Photo Credit: Disney
Winnie the Pooh opens the weekend! Here's everything you need to know before heading out to see Pooh, Tiger, Piglet, and the gang from Common Sense Media.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this big-screen take on Winnie the Pooh is as sweet and gentle as the original Disney cartoons, making it accessible for even the youngest movie-goers (ages 3 and up, and maybe even some 2 year olds) and a fine pick for little ones' first movie). Preschoolers and early elementary-aged children may not understand the way the narrator speaks to the characters (who also interact with the letters and words on the screen), but it won't get in the way of their enjoyment. The sequence in which the mysterious "Backson" monster is described could mildly frighten some tots, but otherwise this is a faithful adaptation of A.A. Milne's classic tales.
What's the story?
Winnie the Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) loves his honey, but he can't seem to find any in the Hundred Acre Wood. On his search for the sugary treat, he encounters his mopey donkey friend Eeyore (Bud Luckey), who has somehow lost his tail. Pooh and his pals -- Piglet (Travis Oates), Owl (Craig Ferguson), Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and Roo (Wyatt Dean Hall), and Rabbit (Tom Kenny) -- hold a contest to find Eeyore another tail, but there doesn't seem to be a suitable replacement. One morning, Christopher Robin leaves a note saying "Gon out. Bizy. Back Son," which know-it-all Owl presumes means that some creature called a "Backson" has somehow kidnapped Christopher Robin. That leads the animal friends to another collaborative effort to search for and save their human buddy -- but of course they're the ones who end up needing rescuing.
Is it any good?
With its old-fashioned animation and easy-to-follow storylines, Winnie the Pooh is one of those rare children's movies that's both simple and sweet. Like the beloved books on which the animated characters are based, there's no artifice or trendy references, just funny jokes (behold the comeback of the "Who's on First" routine), cheery musical numbers, and the occasional wink-wink to parents in the audience (who will laugh more than they ever thought possible in a Pooh flick).
Although the movie is really two intertwined vignettes (the pals search for Eeyore's tail and then try to trap the enigmatic Backson), at barely over an hour, there's no time for the plot to lag or bore even kids who can't read. That said, literate children will get an extra bonus of seeing how the characters form objects and words with the letters on screen, and adults will enjoy John Cleese's narrator, who talks directly to the enchanted animals. The Pooh is back, and thanks to sticking closely to A. A. Milne's roots, Disney has a winning little film for kids who love the fluff-stuffed bear.