Director: Stephen Anderson, Don Hall
During a movie season where sequels have invaded the cinemas to perpetuate the idea that the loudest and the shallowest means the better, it's refreshing that one of the best movies to come out so far is this small, almost impossibly cute adaptation of A.A. Milne's stories starring Winnie the Pooh.
This is the fifth theatrical release starring the honey-obsessed bear and his friends and as such, it's remarkable to see how in a way the series has evolved while preserving its classic values. As has become the norm, Pooh is in search of honey but in the process he gets caught in adventures that include finding Eeyore's lost tail, facing a mysterious creature named the Backson and trying to rescue his dear friend Christopher Robin.
By now, these characters have become so defined by the generations of fans who have grown to love them, that it's quite safe to say that there's nowhere completely groundbreaking where the filmmakers could take this movie. However, even in their iconic simplicity the characters are lovable and manage to engage you in their adventures.
From the blase attitude of Eeyore, to the hyperactive nature of Tigger, the characters remain who they always have been and you really can't hold anything against them. It's a real treat to listen to Pooh question the narrator (none other than John Cleese in this occasion) and a large portion of the film's sequences often remind us that this is a tale being told. The filmmakers more than ever pay tribute to Pooh's literary origins and in a charming manner manage to convey the idea of watching words be put in motion.
The animation is absolutely breathtaking, with the characters handdrawn using bold strokes that contrast beautifully with the watercolor backgrounds. While Winnie the Pooh lacks the sophistication that has made animated films so appealing to adults in recent years, it holds on to grown ups using nostalgia and adequately does so without overstaying its welcome.
At a brisk running time of an hour and a couple of minutes the film's cuteness won't result unbearable for adults and its message won't be too complicated for children. It serves as a perfect generational bond.
The soundtrack features songs performed with twee delight by Zooey Deschanel, which also go perfectly with the film's mood and intention. Winnie the Pooh is the cinematic equivalent of a big mug of hot cocoa with just the right amount of marshmallows.