World of pooh

Disney’s G-rated shakedown

Winnie the Pooh
Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated G.
Rated 2.0

I’ve never been a fan of the Walt Disney brand of classic animation. Granted, they are not painful to watch. Even colorful and trippy at times. And there was a time when the studio was sort of cuddly, like a warm blanket draped over the shoulders while Uncle Walt patted you on the head and spoke in reassuring tones. But somewhere along the line, the Mouse Factory turned evil. (Never trust a mustache.) The ’60s Pooh line of low-fi toy commercials might have been the first step on that long trek into commercial Mordor.

Think I’m indulging in hyperbole? Then take a step back and look at this latest package released into theaters. A long-awaited return to the hand-drawn form by Walt Disney Animation Studios (as opposed to their CGI brand, Pixar), Winnie the Pooh is sporadically amusing, even to a sour adult like me. It delivers with the nostalgic warm-and-fuzzies. Which is what makes it sad that they’ve had their traditional animators—the hands responsible for the animation that gave the form its credibility—hunched like monks over the drawing boards, hard at work reproducing the weakest efforts of the studio in order to deliver a 50-minute-or-so toy commercial.

Yeah, although this theatrical release is listed as running at an economical 69 minutes, nine of those minutes are closing credits. Granted, there’s a punchline at the end of those credits, and a short to start the show, but really? A 50-minute feature film? Disney isn’t even trying to hide the evil at this point.

And for some reason they needed seven people to come up with this story to fill those 50 minutes: Pooh gets hungry, Eeyore loses his tail and Christopher Robin goes missing while everyone else runs around trying to figure out how to capture a miscommunication. I know this is geared toward toddlers, but you’d think seven people paid to come up with a story might be able to put their collective wits together and actually deliver a narrative. But no bother here.

If you’re only looking for an hour of shiny to keep your toddler entertained at the theater, Winnie the Pooh delivers. There’s even a pro-reading message at work here. Which is nice, but suspiciously predatory. Buy the books on your way through the gift shop, eh?