Ah, the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. I bet those are great. Unfortunately, the film bearing this as its title which I impatiently sat through seems to have been mis-credited and should surely be entitled ‘The Many Non-Events of Winnie the Pooh’, or something to that effect. Very few things happen in this hour-and-fifteen-minute long biopic of the life of Christopher Robin, who incidentally I can only hope will become a fully nationalized Briton very quickly, for his accent still clings on to a lingering tie with the US – and I thought The Hundred Acre Wood was in Aldenham!
The film itself is made up of segments of pre-released material dating from the sixties… a disappointing feat from the studio who only a few years before brought us the marvellously entertaining and original Robin Hood. Well, perhaps all the excitement of forest living was reserved for northerners, for down south-east way things have never been more tedious. ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day’ or ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree’ just don’t quite cut it compared to Casanova style sword fights and dastardly, greedy kings.
It’s really quite odd that the film turned out to be so direly dull as A.A. Milne’s stories (on which the film is based) are whimsical, charming and everything else but. And as someone who grew up reading a great deal of Winnie the Pooh I would certainly say that in essence the film is very true to the books, even if not lifted verbatim throughout. Winnie the Pooh is really all about imagination; the Honey Tree and the Blustery Day are very much secondary to the notion of imagining the Enchanted World in which they all live and I get the sense that through animating the story and giving the characters voices and definite personalities, the true meaning of the books are lost. Unlike other Disney films there is no discernable moral to be taken from the film which means that for anyone older than five there is nothing to be taken at all.
The characters themselves are a main reason for this. They stop being cute the moment words like ‘narcissism’ and ‘binge’ enter your vocabulary. Winnie the Pooh himself wouldn’t last five minutes on an episode of Jeremy Kyle; he’s forever putting his own selfish desire in front of his friends’ needs (such as Rabbit’s need to use his front door!) and most certainly has an eating disorder. Piglet is so insecure that he would gladly give up his own house rather than speak up for himself, Rabbit is malicious and incredibly self important and Tigger has ADHD. See what I mean? Although it is worth mentioning that Tigger’s exclamation of the word “grrrrreat” is oddly familiar…
To add to the disappointment, the music is decidedly less than inspired. The only songs which even remotely sticks in my mind are ‘Winnie the Pooh’ which I hadn’t known was from this film (my mum used to sing it to me as a bubby. Aaw) and ‘The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers’, although that really is more of a rhyme… The rest of the score is instantly forgettable.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has tainted my childhood friends and given them human characteristics and human flaws, when in my naive childish imagination they were flawless and simple. I get the feeling that for cutting-costs the Hundred Acre Wood is simply an easy and obvious target. The stories are already written, the characters fully developed even the style of animation is provided through the original illustrations of E. H. Shepherd. What’s more, with Winnie the Pooh you have a guaranteed audience as the stories and characters are already firmly imprinted on most of the Western World’s early memory reel. To sum up the film in three words: bums on seats. Sorted.