THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH
Originally a series of animated shorts, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh takes viewers to the Hundred Acre Wood, where we are introduced to Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, and several others. Pooh, the main character, is a happy-go-lucky bear who thinks with his stomach more than his head, often landing him in sticky situations. His friends Rabbit and Piglet are kind, but nervous. Eeyore's always depressed. Kanga is the perfect mother to her son, Roo. All the animals listen to Christopher Robin. (Based on author A. A. Milne's son, Christopher Robin comes and goes from the Hundred Acre Wood at will. Since the residents of the Wood are all his toys, he's their leader and creator.)
To be honest, I've never been much of a Pooh fan. I know I watched the movie as a kid, but it was never a favorite. I always preferred the 'Renaissance' movies like The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and The Lion King. When watching the film last night, I was surprised that the one Pooh story I do remember clearly - Pooh invents a game of throwing sticks in the river, called Pooh-sticks - isn't actually in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. That short film, Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore, was released about five years after the movie collecting the first three Pooh shorts.
The three stories found in the movie are Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. They're presented as chapters from a book, tied together by a Narrator. At times, the text and pages of the book are visible, and the animators play with them for some neat effects. In one scene, the Narrator 'tilts' the book on its side so that Tigger can stand on the edges of the text, freeing himself from a tree. In another scene, the wind blows the words right of the page because it's such a very blustery day. It's pretty neat to see.
There's some recycled animation, particularly in regard to Tigger. Since the three mini-stories were originally shown separately, his "Wonderful Thing About Tiggers" song repeats multiple times, using the same dance sequence every time. It only works because Tigger himself is so freakin' nuts.
There's no villain in the movie, which just seems so weird. The movie seems like a nostalgic rambling through childhood innocence and a celebration of a kid's imagination. It's charming and sweet, a little sleepy and slow. But it isn't compelling - at least not to me - because there's no tension and no drama. I mean, can you really, passionately care about whether tubby little Pooh gets the honey he craves? I sure can't.
A little sweet, a little fun, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a nice diversion, but not one of Disney's best offerings.