Movie review: ‘Winnie the Pooh’

In theaters

“Winnie the Pooh,” directed by Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall, 69 minutes, rated G.

I never thought I would see the day when I could call Pooh “the alternative.” Yet, here he is, defying the conventions set by mainstream animation in “Winnie the Pooh.”

Clocking in at under 70 minutes (unheard of for a movie these days), “Winnie the Pooh” isn’t available in 3-D. And it isn’t even computer generated. It’s hand-drawn, and not only is it content with being hand-drawn, it revels in it – like Pooh in a vat of honey. To present these characters (Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet and the rest) any other way would be a travesty.

The new film takes audiences back to the Hundred Acre Wood, where Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) has gone missing. There’s a note left in the child’s handwriting, but poor Pooh (Jim Cummings) is nearly illiterate, and his friends aren’t much better.

The gang brings the letter to Owl (Craig Ferguson), who takes pride in being the smartest in all the land However, he confuses the words “Back Soon” for “Backson” – the most evil monster you could ever imagine. Surely, Christopher Robin has been kidnapped by The Backson.

The myth of The Backson grows as the friends put their minds together, devising a plan to catch The Backson and rescue Christopher Robin.

Meanwhile, Pooh is trying to feed the beast known as his tummy, and an ongoing contest between the friends looks to replace Eeyore’s tail, which has gone missing. The reward for the winner? A jar of honey.

Fans of “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” will recognize and appreciate the comedy here, as they take a stroll down memory lane with characters and a setting that haven’t changed a bit. There’s a comfort in finding everything in the Hundred Acre Wood exactly the way it was left, like a blanket you’ve held on to your whole life.

Zooey Deschanel provides some music that is both old and new in style, including a rendition of Pooh’s theme. It captures the essence of “Winnie the Pooh,” and gives the movie a little kick while maintaining its sense of nostalgia. After all, that’s what this film is all about.

“Winnie the Pooh” is everything that modern children’s movies are not – mostly because it has class and maintains its dignity (there’s no Mater here) while having fun. The film is so enjoyable, in all its hand-drawn glory, that it stands to have an outside shot of an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Grade: B+

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