DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: July 15, 2011
Rating: G
Genre: Animation, Kids/Family
Run Time: 69 min.
Director: Stephen J. Anderson, Dan Hall
Actors: Voices of John Cleese, Jim Cummings, Craig Ferguson, Bud Luckey, Travis Oates, Tom Kenny, Jack Boulter, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Wyatt Dean Hall

When film studios take on beloved stories and characters, they usually update them, reinvent them or otherwise spin them to make them more appealing to contemporary audiences. For example, Dreamworks has reworked fairy tales in its Shrek series, while Disney has spun Shakespeare into a story about gnomes (Gnomeo & Juliet). With Winnie the Pooh, Disney has chosen a different route, resisting the temptation to modernize either the characters or A.A. Milne’s gentle storytelling style. The studio’s new adaptation of Pooh captures many of the qualities of the Pooh books—quite literally in some ways.

Incorporating strong voice talent and jaunty musical numbers, Winnie the Pooh is a refreshing throwback to a time when big-screen animated features weren’t feverishly paced or loaded with rapid-fire jokes. One of the most laid-back family entertainments of recent years—the film is content to be merely enjoyable. If there’s a criticism to be made, it’s that the slight plotline makes the film’s 69-minute run time feel a bit long, although never painful.

The new Pooh begins with a live-action shot of Christopher Robin’s (Jack Boulter) bedroom and a narrator (John Cleese) who points out several stuffed animals therein—some of the beloved characters that inhabit the Hundred Acre Wood. These include Pooh (Jim Cummings), Rabbit (Tom Kenny), Eeyore (Bud Luckey), Owl (Craig Ferguson), Piglet (Travis Oates), Kanga (Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and Roo (Wyatt Dean Hall).

Live action cedes to animation as we enter the world of Hundred Acre Wood, where nothing much is happening. Pooh is, as he often is, hungry. His stomach is growling. He wants some honey but there’s none to be found, so he sings a song about his search for sustenance.

Even a song can’t help his morose friend, Eeyore, who’s always expecting the worse. Eeyore’s world gets bleaker still when Pooh informs him that Eeyore’s tail is missing. Where did it go? Did someone take it? They gather their friends around and declare a contest to see who can find a tail for Eeyore. The prize? A pot of honey.

Joining the hunt are Owl, who can barely be bothered with the adventure given an ongoing writing project about his favorite subject—himself; Tigger; Kanga; Roo; and Piglet. The group is soon offering Eeyore a variety of tails, such as a clock and a knitted scarf, but none of them suit the donkey.