It’s really amazing that we’re only two years out from the rather underwhelming Princess and the Frog, Disney’s last major outing into traditional animation. Amazing because while that movie had a ton of problems both story-wise and in the quality of animation, Winnie the Pooh represents an amazing shift to the kind of classic, character-driven work that they’re known for. The pencil-work Pooh is known for returns, and the modern flourishes don’t feel particularly out of place. Inventing with such well-known characters is hard, but it manages particularly creative sequences in two of its musical numbers.
I’ll admit I’m a sucker for all things Pooh, but they totally nailed the sweet, slow, warm-hearted tone of the original Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh shorts. This new Winnie the Pooh is a short, light day spent catching up on old friends who have barely changed in the decades since they first arrived. It’s nothing earth-shattering, but that’s always been the appeal of Pooh. Other movies are more ambitious, but few things feel as magical and childlike as the Hundred Acre Wood and its denizens, and the earnestness and warmth are sorely lacking in most animation these days, no matter who its coming from.
Specific note must be given to the really amazing short that opens the film, which evokes earlier-era Disney of the 40s and 50s with a confidence that makes you think they never stopped making quality shorts. And also the inspired choice of Zooey Deschanel and M Ward to do much of the incidental music. Deschanel has a voice that evokes long days and beloved, well-worn toys. It manages to feel modern but appropriately timeless in the same breath, no mean feat when Disney churns out a bunch of forgettable pop music it likes to slap on most of its properties.