Published Jul 14, 2011I've never been sure what to make of Winnie the Pooh's single-minded, borderline sociopathic pursuit of honey, or "hunny," rather. Seemingly, it relates to id impulse versus ego pragmatism, given the overriding morality of sacrificing personal instinct for the needs of others in most Pooh tales. But, still, the zombie-like simplicity of a plump bear relentlessly looking for food makes me a little angry no matter how sweet natured or well intentioned he might be.
In a roundabout way, this very notion is the glue that holds together the three original Pooh tales interwoven in this brief, but wholly entertaining and cleverly executed children's fable about working together and valuing difference.
Using the original hand drawn animation style, Winnie the Pooh integrates the plight of Eeyore's lost tail, a journey to find the seemingly kidnapped Christopher Robin and the gang's struggle to escape from a hole in the ground. It's done primarily with gags of a vernacular and syntactical nature, playing off the misunderstandings and misinterpretations of solipsistic, archetypal characters, each motivated by different worldly outlooks. Eeyore's pessimism fuels Pooh's well-intentioned ignorance, which is in turn aided by Piglet's alacrity and so on.
It's the specified differences and wide array of voices talking at each other, rather than to, which propel the comic trajectory. Since we, as the audience, can see the bigger picture – something that each character fails to do, in varying ways – our amusement stems from the chaotic nature in which miscommunication can convolute even the simplest of tasks.
Few children's films manage to integrate genuine laughs suitable for kids and adults alike in such an innocent, refreshingly un-hip manner, having fun with words and infectious songs rather than broad set pieces and jokes of a scatological nature.
Even if Pooh's intentional simplicity can be frustrating, this wonderfully rendered and sincere family parable manages something rare: it maintains humour and whimsy without sacrificing intellect and focus. (Buena Vista)