The friends are sidetracked from their task by a misconstrued note left by Christopher Robin that leads the gang to a more urgent search. They do so fearfully, believing Christopher Robin has been taken captive by the dreaded “Backson”—a forest creature no one has ever heard of prior to hearing Owl’s recitation of Christopher Robin’s note.

This is all charming, helped immensely by a visual presentation that pulls back from the main action to frame the story and its settings within the pages of a picture book. The story, written by the two co-directors plus five other scribes, goes so far as to incorporate words on the page into a crucial story development late in the film, and by then the film’s winning qualities have coalesced in a way that makes any objections to such boundary bursting seem churlish.

Another key to the success of Winnie the Pooh, in addition to the whimsical, relaxed quality of the story, is the film’s soundtrack, with original music by Henry Jackman and breezy, up-tempo songs performed by Zooey Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer).

Less appealing is an opening cartoon, The Ballad of Nessie, which lacks the punch and invention of the shorts that precede Pixar’s features. Given the quality of the feature-length Winnie, this soft opener is forgivable, even as it shows how far Disney still has to go to match Pixar’s inventiveness.

All in all, this brief Winnie the Pooh feature is no full-course meal, but it’s as sweet and flavorful as Pooh’s elusive pot of honey. Hopefully, there will be future Poohs—a prospect that’s all the more appealing given the long list of soulless sequels and much less family-friendly blockbusters that have already been green-lit by the big studios. The prospects of those projects make this gentle, wise film even more worthy of your support.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: None.
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: None.
  • Sex/Nudity: None.
  • Violence/Crime: A few cartoonish moments, such as when the characters fall into a pit, or Rabbit pounds Pooh’s head in frustration, or Pooh accidentally catapults Piglet into a beehive; Eeyore says, resignedly, “We’re all gonna die.” In the dark woods, a frightened Piglet mistakes an unrecognizable Tigger for the “Backson” and tries to run away.

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.