Winnie the Pooh

In this age of bigger and badder 3D, buffoonish antics, talking CG animals, gross-out humor, and other mindless concoctions designed to capture the attention of the elementary school set, Winnie the Pooh is just about as refreshing, nice, and pleasant as they come.

Based lightly on a smattering of different stories from A.A. Milne’s classic tomes, Winnie the Pooh tells the tale of the beloved, animated stuffed animals, each of which has a pesky little problem they’re trying to solve. Pooh (duh) is hungry and needs honey, Eeyore has lost his tail and needs a replacement, and everyone is searching for young Christopher Robin, who, they fear, has been kidnapped by the dreaded Backson monster. (He left behind a note saying ‘Back soon’. Owl can’t read as well as he claims. Confusion and panic ensue.)

There’s nothing here that you haven’t seen before in the Hundred Acre Wood and, frankly, thank heavens. The hand-drawn animation is just as vivid as it’s always been, and the music is so amazingly tame and wholesome that you may find yourself flinching, worried about an off-color lyric that is no doubt on the way. Fear not. There’s nothing but silliness at play here.

And, of course, all the old favorites (and only the old favorites) are back. (As cute as Lumpy was back in 2005’s Pooh’s Heffalump Movie, if your name isn’t Kanga, Roo, Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Tigger, or Eeyore, these aren’t your woods. Sorry.)

Jim Cummings lends his delicious voice to the festivities, bringing Pooh and Tigger to life just as he has for the past two decades. Plus we also get TV host Craig Ferguson as Owl, Spongebob’s Tom Kenny as Rabbit, and John Cleese as the narrator.

Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall (Meet the Robinsons) stayed true to the old-time formula, and the result is a perfectly entertaining, perfectly gentle adventure.

This is vintage Disney animation and vintage Pooh. At just over an hour in length (call it one-fifteen with the nifty little “Ballad of Nessie” short that precedes it), Winnie the Pooh is just about as excellent an introduction to movie-theater movies as parents of the under-five set could hope for.

And parents, for once, will be glad to sit right there with them.

4/5 stars