Boy, oh boy, hunny has rarely tasted this good. Disney has produced a plethora of charming, kid-friendly Pooh films over the years, but none have come close to capturing the wit and whimsy of the original 1960s shorts, one of the last projects Walt Disney was personally involved with. The latest film in the franchise not only matches the quality of those original films but was arguably the best film released this summer.
Winnie the Pooh (rated G) has its share of familiar plot points: Pooh bear has run out of honey, and donkey Eeyore has lost his tail again. A contest to find Eeyore's tail is soon forgotten when Pooh discovers a note left by Christopher Robin that reads "Back soon," which too-clever-by-half Owl interprets as meaning Christopher Robin has been captured by a strange creature called the Backson.
The beauty of this film lies within the writers' success in creating the truest, purest versions of these familiar characters and the delightful interplay between them. Piglet's trusting, simple nature is played for great comedic effect when he unquestioningly goes along with one of Pooh's ill-planned attempts to procure honey from a bee hive. Tigger's irrepressible exuberance is well-drawn in his disastrous efforts to turn the frightened Eeyore into his Tigger Two sidekick, leading Eeyore, in his deadpan style, to tell the flattered Tigger that "the most wonderful thing about Tiggers is you're the only one," referencing the classic Sherman Brothers song.
In another pleasant nod to the original shorts, the characters often find themselves walking on the actual words of the story, leaping to different pages, and, in Pooh's case, exchanging amusing asides with the narrator (John Cleese).
Delightful moments abound in this film, along with a strong message about setting aside personal needs, such as honey, for the well-being of friends. Be sure to watch until the end of the credits for a special surprise. In this era of cinematic reboots, Winnie the Pooh ranks as one of the best.