Saturday, July 23, 2011

Winnie the Pooh (Stephen J. Anderson & John Hall, 2011) -- C+

Winnie the Pooh is an inherent relief from Pixar corporatism - minimal, hand-drawn, but more importantly, founded upon a degree of humanism, interested in simple, sincere moral tales. However, to stop here and laud this fleeting 67 minute feature with praise would be bad criticism, no better than the viewer who appreciates a film because he agrees with it's "message," presentation be damned. Fact is, this reintroduction of the A.A. Milne's indelible crew of play things lacks a genuine sense of immediacy and drive towards its desired moral ends, amusing in its minimalism, and approaching excellence in two surrealistic sequences (Pooh has always been a self-reflexive text too; doubters need witness only the characters' interaction with the actual words of the storybook) which deliberately evoke Dali and Cocteau in juxtaposition (and irrationality) of size, scale, and movement. Nevertheless, these evocations are more transitional beats than pointed pieces to a greater, playful puzzle. Pooh has consistently been among the greatest of 20th century childhood narratives (those unfamiliar with Frederick Crews' The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh, though only adjacently about Milne's stories, will find much hilarity if knowledgeable of the Pooh characters), primarily because it celebrates imagination and friendship without cynical sentimentality (a deadly combination). Too bad the latest Pooh, while admirable, lazily reaches its humanist ends, as if it were a foregone conclusion, confusing minimalism with simplicity.

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