Latest Pooh Adventure is Simple but Profound
- Friday, August 05, 2011
(RNS)—Without the help of special 3-D glasses or Pixar-style bells and whistles, the new Winnie the Pooh film succeeds in transporting its audience to a place every bit as magical, where the hidden treasure is found in simple pleasures and sacred friendship.
At a throw-back 63 minutes long, Winnie the Pooh, directed by Stephen J. Anderson (Meet the Robinsons), is a tale that surely appeals to the kindergarten crowd. But it will also charm parents who, like me, probably saw the first Pooh movie in 1977, when they were still small enough to feel their feet dangle from the theater seats.
Pooh is a nostalgic romp as familiar and comfortable as an old sweater, with its tried-and-true pen-and-ink-style animation, sweet story line and characters many of us know like the back of our hand: The eponymous "silly old bear" and his cronies, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo.
Narrated by Monty Python alum John Cleese, the latest Pooh adventure is simple and yet profound, much like A.A. Milne's nearly 100-year-old stories upon which the Pooh films are based.
The story unfolds (literally) in the pages of a storybook where the letters themselves become part of the plot. Pooh awakens reluctantly and with the help of the narrator who turns the book upside down to get the sleepy bear out of bed, and is immediately reminded that he is hungry and out of honey. "Oh bother," Pooh says.
Bother, indeed. As Pooh sets out to find, beg or borrow some honey to slake his appetite, he encounters the morose donkey Eeyore who is even more down than usual after misplacing his tacked-on tail.
With the help of Christopher Robin, in his English schoolboy beanie and short pants, Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood crew stage a contest to find Eeyore a new tail. The prize is a pot of honey.
Eventually, the crew believes Christopher Robin, who has gone off to school, has been kidnapped by a creature called "Backson," a misinterpretation of the words "back soon" from a note Christopher leaves behind. So begins a mission to "rescue" the boy from the monster who, the Owl explains, keeps people "very busy."
If the laughter that came from a half-dozen other parents in the theater with me was any indication, I was not alone in interpreting "Backson" as a metaphor for adulthood. There was something quite touching about the wholehearted commitment Pooh and his stuffed-animal friends demonstrated in their quest to rescue Christopher Robin from such a fate.
While Winnie the Pooh doesn't contain any material that could be described as religious by any stretch of the imagination, its characters and their relationships do speak to something eternal. Over the years much has been written about Milne's Hundred Acre Wood characters and how they might correspond to philosophy, religion and psychology—each representing a particular personality type, etc. Books such as The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet have sought to explain the Eastern spirituality of Taoism through the Pooh characters.
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