Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Winnie The Pooh

I’m disappointed that Winnie the Pooh is just shown on two theaters (Glorietta and Greenbelt 3) here in the Philippines. Usually Ayala Cinemas exclusive films are those art house types or niche films that has a limited appeal that a wide release would not do it any favor but a children’s movie starring a popular animated brand? It just shows that with the rise of CGI animated fare, the traditional form of animation has gone out of style in terms of box office draw. I hope that even in limited capacity Winnie The Pooh will be seen by a lot of viewers here. The movie is so different with recent animated flicks that graced the wide screen yet it feels familiar and true.

Pooh wakes up one morning and craves for honey but he can’t find any in his house. On his way to find honey he ran into Eeyore who’s sad because his tale is missing. Pooh and his friends Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Owl and Christopher Robin help him find a replacement to no luck. Later on Christopher Robin disappears and the gang suspects a creature took him away and they must help him escape from it.

Winnie The Pooh stories have always been simple and safe. The conflicts are always often caused by misunderstandings and misinterpretations and this movie is no different. But the gentle & sweet nature of the characters wins you over that even if the stakes in the story are not high you can’t help but fall for its charms.

The animation in the movie is simply lovely. The colors come to life and as a kid remarked to her mom on the theater I watched this “it’s beautiful”. It truly is. There’s no denying that CGI gave the animation industry an edge to take the genre to a more adventurous and exciting direction but hand drawn animation will always have a certain charm because it feels more intimate and soothing. To be fair, CGI also helped this as the movie is structured as a storybook with the characters interacting with the letters, paragraphs and typography but it was done in a way that does not take away the essence of traditional animation.

The voice cast did a good job and most notably Jim Cummings who voices both Pooh and Tigger. It takes a sheer amount of talent to breath life to two vastly different and iconic characters. Craig Ferguson voiced the know-it-all Owl and he really got into the character and not just maximizes his voice as most celebrity voice castings do. The songs in the movie are true to the spirit of the story and are quite catchy as well. I think it’s perfect that they got Zooey Deschanel to sing the theme as her voice suits the gentle and adorable nature of the movie.

Winnie the Pooh is essentially a love letter to a child’s imagination. AA Milne based it from his son, the real Christoper Robin, and the games he play with his stuffed toys. This new movie from the “Pooh” brand did a splendid job of introducing the characters to a new generation yet respects and honors the legacy of Pooh and his friends. One can’t help but feel nostalgic watching this movie as you remember the days when you were a young child playing with your toys and assigning them characters and concocting up stories. In our minds the world our toys live in is vibrant, colorful and the movie perfectly captured that feeling. Winnie the Pooh is ultimately a children’s movie but it’s nice reminder to us adults of how the simple things in life are magical. 9.5 / 10

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