Winnie the Pooh
By Fernando F. Croce and Adam Nayman
Much of the pleasure of Disney’s new Winnie the Pooh movie lies in seeing so many old friends again—not just the denizens of Hundred Acre Wood but also such nearly vanished animation staples as pencil-drawn lines and watercolor backgrounds. As always when dealing with nostalgia, there’s the risk of unfairly dismissing high-tech innovations in favor of idealized, supposedly simpler pasta that exist solely in our minds—a dismissal that becomes less reasonable once we consider the spatial possibilities that have opened up onscreen as a result of digital animation and 3D. Still, I wouldn’t hesitate to trade all the dimensional novelties of the latest Pixar picture for the single moment here when the screen (which is employed throughout the movie as a succession of storybook pages gently narrated by John Cleese) is tilted this way and that to rouse the eponymous ursine protagonist out of bed, a bit of play with the frame that’s right out of The Navigator.
Am I crazy to bring up Buster Keaton in connection to a slender, barely hour-long children’s fable enacted by talking stuffed animals? I’ll go even crazier: The way Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) literally stumbles into one of the book’s paragraphs, scattering calligraphic symbols all over the place, has to be the most inventive use of onscreen text since Godard’s La Chinoise. Okay, enough. What I’m saying is that Winnie the Pooh abounds in such inventive meta-gags while staying true to the anecdotal modesty and introspective serenity of A.A. Milne’s original stories. Continue reading.