the most memorable of the original tunes penned by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez). Performed over an inventive montage of quick-moving chalkboard drawings, this interlude is one of two musical sequences conceived and animated in a bolder, more fanciful style, the other being “Everything Is Honey,” in which Pooh finds himself in a golden-hued wonderland where everything is made of something sweet.

“(The directors) stick to a visual palette that, under Paul Felix’s art direction, retains the two-dimensional, watercolor-based style of the classic Pooh adventures, albeit polished to a high-tech gloss that in no way compromises its retro charm. The desire to stay true to what was lovable and enduring about the originals is palpable throughout, down to the amusing storybook conceit of having the characters interact not only with the narrator (voiced by John Cleese), but also with the letters and punctuation marks on the page.”

The film opened today in Europe. If you’ve seen it, tell us what you think (a U.S. talkback post will be here on July 15th).

Oh, and the photo above was snapped in the hallway of Disney Feature Animation (in the “Hat Building”). It’s a full-length mural, painted on the wall, I suppose to inspire the production staff to think 60s style… and, for the record, Disney never released any film in “Deluxe Color” which was owned back then by 20th Century-Fox. Disney of course, had a long term deal with Technicolorâ„¢ (though they did strike an Eastman Color print on rare occasions), but I digress…

  • Michael Grabowski

    I’m excited for the film because my 3 year old love Pooh so this is the perfect time to take her to see this movie this summer with her… but (and I can’t be the first to point this out) why does the plot sound the same as Pooh’s Grand Adventure, a DVDquel my daughter won’t let us throw out?

    • snip2435

      Coincidence. This film adapts several chapters from the original books, and a portion of The House At Pooh Corner, but Pooh’s Grand Adventure was written decades later, by different people.

  • ahhhh, that painting is gorgeous

    • Very nostalgic, huh?

    • Glenn C

      I agree! It’s by the film’s art director, Paul Felix.

  • Although it is aimed for the younger set, I’m really looking forward to seeing this come July. It looks absolutely beautiful. I would’ve loved to have been a part of something like this. It’s like a dream project of mine to animate these characters in that rough Shepard-like style.

    And that mural looks amazing, much like the original movie poster:

    My girlfriend and I will be in Disney World the week after it opens, and we’re planning on going to see it at the theater in Downtown Disney while we’re down there. It should be fun!

  • Don’t care if it’s for kids, I’ll still see it.

    • Me too.

      • snip2435

        Me tooh.

      • Stephan

        Me pooh.

  • The talk in the article of a snarky, condescending tone is very concerning… It does seem to line up with what we’ve seen so far of this new movie.

    What I liked best about the original Pooh shorts was their wonderful childlike sense of naivete and innocence. Delving into self-parody and playing the characters purely for “haha they’re stupid” laughs definitely seems like a step in the wrong direction, and one that I don’t think is necessary, even in our present pop-culture climate. Not with such universally beloved, venerable characters as these. Cynicism is completely out of place in Pooh’s world, except coming from Eeyore.

    Hopefully this self-parody stuff really will be contained to just a handful of scenes, although I fear that even a little bit of it could do a lot to damage the tone of the movie.

    On the plus side, that mural is beautiful and looks just like the ads for the original shorts.

    • Roberto

      Piglet and Pooh act a little stupid in that clip we saw, but I prefer to look at it as naivete or innocence. It doesn’t come across as “ha, ha, they are stupid” to me. In fact Pooh’s reactions to Piglet’s sugerences are quite charming while Rabbit may look like the most clever one but that’s because he’s more grumpy and less childlike. If there is any cynism in that clip it comes from the Rabbit character, not so much from the filmmakers IMO. The joke is in the different opinion of the characters, not neccesarily in how stupid Piglet and Pooh are.

      It’s a long time since I saw the original shorts but Pooh is supposed to be a little dumb anyway. He was described as a “silly old bear” and ” a bear of very little brain” frequently in the shorts. I think Piglet was more clever than what we saw in the clip but since he’s like a little kid I don’t find it insulting.

  • Bud

    Disney’s worked with Deluxe before–although no release prints have been struck with them until recently. It’s sad that Technicolor is no more. Walt and Roy were directly involved in that company’s success.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      yeah I was kinda expecting it to say “In TECHNICOLOR” perfectly!

  • Ergo

    I’ve never really been able to enjoy Disney’s Winnie the Pooh. It just lacks the Englishness of the books, which was so much a part of the enjoyment for me.

  • And, it all starts with a blank sheet of paper. Truly amazing, and hopefully not forgotten.

  • J.M. Urbina

    Yeah I thought 60s when I saw that poster.
    Let´s just hope Amid doesn´t hate the retroness or vintageness of it. ;)
    Jk Amidi.

  • Randy Koger

    Man, what a nice piece of art.
    It’s 1966 all over again.
    Just beautiful!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      For a mural, this would be something I’d expect to see printed in my local paper’s “Peach Section” back in the day, or even now if someone cared to do so.

  • Ignatz the Brick Pitcher

    An absolutely gorgeous mural, if I may say so. You’d have to be a philistine or made of stone to not feel its beauty and character renderings. This photo inspires me to pull out The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh DVD! (My inner child is drooling.)

  • I caught it today. I was the only one in the cinema but hey at least that meant no crying kids. I thought it was an absolutely wonderful film. The animation was fantastic and I especially loved Rabbit’s exaggerated expressions. As someone else pointed out, it would have been nice if there was more englishness to it. Rabbit with a giant dollar bag seemed a wee bit out of place. The Nessie short at the beginning was a darn well neat addition.

    Although, the Jake and the Neverland Pirates short they had before it was painful to watch. Another of these Dora the Explorer HOP WHEN WE HOP thingy-ma-jiggers. And what on earth did they do to Captain Hook? His hook isn’t even a hook any more.

    Anyways, Winne the Pooh itself is well worth a look.

    • The only one in the cinema? Uh-oh…

    • Mac

      I read a very positive review of the movie in my local paper this morning and hope to catch this film soon. Despite having the prestige of being animated by Disney Feature Animation, this seems to have been released in the UK as this year’s baby movie, just as one of those CG Tinkerbell films was released in cinemas last year. Just the fact that there’s a pre-school TV cartoon attached to this makes me cringe.

    • They have a “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” short? Especially if that indie singer sang some background numbers in this new movie?

      Disney, if you’re not aiming at just kids, just show a 40s Donald, or better yet, no short at all.