“Winnie The Pooh” talkback

Is this the last stand of Disney hand drawn animation? Today sees the release of a new Winnie The Pooh feature film – the first Pooh film created by the Feature Animation team that includes veterans like Eric Goldberg, Andreas Deja, Dale Baer, Mark Henn, Bruce Smith and Burny Mattinson. Also on the the bill is the 2-D short, The Ballad of Nessie by Stevie Wermers-Skelton and Kevin Deters (How To Hook Up Your Home Theatre).

A.O. Scott in the New York Times praised it by saying: “It is not Cars 2.”

The Los Angeles Times was mixed, saying it’s an “awfully retro, fairly juiceless affair”, yet “a fitting tribute.”

Rogert Ebert says it’s “gentle and pleasing”. I saw Winnie last week and to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. If the goal was to recreate the feel of the late 1960s Disney features — the xerox line backgrounds, the sparse plot made up of random episodic sequences — they succeeded. It’s a sweet, fun little kiddie film, but ultimately an unnecessary addition to the Disney library.

The animation is what you’d expect and nothing more — though I did enjoy the acting of Dale Baer’s Owl a bit more than the others. Two special sequences liven things up: “The Backson Song” directed by Eric Goldberg, in which the characters describe the imaginary “monster”, visualized as colored-chalk stick-figures; and “Everything Is Honey” which imagines Pooh in a world of honey. The songs are nice, the voices are satisfactory. It’s a gentle little G-rated film and it’ll do fine on video. I just wonder if it will work as a theatrical. There are many like me who are rooting for it to succeed, including a Facebook group: Support Hand-Drawn Animation by Seeing Winnie the Pooh.

What did you think? Yay or nay? Go see the film and let’s discuss. Only those who have actually seen the film (and we can tell) may post in the comments below. All others will be deleted.


  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    In Spain we saw this movie much earlier. I was more disappointed by The Ballad Of Nessie, the story didn’t do much for me and the look was interesting but not perfect.

    I found the movie to be very entertaining for both kids and adults with a sense of humor that was less infantile than other recent Pooh’s movie. There was a total lack of pathos or morals except for a little moment at the end. This was both good and bad. On the plus side it made the film look like a nice comedy that adults can enjoy without watching the characters sobbing and learning their lessons and everything getting overly sentimental like it usually happens in kids movies. On the other hand this makes the movie a little too light.

    Some of the characters acted a little strange, especially Owl and Piglet, I think they were dumber than usual, but I didn’t mind too much since most of the comedy actually worked. The pairing of Tiger/Eeyore was interesting at first but they didn’t do a lot with it.

    I thought the animation was pretty good, considering I’m not a superb fan of the drawing style of the franchise. I loved the colors of it and I had fun with Rabbit’s and Owl’s expressions. Maybe I’m too nostalgic of traditional animation in cinemas but I quite enjoyed the visuals, more than I was expecting to. That doesn’t mean I will rewatch this movie a lot and I won’t probably buy the dvd.

    The soundtrack was very good.

    Overall it’s probably the best Winnie The Pooh movie since The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh. Sadly, that’s not saying a lot.

    Anyway it was nothing like they advertised it at a certain point of the production. I’m almost sure they said it was going to be more mature and melancholic. I thought they could have done a little more with that to make it more appealing for all audiences. Since this is about stuffed animals and Lasseter has now a lot of influence in Disney I was expecting it to have a certain Toy Story feel that was totally absent.

  • Amy

    Your review is pretty accurate. Art direction and animation are fine for the most part. Rabbit and Tigger animation was lifeless–although they never ceased to move. The story is PAPER thin in bad ways–the characters really come across as mentally deficient after a while. Building a short around the slight misunderstanding as this film does might work–but it’s just not enough for most things over 22minutes. The songs are altogether witless and charmless. The voice acting, however, is quite good–especially Craig Ferguson as Owl and Bud Lucky as Eeyore.

    I enjoyed the film’s nostalgia for a short while, but started squirming in my seat after 10 minutes with the realization that it was not going to be much more than that.

    The Balled of Nessie was useless, and derivative to the point that it should never have been made. Poorly directed and written, it seriously just sits on the screen like a lump of bland coal. Really calls into question who is green lighting these things into production.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      No disrect to you, but I completely got the opposite reaction.

      How can “anyone” critisize it’s animation? Or it’s music for that matter?

      After several repeated critiques that adults may “squirm” after the first 10mins. or so, and trust me, I had my watch by my side, I did not feel this at all! I was thourghly entertained throu out!

      I think people should “relax” on story. This movie entertained me MORE in 60mins, than any 1.5 to 2hr CG movie that bombards me with un-neccesary EFX and plastic-looking characters.

      Nessie could have been better, but who’s paying attention when you’re GLUED to it’s beautiful animation and art direction. Cartoons of old didn’t always have the best “stories” but they worked as works of art.

  • Darkblader

    Ive saw the movie today, I saw a few parents in the theater. I really enjoyed it for the sake of nostalgia, but at the same time I was only seeing this for the sake of hand-drawn animated features for the future.

    Tom Kenny surprisingly did a good job on rabbit. I was mediocre with Nessie, but it was cute. There’s one big surprise at the end. Stay for the surprise.

  • http://lifeincartoonmotion.org Tünde

    I really enjoyed the Pooh movie (it premiered a lot earlier in Holland), it was a nice, small, cute story. I liked the animation, the humor and the voices. The only thing I was wondering about were the story lines, there were like three and they didn’t really have a strong connection with each other.

    The Nessie short succeeded to look like a classic short from a while ago, that was nice but it was nothing more.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      I undestand the story line connection critique, but in the end, I wasn’t there sitting at my seat wondering… “what just happened?”

      I think people are a little too quick to dismiss a wimsical, entertaining and cute children’s movie.

  • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ teodor

    My comment about Winnie The Poohhe is the same as for Princess and the Frog:
    Same as in the eighties-someone else must do 2D feature for theaters.

    I stubbornly stand behind this comment.This is not a movie for theaters

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      How do you explain then Disney’s success in his early cartoon movies?

      You think they weren’t meant for theatres either??

      Give me a break..

      I’m not a Disney-maniac, but you can’t debate the sheer JOY of watching many classic Disney films.

      • http://animationinventory.blogspot.com/ teodor

        …and please, look at them.
        animators again will be guilty, and in trouble

        Winnie has a different audience and that is true. But the Big Mouse found this project to rival the Dragons and Harry Potters…?
        Why?

  • http://youtube.com/tavoman Tavoman

    I actually enjoyed it a lot… granted, I did mostly because I imposed a critical thinking reading into it. What I was disapointed about was the bland animation for Christopher Robin and the fact that Rabbit pretty much does nothing in the film, except for the moment in the hole he is practically invisible

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      You must have a “thing” for rabbit? ;)

      What constitutes as “bland” animation? I’m curious.. I’m a traditional animator, I can take it.

      • http://youtube.com/tavoman Tavoman

        well, not exactly a thing but usually Rabbit has more relevance in the stories and what I mean with bland: Christopher moves rather mechanical on the opening walk cycle, and in general he doesn’t look to have much of a personality; he looks way more charming on the poster art they painted on the studio wall while the film was on production.

        Now I could be wrong, what’s your take on it?
        btw. visited your site, really like your stuff

      • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

        Thanks Tavoman.

        I guess what I mean is, and the end of the day, the general public’s not going to notice that Christopher’s walk cycle isn’t great or that Rabbit’s relevance in the movie is not of high importance.

        Everyone in the theater I was in seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. They laughed where they needed to laugh and that’s a HUGE sign of a successful film.

        I’m an animator myself and I don’t sit in a theatre analizing animation. I’m too busy enjoying the ride.

        Beautiful film.

  • http://MrFun'sBlog Floyd Norman

    I’ve been watching the film as it moved production and found it fun and delightful. Disney animation has every reason to be proud of this effort.

    My only question is, what next? Why is so damn hard to put these talented guys to work? Why would you let Andreas walk out the door? Reminds me of boneheaded Disney in the seventies when some other guys (you know who) were let go.

    • http://deleted OtherDan

      I don’t know anyone here who would know better than you sir. I haven’t seen it yet. But, do you see a future for 2D Disney Films Mr. Norman? I can’t see it happening unless there is a will, and a reason. What’s the reason? – coming from someone who loves great 2D btw.

    • 2011 Adult

      Putting Andreas out the door is a sign that they probably don’t have a hand-drawn film lined up yet. Give them time and see what they announce for their future films.

    • Steve

      “Why would you let Andreas walk out the door?”

      Because Andreas is a big boy and makes his own career decisions. He’ll be back when he wants to go back.

      I saw Pooh. It was fine. Nothing spectacular, and some areas were actually a bit over animated and the lip synch seemed…off. Im more interested in what Disney does next. And in CG.

      • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

        Nit-picky aren’t we ;)

        And NO….. NOT CG!!!! Hahaaa

      • http://deleted OtherDan

        Well, I saw it now. And, it’s true; hard not to be Nit-picky when the characters are so familiar. I loved the beginning. It gave me high hopes that it was going to be very true to the earlier films. As it went on I found things to be picky about. I think Winnie the Pooh was exceptionally done. Tigger was also very well done. I liked Owl and Rabbit and Christopher Robin, but they seemed a little out of character to me. Eore was well done, but his head seemed too large at times…now I’m getting nit-picky and the rest of the cast seemed that much more off-except maybe Roo (but his role seemed insignificant). I think the problem with trying to carry the torch is that it could never match exactly what came before it. It didn’t resonate after we walked out. I think it’s because the story itself didn’t have any real arcs. It was more of a walk through the woods. Having said that, our family enjoyed it and it held the attention of our 2yr old. I heard the opening figures were terrible. I guess Harry Potter was too much to compete against. The lines for that one were crazy at noon.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      I agree Floyd, why is it so hard?! Where are the hot, new and contemporary stories?

      Studios should look to “hipsters”, “losers” and “art drop-outs” for inspiration.

      I’m not kiddin! ;)

      • 2011 Adult

        I’m more curious to know why Disney hasn’t discovered new 2D talent by now. The characters were supervised by…… the same exact people they’ve been working with since the 90′s?

  • Matt Sullivan

    [Comment removed by editors. This talkback thread is for people who have seen the film and wish to express their opinion about it.]

  • http://optionjoe.blogspot.com Joe

    I thought the movie was cute and had some fun moments, but certainly not great. It definitely felt like the artists put time and care into the animation and art, but I could tell the studio wanted to play this property REALLY safe.

  • jaktheparrot

    My biggest complain about the story is that although it’s loosely based on the books, it manages to repeat story points from earlier, much lesser efforts of Toon Studios, despite trying to sell itself as sort of a reboot.

    SPOILER ALERT (I guess)

    The whole ‘misread message from Chirstopher Robin’ plot was done in the DTV Pooh’s Grand Adventure: Search for Christopher Robin. Same for ‘let’s follow Owl’s advice and go on an rescue mission’.

    The ‘lets sing about an imaginary monster’ song was in Pooh’s Heffalump Movie.

    The ‘it’s funny to make Tigger out of Eyeore’ bit was done in The Tigger Movie.

    The unneccesary Mission Impossible sequence was so out of place, it made me cringe.

    I do enjoy the songs and Zooey Deschanel was a perfect choice for the ECV and “Winnie the Pooh” cover.

    • 2011 Adult

      I don’t know much about the Toon Studios things, but I did think that the “lost in the forest” scene, a congratulatory fanfare, and the imagine sequence, were a bit fillerish, mostly because they were all already done in the ORIGINAL FILM. I know they want it to feel just like it was made directly after that one, but they didn’t have to be SO religious about it!

  • Trevor

    The whole time I felt like I was watching something that was dreamed up in an executive office rather than on the floor of a studio. Much like Cars 2, I have to wonder if Disney/Pixar are just going down the list of their most profitable merchandise lines and making films to keep those properties flourishing.

  • http://MrFun'sBlog Floyd Norman

    It’s not whether I see a future for Disney 2D animated features. Only the Mouse can answer that question and there are indications the answer is, yes.

    I don’t know about you, but it was damn refreshing to see drawings up on the big screen again.

  • Darkblader

    Whats on the drawing board for hand-drawn animation for Disney? The mickey mouse animated film that has been mentioned?

  • http://MrFun'sBlog Floyd Norman

    Hmmmm! How did you know about Mickey?

    • Darkblader

      Somebody I know with told me that the “mickey” feature’s story was in the planning stages.

      • Scarabim

        Oh, please oh please let it be based on Epic Mickey! And let it be a blend of 2D and 3D (modern-world Mickey segues into retro-world Mickey as he enters the Wasteland). That would be so…EPIC, in every best sense of the term! *please please please*

        Oh, and Pooh. It was a bit too reminiscent of past efforts, but I have to say I got a few chuckles out of it, particularly when Pooh and Eeyore thought Owl was sneezing when he said “issue” and when Pooh and Rabbit were in the ditch and Piglet kept trying to find things to help get them out. As for the film’s quality, the production values were very solid and there was real CHARACTER animation in Pooh, Eeyore and Piglet, whereas Rabbit and Tigger were rather formulaic. All in all, I think it’s nice that Disney made another Winnie movie, but I do think it’s time for it to stop rehashing and do something DARING with 2D. I think that’s the only way to truly resurrect it.

  • Timanim

    I expected a lot out of this film.

    I’m not sure how that happened. I was never that big a fan of Winnie the Pooh. Sure I liked it, but it was never anything more than cute cartoons to me. But seeing trailers and beautiful stills from the movie from the past year really got me hyped on this film. Ok, Princess and the Frog wasn’t a break-out success, maybe Pooh would do it!

    Hmm… Why did I believe that a simple Pooh story would go all that? I was probably delusional, and the first few minutes kept me in that state of nostalgia and expectation. But then it very quickly wore off. The animation looked almost like student work, and it was very unrefined in places. (Christopher Robin and Pooh holding hands in the last scene… COME ON LOCK THOSE SHAPES DOWN) They had a few nice gags, but nothing terribly funny. Nor was the story substantial at all.

    …It’s just Winnie the Pooh. Why did I expect more from Winnie the Pooh?

  • Mike Johnson

    The Winnie the Pooh animated features have always hit me like a pleasant visit from a good friend. Even as a child (I’m 51 now) I liked them a lot, but never really fell in love. That’s okay though…sometimes liking is a fine thing.

    I cannot offer a critical review as I’m not in the business, as anyone who knows my past comments can obviously tell, but as an official animation enthusiast I can say this: I liked this well enough that I have no major complaints. What others have pointed out here already I can certainly agree with, but I was emotionally committed enough not to really notice at the time. I did love the music quite a bit though, and was surprised because I was expecting the songs to be fairly generic. Instead, they were fun and catchy. It was nice to see that the animation matched the classic features so well and was not dialed up in any way.

    All together I had a nice time. The Nessie short was cute but not especially memorable, though I liked the look and design of it.

    I hope that 2D animation will continue to stay alive at Disney. There is just something about hand-drawn animation that reminds me of visiting the art museum and being able to see the brush strokes on the canvas, and feeling the soul of the artist speaking through his work. No CGI animation will ever be able to replicate that.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      Bravo Mike….. Bravo!

      Couldn’t have put it better myself :)

  • Katerie

    I can’t rave enough about this movie! It was adorable and very well done. My sister and I were laughing the whole time. I like seeing non-pixar shorts for once! I liked the Nessie story. It was entertaining and I loved the style.
    As for length the movie did very well. Seeing as it’s aimed at small children one hour was perfect. It kept their attention. And also it kept the story from lagging or sticking to a bit. The songs left me wanting. They were pretty unspectacular, though some of the animation that went with it was fun and creative.
    I loved seeing some more hand drawn work coming from disney. It was elastic, fun, and charming.
    I highly recommend this movie. If you have to entertain some kids this is something that you can watch that you’ll have fun too.

  • DaffyDave

    Saw this spur-of-the moment tonight with my 9, 6 & 3-year-olds. Went in with no foreknowledge of this film and thought I was watching a film from 30-40 years ago that had just been re-released. The fact that a couple fuzzies flickered by as we were watching the film really had me wondering what year it was.

    -The backgrounds were beautiful.

    -The voice actors were actual voice actors, not recent flashes-in-the-pan who got a voice role to attract viewers.

    -The story was charming and genuinely entertaining.

    The added plus was the short at the beginning. The whole experience was fantastic. I tend to find classic Winnie The Pooh boring – this was great.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      Well said DaffyDave. The voice actors WERE true voice actors. They really played their roles well. Not just celebrity names flashed on the screen for promotional purposes. These actors reminded me of great voice actors or old, like Sterling Holloway, ect..

  • Matt D

    Jeez talk about a bunch of depressing grumps.

    I thought Winnie the Pooh was absolutely fantastic. I was laughing the entire way through (almost literally), and it left me with a feeling of “I can’t wait till they make a nice, short, cute film like this again.”

    The animation is absolutely gorgeous. Regarding Tigger and Rabbit being lifeless… were you watching the same movie? Tigger was fantastic and Rabbit, although a little over-eccentric at times, was really interesting to watch.

    There were so many cute little moments between the characters. I don’t know why some people are now saying “I know they were trying to play it safe, but it didn’t have to be THAT safe!” After saying for years “I wish Disney would do something that feels genuine and classic.” I guess Disney just can’t win either way.

    All in all, it was everything I hoped it would be, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s not gonna win any awards or anything – it just isn’t that kind of movie. But the many families in the theater as well as the surprisingly high number of college kids seemed to enjoy it the whole way through, and a lot even stayed through the credits for all the little gags, and the funny surprise at the very end.

    Also, The Ballad of Nessie was also perfect in my opinion. You could tell a lot of newer, less-experienced artists were working on it, something I love seeing. It’s good to know that Disney has somewhere to put new talent. I really, really hope that Disney will keep going with their shorts program and do MORE of this kind of fun, quick, animation for animation’s sake cartoon.

    Congrats, Disney. You should be proud.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      Well said Matt. The general audience at my theatre was also laughing thru-out.

      That’s usually a good sign ;)

  • Mathew

    I really enjoyed it. I loved the background artwork. There were a lot of families in the Downtown Disney cinema and it made me happy to hear the adults laughing just as much as the kids. This movie does the franchise justice and as Mr. Norman posted earlier, it’s nice to see drawings on the screen again.

  • DaffyDave

    Took my 9, 6 & 3 year-olds to see this tonight on a whim, with no foreknowledge of this whatsoever (haven’t visited this site for weeks).

    As soon as the Nessie short started I though I was watching re-released content from 30 or 40 years ago. A real theatrical cartoon short! The short was wonderful and i can’t wait to see it again (or hopefully more from it’s makers).

    The same sentiment applies to the feature. I was marveling at the backgrounds and the fact that they used actual voice performers instead of status-quo actor/voiceover-hacks like so many other recent animated features. The story was charming, funny, genuinely entertaining throughout its duration.

    The few hairs and fuzzies I saw flip by on the screen – whether real or intentionally included – they made me feel like a kid again, sitting in a theater watching a true animated feature pre-dating digital video streams.

    I stayed in my seat and watched the credits as the rest of my family left, unbeknown to me. BRAVO! Those involved in this should be very proud. I had half-*ssed talked my 9-year-old into coming with us for this stating ‘this may be the last cartoon movie you see done this way’ (my usual excuse). He left, like me, blown away. With all of the tech tweaks, computer generated content & 3D, even my 9-year-old told me in the car he could tell what time of year it was in the feature because of ‘the way they drew the forest and the gardens’.

    I hope this trend continues, because I have a house full of kids now asking for more Winnie The Pooh movies like that one. (‘Pinnie The Wooh’ movies, according to the 3-year-old.)

  • andreas Wessel-Therhorn

    the comment about princess and the frog being only fit for video is insulting as well as insipid

  • Tam

    I watched the movie, trying to put myself in the mindset of a child and be non-critical about it. I genuinely enjoyed it. By the end of the movie, I got the warm fuzzies. Yes, the story was very gentle, but that’s what I expected out of the Pooh franchise.

    I didn’t really enjoy the animation behind Rabbit, to be honest. It was a little too much for me. Christopher Robin’s animation was the opposite: it was too bland. The animation for Owl was fantastic, however.

    The children in the audience seemed to love it, so all in all, a good movie for families with young kids. It’s very sweet, like honey!

  • Kunio

    I’m amazed that I’m reading so much criticism towards its *cough* “retro-styled” animation, saying films like this and ‘Princess and the Frog’ are better off as direct-to-video fodder – the animation ghetto, if you will.

    I expected better of both serious film critics and aficionados of the craft of animation.

  • Sunday

    I was ear to ear smiles throughout. Though it’s more manic than any Pooh I’ve seen in the past, it was positively warming to see that hand-drawn line on the big screen and genuinely funny from start to finish. And while most of the characters were certainly shifted from their original incarnations, none of them were “murdered” — the characters changed, but the relationships between the characters moved with them, so the balance between each was maintained and all in all I felt they transitioned well given the attention spans of today’s primary Pooh audience.

  • Christopher

    I thought the new Winnie the Pooh film was simply fantastic. My girlfriend and I were in such awe with how wonderfully done the animation was. From the background to the soundtrack, everything in the movie was perfect. I can totally understand the harsh criticism towards the movies lack of any serious plot and length knowing how much we paid for to see it but hey I think it was a great way of the Suits reinserting these characters back into our lives. I hope someday they make an epic Pooh movie but until then this will have to do and for me, that’s quite ok. The Ballad of Nessie short was great too. How can anyone hate on the message of this wonderful little short. The animation style reminded me that of the great Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas especially MacFroogle. My only question with Winnie the Pooh is where the heck was Gopher?

  • Patrick collins

    Saw this months ago in London and was appropriately underwhelmed. Loved the original, but feel resoundingly whatever about the resultant sequels. Cannot understand Floyds joy at seeing anything 2d on the big screen- by that logic “troll in central park” deserves attention. Found the animation excellent (baring some exceptions), but again so what? Good animation is nothing to scream about- there is tonnes of it on show in every film coming out- be they 3d, stop – motion, or whatever, I do not understand why 2d artists think they should be praised for acting. It is after all the cornerstone of their jobs. You want my applause? Make something worth applauding.

  • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

    *SIGH………. They don’t make childrens films like they used to! But at least we have Winnie the Pooh!!!

    Many good things to say about it.

    a) Hand-drawn animation (*It’s an art form all it’s own)
    b) Voice Characterization (*Keeping true with original Pooh, the characters come to life with their voces too)
    c) Music (*It’sFUN, wimsical and NOT pop-culture related)
    d) Short and non-pretentious (*I don’t want to see an “epic” film, I want to be entertained for an hour)

    The word-play was also so much fun.

    (*Also, note to the general public, STAY FOR THE END of the CREDITS!!! I think I was the only one that knew anything was to happen)

    All in all, I feel these are the films that SHOULD be made for kids. Movies that’ll entertain, educate(*spelling and reading) and maybe…. JUST MAYBE… make kids want to pick up a pencil and be an animator (*Or a background drawer ;)

    Nessie was also good!! Though I agree the story wasn’t too strong, the ART direction and animation were GREAT! Reminded me of the sweet Reluctant Dragon.

    (* Did they tone-down the “plaid textures” on the hills from previous production stills I’d seen??? The BG’s look MUCH better, not fighting with the character colors too much :)

    To help support hand-drawn animation, I have to see this again. I only wished studios made more wimsical, not-so-overtly violent, pop-culture-driven kids movies like these.

    5 out of 5!!

    • http://ryangermy.tumblr.com Rybread

      You forgot to mention the lack of crude/potty humor was very refreshing.

  • Chris

    Great movie – best I’ve seen all year, and plenty for kids and adults to enjoy. I liked that the filmmakers kept it light and didn’t ruin it with any forced, uncharacteristic melodrama or half-baked attempts to turn it into something epic. The length was just right for the material. The film was not bogged down by any filler, and, as a result, every moment had humor and heart.

    Speaking of humor, I was laughing out loud in some parts. The scene where they fell in the hole is the best example. The cute wordplay and Piglet’s antics were really funny, and I was glad to see that they didn’t spoil the best parts of the scene in the sneak peek they gave awhile back. The song with Tigger and Eeyore was also quite amusing and, at the same time, advanced the story. I also found Owl to be very comical throughout the entire film.

    I agree that the character animation for Owl was delightful and was a contributing factor to why I thought he was funny for the duration of the film. I think Eric Goldberg also deserves kudos for his work on Rabbit – some of his expressions were funny by themselves. The chalk drawing sequence and Pooh’s hallucination were also a bit of clever fun for the eyes.

    If you didn’t know beforehand who wrote the songs, I believe you would be surprised to find that it wasn’t the Sherman Brothers. Likewise, the art style was a faithful recall of the old featurettes. These are all good things, and it’s refreshing to see classic characters get a modern adaptation that retains the originals’ sincere charm, instead of taking a cynical tone as a send-up of the original material.

    Maybe this film wasn’t totally necessary, but, like the “Toy Story” sequels before it, I’m really glad they did make this movie anyway because the end result was fantastic. The Disney animated canon is stronger for it.

    5 out of 5, and this movie is worth a repeat viewing.

    P.S. “The Ballad of Nessie” was not what I expected, but that’s just fine because it was a charming little treat. I especially liked Nessie’s design and the tartan patterns in the backgrounds, and I probably got a few strange looks for laughing at the Glen Keane reference.

  • http://thisisonlya.blogspot.com robcat2075

    This movie is not for adults who in any way are insecure about their adulthood and have a need to tell others about the rad, loud, daring, cutting-edge things they do. “Pooh” will not help them.

    I enjoyed it very much. It’s amusing, often clever and very much in the spirit of the older Pooh films and very well executed and honorably resisted whatever demand there may have been to hipsterize it. If you are wanting more from a Pooh movie, I’m not sure you’re wanting a Pooh movie.

    I like that they make the premise absolutely clear at the start… everything you are about to see is the imagination of Christopher Robin, a small boy. That adds a layer of nuance to it.

    The new songs were the weak point, largely unmemorable. I know the Sherman brothers are about 120 now but I don’t think they would have come up with anything lesser. I wonder if they were asked?

    Don’t leave until the credits are absolutely done, there’s a cute treat at the end.

    “Pooh” benefits greatly by comparison to the trailers that preceded it for the awful children’s films that are in the pipeline.

    • http://www.arielvillaverde.com Ariel

      I don’t understand people’s thoughts on this movie’s “weak” music.

      (Is this one of those “art is subjective” sort of questions??)

      Were they not fun? Were they not catchy? Did they not give you flashbacks of Disney’s great music tradition for childrens films?

      In my mind, the answer to all these is yes.

      • Soffe

        Ariel, allow people to have an opinion. You are not the last word in the way others should feel. It is important to be honest and your responses will be seen as posturing for your own gain.

  • Glowworm

    Much like Pooh’s craving for honey, I often crave hand drawn animation–it’s a refreshing break from the countless computer animation films that are out these days. My boyfriend, his brother and I greatly enjoyed this wonderful little film. We’ve all been brought up on the 60s Pooh as children, and this was a great dose of nostalgia for us.

    The voicework was fantastic, Jim Cummings is terrific as both Pooh and Tigger, Craig Ferguson is a hoot(pun intended) as Owl, Bud Luckey is a wonderful Eeyore and John Cleese makes a fun narrator. The rest of the cast is just as good.

    The opening was a wonderful homage to the original film’s opening, and Zooey Deschanel’s version of the classic themesong is both fresh and timeless at the same time. (Thank goodness for it not being redone as a pop song)

    The best part, both adults and children were laughing hysterically at the film. I especially adored the “sneeze” scene as well as the part where Owl actually flies out of the hole to encourage Piglet with a speech, only to climb back into the hole again! Rabbit’s reaction to this is hillarious. I also saw that three adults with no children in sight had also gone to see this film and enjoyed it as much as we did.

    The only drawback–the film is much too short. Yet it is short and sweet as the title character, and a delightful addition to the classic Winnie the Pooh movies.

  • 90′s WDFA Vet

    True Story: Early in Jeffrey K’s tenure at Disney, he wanted to make a Winnie the Pooh feature where all the characters were left in the back of Christopher Robin’s Mom’s station wagon. It got stolen, and Pooh and company ended up in an inner city ghetto, where they befriended two black kids named- -wait for it–”Flip” and “Rinky-Dink”.

    When the sheer awfulness of this idea was pointed out by one brave animator during a meeting, JK looked at him like he had lobsters crawling out of his ears.

    Fortunately, for us (and for you) this nightmare scenario never materialized.

    • Christopher

      What? this story would of saved hand drawn animation forever.

  • DB

    Maybe somebody still at the studio and with a long memory pitched the story to John Lasseter – sounds like Toy Story 3 with a different set of toys and a few other tweaks.

  • AaronSch

    We just got back from the theater and thoroughly enjoyed “Winnie the Pooh.” I’m sorry I read some of the early reviews posted here because it really unfairly lowered my expectations. Don’t let a small contingent of malcontents curb your enthusiasm to see this film. If you and your family enjoyed the previous Pooh tales, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Sam

    I liked Nessie, I don’t know why others didn’t like it. But I find the character absolutely cute and charming.

    Winnie the Pooh was okay for me. It was strange because I did grew up watching the TV series, which I loved.. And the movie felt slightly different for me.

  • Nickyle

    I thought the film was beautifully marvelous. The only thing i wish happened was that they cast Peter Cullen as Eeyore, Ken Sansom as Rabbit, and Andre Stojka as Owl. Other than that, it’s a great film.

  • http://ryangermy.tumblr.com Rybread

    I saw this movie with my kids (10, 5, 3 and 1) this weekend. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all, even my 1 year old was transfixed the whole time. The voices were great. I felt Jim Cummings finally caught the subtlety that made Stirling Halloway’s Pooh so great. Bud Lucky as Eeyore stole the show. The only character I had a slight problem with was Rabbit. What happened to the crotchety curmudgeon that once held a meeting to get the bounce out of Tigger?

    The art in this was great. I loved the richness of the had drawn backgrounds. It was great to see so many names in the animation industry that I grew up with work on this film. (Deja, Goldberg, Ranieri, Mattinson and Baer).

    I loved the music. Deschanel was a perfect voice to maintain a timeless feel. The songs were original and fun.

    Over all I liked this movie. I always love to see 2D being produced. I actually thought, “Wow, those drawings are moving”. It was truely a magical experience.

  • Philip

    I took my oldest sons (ages 5 and 3) and was also very excited to see the movie myself. I thought the Ballad of Nessie was alright, but was still anxiously awaiting the main feature. My 5 year old was hooked from the start, and basically didn’t say anything until the movie was over (while chowing down a large popcorn.) My 3 year old loved it also and it kept his attention for the most part.

    The hand drawn animation was VERY refreshing.

    All this to say I thought it was an excellent movie in every way and I would definitely go back to see it…which I probably will since my 5 year old asked to see it again.

    And no, I am not a Disney employee.

  • Geneva

    There were plenty of things I didn’t adore about it… namely that Rabbit is one of my favorite Pooh characters, and nearly everything he did was completely off-base, to me. His animation was way too zany and overzealous, but I don’t blame the animator at all– he was written to be really wacky, when Rabbit is supposed to be persnickety, selfish, particular, sensitive, and have an obsession with order. Wacky Rabbit was okay and moved the story along, but I missed the old Rabbit. It’s like they wanted that goofy comic relief and didn’t have anything for the actual character that existed, so they just decided to slate Rabbit with that role. Or they wanted to spice him up for younger audiences, or something.

    I also didn’t care much for the Backson schtick, and it really confused my 9-year-old cousin.

    HOWEVER, it was wonderful, just wonderful, seeing drawings on the big screen. I was so excited by it that I suspended disbelief pretty effectively. I laughed at a good number of the jokes.

    I would equate it to finally getting a real meal after years and years of fluffy CGI snacks. It was nourishing, and I thought a far better effort than Frog (largely since the designs were already good to go and the background style was set to something time-tested. I LOVED the backgrounds and color styling.) AND I had expected the soundtrack to match that of the trailer (hackneyed and trite garbage), but Zooey Deschanel was a real treat. It sounded wonderful.

    I thought that Piglet was characterized in a pretty charming way, and the whole scene with the pit was pretty effective and cute. I really liked that they used the storybook gimmick, it gave it a lighthearted vibe overall.

    All my personal thoughts aside, my 9 year old cousin really liked it. She laughed a LOT and was repeating the jokes all night! What really made it double-worth it though is that afterwards she said “I like cartoons more when they’re drawn.” I think I’m rubbing off on her!

  • robert pope

    I loved it. My kids (6 and 3) loved it. The 6 year old laughed quite a bit, and the 3 year old was mesmerized. I dug it the most.

  • http://barryrodges.com Barry Rodges

    I was very impressed with this labor of love. The music fit the tone of the film perfectly. I found the Indiana Jones reference by Piglet odd, but it was so subtly done that it was kind of nice to see. I thought all the voice acting was great, as was the animation. But some characters, like Rabbit, seemed to be animated a bit more fully than others, like Tigger. Overall, I’d give it an A, & I hope more people go & see it. I was surprised by the large number of frat boy douche bags in the theater watching this film. They actually seemed to be enjoying themselves & laughed at all the right parts, & never said anything snarky. I expected to have to put up with a lot of heckling…

  • http://blog.mrcreativeshop.com I believe in 2D

    I thought the movie was great to see on the big screen and I think they did a solid job considering. Also, I really loved how they did not try to make the characters have all the 3D style highlights, glows and shadows. I think it ruins the integrity of the line work…I’m a HUGE 2d fan and I’m actually quite frustrated that they had this up against Harry Potter. I still have not heard a real good argument for it. Winnie only made $8 million at the box office. :-((

    BTW: I too have heard about Burny working on some ideas for a new Mickey movie, which has the potential to be a REALLY good idea. I was actually talking about this with friends about a year ago…Go back and watch Runaway Brain. That to me is the best Mickey cartoon probably since the 40′s, all while making it very current. If they made it a buddy movie with Goofy and Donald, and the Pixar style action/comedy, they just may have a winner. Just don’t pair it up with a ginormous blockbuster. Not smart.

    I also think a retro 2D movie would be great, set in the 50′s or something, with that style of Disney animation. Ok, hope I don’t get bumped for not just talking about Winnie. I just hope they keep doing 2D and there so many cool opportunities!

    Good luck, WDFA!!!

  • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto

    I don’t think Rabbit’s personality was so off. His movements were wacky, but he was still the only sensible one during the hole scene. I didn’t love his animation. The poses were funny but the movements were sometimes a little too broad. This happens with Eric Goldberg recently. Louis’ character in Princess and The Frog was the same thing. He moved too much even for a cartoony character.

    I admit there has been a long time since I’ve watched Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, but, like I said before, I thought Owl was the one who changed the most. He was senile in this one. Sometimes that was funny, but maybe they went a little too far with it. As far as I remember he was more clever in the classic movie.

    There are two good things I want to insist on:

    -The gag with Owl flying out the hole was very well done even if Owl was dumb or senile. It was a very classic kind of comedy. I could easily imagine a similar gag in Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh or even in Song Of The South or Alice In Wonderland. It’s a clever and well-paced gag about someone doing a dumb thing.

    - I haven’t watched most of the recent Winnie The Pooh movies, but after watching the last one I took a fast look at some of them on youtube. Tigger Movie, for instance, was well animated (though it looked a little more ‘mechanical’ than the recent one). The plot was full of pathos and oversentimental stuff that could be nice enough for children but most adults would find boring. The new Pooh movie had a simple plot but it knew how to make it interestings for both adults and children without going the easy route of the “character feels sad cause he’s alone in the world”.

  • Mike Scibetta

    Took our 3 year old grandson, he was attentive the entire movie, we laughed along with him. I thought the animation was wonderful, and the book & words within the backdrop made it seem much more like reading a bedtime story.
    Want to reemphasize the closing credits, lots of funny animation throughout and with only 6 people left in the once nearly packed theater, we were treated to a final scene that I am quite sure 99% of the viewers missed.

  • cardinalc

    I saw WINNIE THE POOH in mixed company yesteday, (by mixed I mean two adults, a nine year old and a thirteen year old) and I must say that it delighted all of us. From the NESSIE short (with it’s gentle moral – perfect company for films like “Lambert the sheepish Lion”)to the very funny feature itself. While I agree that Eric Goldbergs Rabbit seemed a little too manic at times, I really appreciated the enhanced prominence of Owl (and thought Craig Fergusons vocal work exemplary)
    The backgrounds were stunning – adding a melancholy density to the woods that made them seem more real somehow. I enjoyed the slight but lovely score (Poohs song accompanied by his rumbling tummy was a highlight.) I really thought the animation of Pooh himself was terrific, with great fluid movement and terrific expressions. Another highlight was the animation for Kanga (who, at least to me, seemed to move in a particularly kangaroo-ish way) which seemed superior even to the classic originals.
    And to top it all off, no preachy moral or overstated lesson learned at the end (which the Pooh franchise has been serving up by the truckload of late) just a subtle change of heart in Pooh, learning to care of someones needs before his own.
    I haven’t even mentioned the chalk scene, Rabbits hysterical line drawing fantasy, or the wonderful post-credits “stinger”. All in all, a very enjoyable, funny experience. Do we really need a POOH movie to be more?

  • http://danemartin.blogspot.com Dane Martin

    I certainly would have liked to see the movie slow down and sort of ease into the environment slower. It was so jerky and quick and full of gags, and I remember feeling like the movie never really began. “We’re in Pooh’s house already?” The animation actually moved, and looked OK most of the time (except for that usual gross computer polish on the top of the real animation but I guess that can’t be helped), but to what end? I feel like a movie like this would be so much better without the jokey filler stripped away. That sort of humor wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting but it didn’t fit Winnie the Pooh and it seemed odd. I know we are not going to get a beautiful Ernest Shepherd movie but there is just so much they could have corrected with this new effort… most importantly, the sense of scale and just the whole general flavor of the way the characters interact. Winnie the Pooh is about small creatures in a big world, going to each others houses and eating each others food and being neurotic yet gentle and sort of making the audience feel uneasy and easy at the same time. Chaotic but restrained. Some of this was captured much better than usual but I just wanted to see something that felt grand and real and human and polished. There was a Pooh-Eeyore moment at the end that felt strangely paced for the movie, and it felt nice. More daring moments like that would have made it a more enjoyable experience. Eeyore’s voice really resonated, though. It was perfect. It sounded like someone who has lived a life of pure, unending pain. I guess the movie was a step in the right direction, and as long as we are getting these lifeless, soulless Disneyfied Winnie the Pooh characters, I guess this will have to do, and based on the limitations of the Disney version, I guess it succeeds. But the whole time I was watching it, I kept thinking, “This is well animated and cost so much money and took so many people and those people must have had to have brains and hearts and why can’t this be something special and haunting and real?” It’s just so close! As an addition to the Disney Winnie the Pooh canon, the movie makes perfect sense and is a sensible addition to that empire — it did completely feel a modern, not forced version of the old shorts — but why did it have to be so dead inside? I don’t know much about the animation business but this hollow movie made me feel incomplete and sad.

    • Matt

      I agree with everything, everything you wrote about Pooh. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought this movie felt dead inside.

  • http://www.rubberonion.com Stephen Brooks

    I saw “Winnie the Pooh” this weekend with my brother’s family and my niece. It was her first movie ever (she’s 22 months old). I’ll first start off by saying that it held her attention for the first 25 minutes which is saying a lot if you’ve ever been around a two year old. For me, the first 25 was the slowest and least interesting — it was once they dropped into the hole that the movie clicked for me. It was like a preschool version of an early Seinfeld episode, if that means anything to anyone reading this haha!

    I found that every time Owl was on screen I was excited at where the plot would go since he really was the one playing “plot maker.” There were a couple points that made him seem more self-involved than I remember but it’s forgiven for letting Pooh have a redemptive moment to help his friend Eeyore despite Pooh’s crack-like addiction to honey.

    As for animation, I noticed someone earlier said they didn’t like Tigger’s animation where I thought it fit perfectly. There was a lot of movement but it wasn’t as dizzying or seemingly unnecessary as, say, Rabbit’s. Piglet’s animation was excellent two and the favorite of my Mother-in-Law who was in from Cyprus. She speaks English OK but in movies, especially animated ones, gets a feeling for the character by what they do and how they do it… so, to me, the fact she was giggling at the way Piglet was trying to rise to an occasion was a big win for Bruce Smith (who animated Piglet).

    I legitimately laughed pretty hard during the “Who’s On First”-esque segment in the hole about if Piglet “can tie a knot”, to which Piglet replied “I cannot.” And Owl (?) returned “Oh so you CAN knot!” … that went on for another 30 seconds or so and was good fun for all the adults in the room. The other thing the adults seemed to get a collective kick out of was the Tigger/Eeyore relationship. Also everyone loved the songs sung by Zooey Deschanel

    The final thing I’d like to say is that Jim Cummings did a RIDICULOUSLY good job with the voices of Pooh and Tigger! His Pooh was an impressive likeness to Sterling Holloway and Tigger’s every syllable was an absolute joy to hear.

    I agree that Nessie wasn’t the greatest short ever but I think most importantly to the parents in the movie theater it gave them a buffer to work out the best arrangement of seeing vs food accessibility with their kids before the movie started haha I’m not kidding. Kids talked a little and rearranged themselves and giggled a bit at the duck but weren’t really paying attention… they settled down in time for the start of Pooh though. I know it’s not a review of the short but there’s not much to be said really, but from an effectiveness standpoint on it’s inclusion as the predecessor to a preschool movie it worked just fine.

    BOTTOM LINE: “Winnie the Pooh” is not going to make your jaw drop on the floor, but it’s a solid movie and fits perfectly in the “Winnie the Pooh” animated canon.

  • http://jgchan.blogspot.com Jerry Chan

    This movie is going to be my new go-to example of what it means to do character animation in terms of performance. I think “gorgeously animated” is a huge understatement. The motions and acting were all charming and full of life and personality. Really, ovations to the crew that worked on this film

    And yes, while the animation is certainly much more exaggerated and showy than the originals were, I loved every minute of it. I especially loved Pooh’s subdued/half aloof expressions and motions compared to everything happening around him

    I went to a late night showing of it tonight (so all adults, no kids) and we were all reduced to manic fits of giggles. Without a doubt, probably the most adorable and charming film I’ve ever seen (I think I felt my life expectancy lengthen by about 5 or so years)

    • http://jgchan.blogspot.com Jerry Chan

      I should also add that the moral to the Ballad of Nessie was slightly disturbing– “You can get whatever you want by crying a lot” isn’t a very good life lesson, imo

  • noodlyappendage

    Question:
    Why was the head of cleanup given credit ahead of all the animators?
    I was watching the cleanup line, sometimes, instead of the animation.
    And I was watching my watch and waiting for the picture to end. The constant ‘farce’ mixups got tiresome after a while. Best character animation: Owl, Piglet, and the Backson sequence.
    They can still animate over there, but they can’t tell a story. This picture would have done better as a ten minute short, the padding was all to obvious.
    The Nessie short was completely forgettable.
    I really wanted this to succeed but sadly, felt I paid far too much to see far too little.

  • http://dmgermain.blogspot.com David Germain

    I finally got around to seeing Winnie the Pooh on cheap Tuesday. I thought the story plodded along nicely. The animation was very well done. Eric Goldberg and everyone else has alot to be proud of. That Backson scene in the chalkboard is equally as good as the Ephalumps & Woozles sequence. The songs were forgettable and unnecessary. I don’t remember them breaking out in song too often in the original cartoons. The voice acting was pretty much top notch. They had the a similar spark that the original voices had. That entire department has a lot to be proud of too.

    I was also underwhelmed by that Ballad of Nessie cartoon at the top. It just didn’t hold my interest. I didn’t want her to succeed or the bad guy to fail. I just patiently waited for it to end. And then it did.

    It’s too bad about the poor box office for this thing. I was hoping for more 2D animated movies to come.

    • Roberto

      The Backson Song musical number was good and all, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the Heffalumps and Wuzzles number. Which was a Dumbo rip-off, but still really good.

      If there were something as good and Heffalumps and Wuzzles in the new Winnie The Pooh movie it would be closer to be a classic.

  • Deaniac

    Finally saw this movie today with my brother. It was an utter delight to watch, to say the least. Very charming. Wonderful animation and voice acting all around. I especially liked the visuals during some of the musical numbers, specifically the Backson song and Pooh’s honey withdrawal scene. My only complaint was that it was wayyyy too short. But that’s just a minor nitpick. Everything else was great. Oh, and The Ballad of Nessie was pretty good as well. I really hope “Pooh” makes more money in the next few weeks, I’d hate to see this bomb.

    *MINOR SPOILER*
    Owl flying out of the Backson trap to help Piglet and then flying back into the pit with the rest of the gang had me in STITCHES. That was too great.

  • Matt

    (FLAMESHIELD: Looking at the overwhelming positivity directed at this film, I fully expect to be lambasted for reviewing it from the perspective of “Is it actually a good Pooh film”, and “Is it faithful to the classics”? I’m not too cynical or jaded to enjoy the simplicity and innocence of a modern Disney classic…but as someone who watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh shortly before seeing this new one, I can say with absolute certainty that this isn’t it.)

    In one sense, I’m not at all surprised at how well Cartoon Brew readers are reacting to Winnie the Pooh–it was hilarious and cute, and I was laughing the whole way through–in another, I’m shocked. Where are the A.A. Milne fans? In comment after comment I see people say that this movie recaptures the simplicity and innocence of the Pooh shorts from the 60′s, and to that I say: are you mad? How familiar ARE some of you with the bumbly, tumbly, silly old bear of the 60′s shorts?

    While some of the character motivations ring true (Pooh thinking of only of honey, Tigger of bouncing, and Owl pretending to be smarter than he really is), in terms of pacing the movie ditches the simple, charming, chapter-by-chapter storytelling of the original film in favor of the high speed laugh-a-minute style that so many modern animated films are cursed with. To anyone who watched The Many Adventures of Winnie Pooh recently this is one flaw in Winnie the Pooh that should have stuck out like a sore thumb. In this new sort of Pooh, Pooh Bear can no longer “think…think”. He can only “thinkthink” before Piglet and Rabbit come running in from off-camera screaming about something.

    Beyond just the much faster pace of the film, however, the film has a vague snarkiness to it that must have A.A. Milne and Walt Disney rolling in their respective graves.

    Does anyone honestly think that “classic” Eeyore would have ever said “We’re all gonna die”? The Pooh characters are too innocent to know anything about death. When Rabbit aspires to be the one who rescue Pooh out of the Backson pit, did no one else think it was outrageously out of character for Rabbit to be thinking of money and beautiful women? The writers certainly didn’t think so. They thought they were making a loving tribute to the Disney adaptions of old. At least, that’s what I thought they were making. What I got left a sour taste in my mouth: a classically animated Pooh with a modernized sense of humor. Funny, but in all the wrong ways and for all the wrong reasons.

  • Dan Acton

    Anyone notice the Hunter boots product placement in the first shot?
    \

  • AustinPeasley

    Saw Pooh with my 4 year old yesterday. I really enjoyed it. Far from beign just a kiddie film, I thought there were many very clever things included in it, including The Backson Song, the beginning and end titles, the postscript, and the general book-like layout. One area where Disney continues to have trouble is the music. Since they lost the Sherman brothers, the music in Disney films has become vastly inferior. The Backson song is one of the better efforts, but Disney really needs to do better. Perhaps they could commission songs from a number of artist and chose the best one.