The three 1960s Walt Disney cinema shorts based on A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh characters were enormously successful, won Academy Awards and have inspired at least one authentic masterpiece remix (go online and search for Apocalypse Pooh). But they never really clicked in Britain, where we tend to associate the Hundred Acre Wood with tweedy eccentric readings from the likes of Alan Bennett, Willie Rushton or David Davies (not the MP) and cringe at the American voices imposed on the characters. Things have not been helped by a run of cheapo spinoffs, like The Tigger Movie. This is a sincere attempt to stick a little closer to the tone of the books, down to getting a proper British kid to voice Christopher Robin and employing John Cleese as a narrator who argues with Pooh as he wanders through the story.
There are two plot-hooks here, derived from the stories. Eeyore has lost his tail, and Christopher Robin promises a big pot of honey to whoever finds it, which leads to competition among the stuffed animal cast, and impractical tail substitutes like an anchor or a balloon (the balloon is a major character here). Then, C.R. disappears, leaving a note saying he’ll be ‘back soon’, which Owl interprets as meaning that he’s been kidnapped by a scary beast called a Backson, prompting the digging of a trap everyone naturally falls into. Longtime readers will recognise elements of the ‘hunt for the heffalump’ story, but heffalumps must have a stronger anti-defamation league than in the old days because they’re not even mentioned. Throughout, Pooh is jonesing for honey like a crack-deprived junkie on The Wire, hitting up his connections and getting only empty pots, having delirious visions of swimming in the stuff, and tormented by an angry rumbling stomach.
There’s charm and ingenuity in the classical animation, but the script is literally dumbed down – the joke is that everyone is stupid, which makes Pooh’s ‘bear of little brain’ act less distinctive – and the new songs are just horrid. Barely an hour long, with two excruciating shorts – some Neverland pirates and Captain Hook squabble over a goldfish, Billy Connolly narrates tartan guff about the Loch Ness Monster – thrown in to pad out the program. Parents, take down the books and read them to the kids, doing funny voices and trying not to sniffle in the heart-breaking last chapter … it’s better for them and for you than supporting this corporate whimsy.
Silja Sample Thanks for that. The kids love the old movie (esp the Heffelump dream sequence), but we may end up giving this one a miss.
Rich Flannagan The American voices did grate a little, but have you heard Mr. Scatterbrain on The Mr. Men Show on Channel 5? Even worse.
Joseph Hollies I’d say I was disappointed/underwhelmed with the film, (perhaps I wearing Kermodeon glasses so to speak) as it lacked some of the weird-scares of the original shorts (e.g. the build-up to Tigger’s entrance in ‘…and The Blustery Day’ and Rabbit being lost in the woods in ‘…and Tigger Too’. (That said, the one thing I REALLY didn’t like as a child while the previous things mentioned might be a bit creepy, were the bees swarming out of the tree at the conclusion of ‘…and the Honey Pot’). The closest this one comes to being weird/scary (perhaps with exception to the growling stomach) was Pooh hallucinating his friends as honey pots and Piglet’s encounter with a tree.
Sylvia Starshine ‘Disneypoo’ a sacrilege and if they actually bothered to have read the books, Poo has a gruff voice…
Jago Turner I’m afraid that Disney completely missed the wit of Winnie the Pooh and turned it into something that was only suitable for small children. The brilliance of AA Milne’s writing has been captured numerous times by various stage productions and recording…See more
Nigel Bird You have to be one hell of a stone faced critic to dislike these films.
Dean Geoghegan I find the american voices irritating but presumably Kanga and Roo should sound like the cast of Neighbours or Home And Away.
Callum Stewart I kinda like the sound of those shorts.
Fraser MacDonald The definitive dramatised version of Winnie the Pooh is the audio version produced by David Benedictus. It stars Stephen Fry as Pooh, Sandi Toksvig as Tigger and Geoffrey Palmer as Eeyore. We used to also have Willie Rushton’s `(70’s?) ackanory version of the story on a VHS that I bought in Abu Dhabi many years ago…
10 July 2011 at 14:50 · LikeShow More Reactions
Dean Geoghegan I would have put Stephen Moore as the ideal Eeyore…the erudite Mr Fry (friend of the royals) is too over present in the media (along with John Barrowman) – Fry should be a good Mycroft though.
Jonathan Owen English children’s literature often presents this intractability to American adaptation – personally though I loved the Pooh shorts. I don’t relish the forthcoming CGI version of The Wind in the Willows, and Guillermo del Toro apparently pulled out of an earlier such attempt, complaining about the scriptwriters’ insistence on having Toad saying “Hey dude” and such. That said, the 1980s Rankin/Bass version of TWITW is one of the few versions I’ve seen to retain the peculiar Edwardian pastoral mysticism of Grahame’s original…
Dean Geoghegan I loved the version with Matt Lucas as Toad – looking forward to the Michael Bay version.
Christopher James Mace Winnie-The-Pooh appears in a Sherlock Holmes-Dracula story along with the book’s two authors. It’s name escapes me, though… [doh].
Dean Geoghegan Not slash fiction I hope, though it would explain the bear’s name – LOL
Christopher James Mace No no. It’s name is… [he bottom-bars Facebook to search, and discovers it is…] ‘The Probability Pad’ by T.A. Waters and Michael Kurland.