Winnie the Pooh (2011) Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall

Production Budget: $30 million

Worldwide Gross: $33 million

When I first heard of this movie bombing I had a feeling of the general audience letting me down (as if anyone really owes me anything but anyway…).  Whenever a remake or reboot of an old franchise comes out like the Smurfs or Alvin and the Chipmonks it is usually slammed as being a betrayal of the original source material and god awful marketing crap and blah blah blah.  Meanwhile you get a movie which stays about as faithful as you can to the original look and feel (while simultaneously being a very enjoyable story) and it is a failure at the box office.

But there were many things which let this movie down.  One was the extremely befuddling decision to release this in the summer movie months.  It is hard for any movie to compete against a blockbuster like Harry Potter or Captain America, while simultaneously competing with other kids movies like a Smurfs.  I mentioned earlier when this movie first came out that it would seem a better idea to release this closer to the beginning of the year.  The beginning of the year is a dead zone where most studios dump their crap like Atari dumping so many cartridges of ET.  But that would actually work in the favor of Pooh because there would be no competition for the same audience and parents would be desperate to take them to anything good.  I would certainly want to be opening next to Country Strong, The Dilemma, and The Green Hornet rather than Harry Potter, Captain America, and Smurfs.

Another thing which did hurt the movie was the running time.  Pooh itself is only about 56 minutes.  In theaters I think they had a 20 minute short but on my DVD they didn’t have it.  I know I always talk about how I would rather have an awesome short movie than a mediocre long one.  The problem is I’m not a parent.  I spoke with many friends who are parents and who really wanted to see a great Pooh movie but who didn’t want to go to the theater.  They want something that will occupy their children’s attention for more than an hour and it is especially bad with ticket prices.  Can you really justify spending money on tickets for the whole family, food, and beverages for something that is over relatively quick?  Maybe they should have done another short to pad out the run time even more.  But if there is a silver lining it is that I think this movie is much better suited to the DVD market than the theater market.  It is nothing to rent this from Blockbuster/Red Box/Netflix/Video on Demand/etc. compared to the money you spend at the theater.  It will definetly be more of a hit now.  Now with that being said, let me get on with the review.

Now I usually don’t go in for kids movies much nowadays but I found this rather charming.  You immediately get on my good side for not trying to be in 3D, for having more traditional animation, and not having it be an endless parade of pop culture references.  It’s simple, and I love that.  To me, the animation in this movie is much more beautiful than most faux Pixar movies are.  The characters are classic, and don’t need to be transported to modern times or put in an new setting.  You can see the care and effort put into this movie.  You have some new voice talent like Craig Fergugon for Owl that are really fun in the role.  Even some music by Zooey Daschenel add to the overall charm of the movie.

The story has the characters searching for Christopher Robin as he is missing.  He leaves a note saying he will be “back soon” but is misinterpreted as being taken by a Backsun.  The gang try to capture this Backsun while also trying to find Eeyore’s lost tail.  There isn’t much to the story but it perfectly allows all the characters to get involved in the action.  Tigger wants to fight it, Owl wants to be the leader, Eeyore is…indifferent, and Pooh is wondering if there is any honey in it for him.  Each character has their own moment to shine and the music is actually pretty good.

If you are a fan of Winnie the Pooh, then I think you will really enjoy this movie.  The voice talent is just as good and the material is clever enough to make you rediscover why they were so lovable in the first place.  Care and attention are brought to the producion with is nostalgic and charming.  And while the movie is about 56 minutes, to me it fits the amount of story they had and, as I mentioned before, is better suited to home rental than spending a ton of money at the theaters.  This is a kids movie so I can’t give a total recommendation to it.  But if you love the old Pooh cartoons or have kids then you should definetly check it out.



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