Directed by: John Lounsbery/Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons/Ralph Wright/Vance Gerry/Xavier Atencio/Ken Anderson/Julius Svendsen/Ted Berman/Eric Cleworth
Based on stories by: AA Milne
I was a little hesitant on this one. I know it’s a classic and I know that, since it’s a Disney animated feature, I had to watch it as part of this project. But Winnie The Pooh is so super cutesy. As much as I like and admire the mythos of Pooh and his friends (and the fact that each one of them is the embodiment of a mental illness), I had a feeling that I would be disappointed in the movie. I love animation, but when it’s too young I just don’t get into it. My Neighbor Totoro is an amazing film, but it’s my least favorite of all of the Ghibli films that I’ve seen. It skews far too young for me. This is my problem. I know that.
This movie didn’t fall into that category. Yes, it skews for very small children. But the characters are so charming (even Rabbit, who is kind of a monster) that I couldn’t help but fall in love with them. My favorites were Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet.
And, of course, Pooh himself. He was much more sardonic than I thought he would be. He truly is a silly old bear, but he’s pretty sarcastic, too. And kind of a jerk when he’s taking care of his habit.
The film is made up of four shorts about Christopher Robin’s crew of stuffed animals, three of which were made up to a decade before. (This is the last film that Walt had any involvment in. One short was released before he died and the second was being produced when he died.)
Winnie The Pooh And The Honey Tree (1966) is about Pooh’s addiction to honey. He does everything he can to get some honey straight from the source only to end up eating all of Rabbit’s supply. All of it. Then he gets stuck in Rabbit’s doorway because he’s gotten too big to fit through.
Winnie The Pooh And The Blustery Day (1968) is the most famous short. It’s about a particularly windy day. This is our introduction to Piglet. He’s a nervous little one. Apparently, there was a huge British backlash against the first short because he wasn’t in there, so they introduced him with a vengeance.
Piglet lives in a tall tree that has been in his family for generations. (Two, at least.) Owl lives in another tree that gets blown down. For some reason, Eeyore decides that Owl should move into Piglet’s house and Piglet gives his house up instead of saying, “Um. Excuse me. This is my house. Please find somewhere else to live.” They all decide that he’s a hero and he goes to live with Pooh.
Other than Piglet’s weird sacrifice, it’s a great short.
Winnie The Pooh And Tigger, Too (1974) is our introduction to Tigger, the manic tiger. He bounces on everyone (including a very angry Rabbit) and bounds his way into Pooh’s house. Here, he finds out that he hates honey. Only heffalumps and woozles like honey!
This is where things get super weird and Dumbo-esque. Pooh has a dream about heffalumps and woozles that plays out almost exactly like the Pink Elephants On Parade sequence in the earlier film.
The final sequence is much shorter and is based on the end of House On Pooh Corner where Pooh and Christopher Robin say goodbye to each other. It’s pretty bittersweet, but it’s the way the film had to end. I’m interested to see what the sequel is like. (Of course, since it’s about a grown Christopher Robin, it has to be live-action…and star Ewan McGregor.)
So, yeah. I loved this movie WAY more than I thought I would. I’m hoping that other later Pooh movies are at least half as good.