Disney’s latest film lovingly captures the magic of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories and poems, which have been enchanting children and their parents for 85 years. They were a sort of earlier “Toy Story,” with the adventures of Christopher Robin’s stuffed tiger, kangaroo, donkey, and most of all his bear of very little brain, sometimes known as Edward Bear but known to his friends as Pooh. Milne’s simple prose was a peek into the world of a child’s imagination, including play but also including fear and anxiety and reassurance and friendship. Children enjoyed the fanciful tales but what resonates so compellingly to audiences of all ages is the narrator’s voice, gentle, understanding, and with great affection and acceptance for all of its characters.
All of this is beautifully brought to life in this brief 68-minute film that is one of the rare movies genuinely suitable for the whole family. It combines two of the books’ best stories. Eeyore loses his tail. A misunderstanding has the friends worried that Christoper Robin has been kidnapped by a terrible monster called the Backson. In both, the friends work together
The reason that is reassuring on such a deep level is that each of the characters is an aspect of each of us and each of their struggles and mistakes feels very true to us. Eeyore is the pessimistic and insecure voice that represents our worries and Tigger is us at our most ebullient and confident. Piglet is anxious and fearful. Kanga is the loving parent who represents the superego. And Pooh is that most elemental of ids, wanting to do the right thing and be a good friend but always led by his tummy’s love for honey. Their minor struggles are endearing and their support for one another — like the song they sing when it appears one of them has found a tail for Eeyore and won the prize — is heartwarming.
There is some charming music from M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel and an adorable “who’s on first”-style wordplay mix-up. John Cleese provides the narration, Spongebob’s Tom Kinney is the voice of the Owl, and Jim Cummings takes over for both Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell as Pooh and Tigger. It is a pleasure to spend time in the 100 acre woods with these old friends and share their adventures, a welcome reminder that while we must leave childhood, we can come back soon.
Armistead Maupin used this lovely passage for the title of one of his Tales of the City books.
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh,” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
Parents should know that this film includes some very mild peril (mostly imagined by the characters).
Family discussion: How did the animals help and support each other? When did you think something was scary only to find out it was just your imagination? Why does everything look like honey to Pooh?
If you like this, try: the books by A.A. Milne