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.