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Winnie the Pooh(2011)
The first big-screen Pooh adventure from Disney animation in more than 35 years. Owl sends the whole gang -- Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore -- on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit. It turns out to be a very busy day for a bear who simply set out to find some hunny.
For more about Winnie the Pooh and the Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray release, see Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 14, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jim Cummings, Bud Luckey, Craig Ferguson, Travis Oates, Tom Kenny
Narrator: John Cleese
Directors: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall
» See full cast & crew
Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray Review
"Perhaps I could borrow some honey. Just a taste. A small lick I should think..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 14, 2011
At just 63-minutes, it would all too easy to write off Winnie the Pooh as a lightweight bit of kiddie entertainment. And while that wouldn't be entirely untrue, it wouldn't leave room for the possibility, the very real possibility as it turns out, that a lightweight bit of kiddie entertainment could be every bit as disarming, charming and endearing as a more substantial animated film. (I would have never dreamed I'd react with such affection toward Winnie the Pooh and such utter indifference towards a Pixar production like Cars 2, and yet here we are.) I'm not sure exactly what it was that drew me so deeply into Disney's return to the Hundred Acre Wood, except to say it was a culmination of everything, be it the wistful hand-drawn animation and painterly backgrounds, the sweetly subdued work of the voice cast, the clever use of a storybook as a framing device and the interaction between the animals and its words, the perfectly pleasant music, or the childlike cheerfulness of the film's whimsy and adventure. As I sat smiling with my family, laughing and forgetting the worries of the world for sixty-three playful minutes, I felt like a kid again. And I don't say that lightly.
Winnie the Pooh tells the most minimal of tales yet somehow manages to evoke far more than such simplistic storytelling usually affords. When gloomy stuffed donkey Eeyore (voiced by Bud Luckey) loses his tail, young Christopher Robin (Jack Boutler), Pooh (Jim Cummings), Owl (Craig Ferguson), Rabbit (Tom Kenny), Piglet (Travis Oates), Tigger (Cummings), Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and Roo (Wyatt Dean Hall) band together to help their sullen friend. Try as they might, though -- with an umbrella, a yo-yo, a cuckoo clock and more -- they're unable to find a suitable replacement. They continue their search until Christopher Robin goes missing, a mystery that Owl, after misreading a note that says the boy will be "back soon," attributes to the dreaded Backson, a creature he claims lives in the forest. Of course, a missing boy and a monster trump a missing tail, so Pooh and his friends concoct a plan to capture the Backson and save Christopher Robin. Whether Pooh can repress his cravings for honey long enough to help is another matter...
What follows is a misadventure in miscommunication, naiveté and innocence that, in an age of computer-animated features brimming with conflict, peril and soul-searching, seems positively quaint and fanciful. There are no grudges in the Hundred Acre Wood, no hopeless dead ends or moments of abandonment. Even Eeyore reserves his dreary outlook on life for himself, without ever lashing out at his friends or harboring ill will against them when they're unable to help. There are family squabbles, sure -- Rabbit, ever frazzled, can't contain his frustration when Piglet fetches a rope to help the gang escape a pit, counts the number of animals desperate for his help, and proceeds to cut the rope into an appropriate number of pieces -- but the moment they climb out, any bickering dissipates without a second thought. As lightweight as it all may be, it struck me as nothing short of refreshing. Modern animated filmmakers tend to over-think, overproduce, over-animate, over-write and overreach. All well and good, particularly when it leads to nuanced, multi-layered animated adventures that appeal to adults and children with plenty of heart, soul and good humor. (Toy Story 3 anyone?) But not every animated film needs to shoulder the weight of the childhood experience, the fears of an unknown world, or the insecurities of growing up. Sometimes, just sometimes, it's nice to sit down, grin from ear to ear, and enjoy a harmless but infectious woodland romp with your kids.
Even so, there's a lot going on in Winnie the Pooh; things some will completely dismiss while huffing and puffing about its short runtime and truncated third act. (Which admittedly arrives too soon, wraps too quickly and leaves you wondering if Pooh and his friends, having found Christopher Robin and Eeyore's tail, will bother to search for the film's missing third act. Alas, they do not.) John Cleese pulls narrator duties and, like Cummings, Ferguson and the rest of the voice cast, lands every play on words and sticks every twist of phrase with effortless ease. As he reads, the storybook the characters reside within comes to life, at least in part, as sentences hang in the sky, letters topple on Pooh's head, and words come in handy when few solutions present themselves. The narrator, his storybook, its tangible words and, yes, even Christopher Robin's red balloon are as much characters in the tale as Piglet, Tigger and Roo and prove to be just as memorable, each in their own way. There are even more subtle touches primed for literary hounds and cinephiles who aren't lulled to sleep by the film's deceptively simple meanderings. Grade school teachers will adore all the little touches (a plucked period collapses an entire sentence) and filmfans are in for a variety of surprises and subtle references (keep your eyes peeled for a Raiders of the Lost Ark bit). And children? Older kids may be a tad bored with its leisurely pace, especially those raised on flashier Pixar and Dreamworks productions, but younger kids will hardly be able to contain their joy. In fact, Winnie the Pooh is far more reminiscent of early Disney classics than anything that's come along in some time. And I don't say that lightly either.
Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray, Video Quality
If Winnie the Pooh is disarmingly charming, its 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer is positively delightful. Storybook colors, lovely primaries and inkwell blacks impress as Pooh Bear yellows, Piglet pinks, Tigger oranges, and Hundred Acre Wood greens and browns come out to play. Contrast is flawless. Clarity is flawless. And detail is flawless too. Every line -- thick, thin and slightly frayed -- is crisp and clean, and every last brush stroke and flick of the pen has been perfectly preserved. The film's backgrounds are beautiful as well, with softly textured clouds and forest floors, swirling watercolor touches, and painted-canvas skies. Best of all, there isn't a hint of artifacting, banding, ringing, aliasing or any other compression issue or digital anomaly to speak of; the presentation is as pristine, proficient and, you guessed it, perfect as they come. I can't say I was surprised, honestly -- Disney consistently puts out some of the best animated releases on the market -- but I still found myself being drawn deeper and deeper into the image. There's no doubt about it: Winnie the Pooh looks fantastic.
Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Winnie the Pooh's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track isn't overpowering by any means, nor does it whirl, twirl or swirl round the listener with flights of supersonic fancy. But it's as delightful as the video transfer it accompanies and embraces every voice, song, cracking branch, toppling letter and gurgling tummy the film has in its honey pot. Dialogue is crystal clear, effects are generally light but altogether effective, and dynamics, though less than revolutionary, are as exacting as they possibly could be. The LFE channel is reserved on the whole, but it still has a handful of standout sequences at its disposal (a honey-flooded daydream and a Backson attack, among others) and ample weight to toss around whenever the soundscape is finished tiptoeing through the woods. The rear speakers aren't aggressive either, but they are wonderfully assertive. The film's playful score and easygoing songs swell and balloon nicely across the entire soundfield, bees swarm from channel to channel, Tigger bounds from leaf pile to leaf pile, and each environment, though subtly supported, sounds every bit as immersive and engaging as a storybook forest should. No, Winnie the Pooh's lossless mix isn't going to leave you breathless, but you won't find a single thing out of sorts. It's an excellent addition to an already impressive AV presentation.
Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Not everyone will warm up to Winnie the Pooh as much as I did, especially at just sixty-three minutes (fifty-three if you lop off the ten-minute end credits sequence). But don't be so quick to sell Pooh so short. It's a sweet, charming addition to the Disney animated family; one young children and nostalgic adults will fall in love with. The studio's Blu-ray release is terrific too. It doesn't have much supplemental bite, that's for sure, but its video transfer is absolutely flawless and its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is exceptionally engaging, even if its finer qualities aren't as immediately apparent. Try to ignore the runtime -- if it even bothers you -- and focus on everything Winnie the Pooh and its Blu-ray release does deliver. You won't be sorry, and neither will your kids.
Winnie the Pooh: Other Editions
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Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray, News and Updates
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• $5 Coupon for Three-Disc Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray - October 24, 2011
For a limited time, Disney Movie Rewards is offering a $5 coupon for use towards the three-disc Winnie the Pooh Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack. This exclusive deal will last until November 1st on Disney.com.
• Exclusive Giveaway: Winnie the Pooh - October 20, 2011
Blu-ray.com and Walt Disney Home Entertainment are offering three Blu-ray.com members the opportunity to win a copy of Winnie the Pooh, the studio's latest animated feature film. The Blu-ray edition arrives on October 25th.
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