In 1977, Disney Animation Studios released the last feature film that ever directly involved Walt Disney in the production. It collected three short films starring Winnie the Pooh and his friends in the enchanted forest. There have been a couple other theatrical Winnie the Pooh releases since, but not through the main studio. In 2011, Disney Animation Studios would finally release their second Pooh bear feature film, simply titled Winnie the Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh had a much smaller budget than pretty much all the Disney Animated Features since the early Renaissance days, at only $30 million. It marks a return to traditional animation with minimal use of CGI, matching the visual storybook feel of the original short collection. It received very positive critical and audience reception.
Unfortunately it didn’t perform all that well, earning only $50 million worldwide. A lot of that can be blamed on the timing of the film’s release – the same weekend as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. The massive finale to the Harry Potter franchise completely overshadowed a movie that probably would have performed much better at a less competitive time of the year.
This movie perfectly matches the tone of the original feature film. It’s about a bunch of nice characters having strange adventures. There’s a generally pleasant atmosphere through the whole thing, with a touch of comedy every now and then. Most people have at least heard of this franchise and some of its characters, like Eeyore the donkey, Tigger, Christopher Robin and of course Winnie the Pooh bear.
The storybook feel goes a bit further this time, with a couple moments where the fourth wall is broken entirely. There’s one scene where a bunch of the characters are stuck in a pit, and somehow a bunch of letters from the storybook fall down into the pit and form a kind of ladder, letting them out. The narrator, voiced by Monty Python alumni John Cleese, often interacts with Winnie directly. There is some very clever comedy sprinkled throughout the movie.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh consisted of three shorts bridged by a narrator and the turning of pages in the storybook. Each short contained a few smaller storied within. This movie only really has two storied, stretched out further and developed more. In one, Eeyore is missing his tail and the others try to figure out some way to replace it. In the other, Christopher Robin leaves a very poorly spelled note before heading to school. Everyone’s afraid that some monster took him, and they go hunting for the monster. Each story is charming in its own way. The only real complaint one might have is that this movie might feel shorter than it is because there are fewer stories compared to the original. Personally I think it works fine either way, and I like how the two stories end up kind of tying together by the end.
Even though this kind of movie isn’t normally my thing, I enjoyed this one. I don’t really have anything else to say about Winnie the Pooh that I didn’t already talk about in my “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” post. It’s barely over an hour long even with the credits. If you’re a Winnie the Pooh fan who somehow hasn’t seen this one, you really should. As for anyone else, you could probably find a couple clips on YouTube, and if you enjoy the clips, you’ll enjoy the movie.
It really is a shame that this movie didn’t do too well. Not only because it deserved to do better. Because it didn’t perform all that well, Disney hasn’t released a traditionally animated movie since. All that after The Princess and the Frog’s mild success convinced the studio to release a traditionally animated movie every couple years or so. As much as I don’t really care whether a movie is animated traditionally or with CGI, I do miss traditional animation. I wonder how far they could have pushed it by now, or what other creative approaches they could have undertaken.
Next up is Wreck it Ralph, which I’ve only seen once before. After that there are only four movies left, and I’ve previously seen two of them. What follows Wreck It Ralph is currently the most profitable animated movie of all time, Frozen. That’s followed by Big Hero 6, which is a movie I feel like I should have seen a while ago (it’s loosely based on an obscure Marvel comic). We’re fast approaching the end of this blog project. I’ll most likely take a month or so off of movie blog posts after that, because as fun as this has been, I’m falling behind on other things because of it.