Thursday, July 14, 2011

Winnie the Pooh

I don’t think much about my childhood, but I do remember strong affection for Winnie-the-Pooh. Just like my other childhood heroes, Charlie Brown, Kermit the Frog, and Calvin they were creatures of imagination and drive. They were people who cared about their friends and knew that the next best adventure was just upon the hill.

The new film Winnie the Pooh captures the purity of the original stories. There is only one pop culture reference that I noticed and the rest is wonderful old-fashioned Pooh. The story is simple, but everything pays off. I smiled throughout the duration and laughed more than the child aside me expected me to.

The reason why this succeeds is because they understand every character. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Owl, and Christopher Robin are well known from generations. They are fully formed, likable creatures and all the movie had to do was to remain faithful to their sprits.

This film is perfect for little children. It’s also wonderful for the older viewers who are attending with the little children. The only thing missing is the push for older viewers to see it on their own. It’s only 69 minutes with an unrelated fun short film about the Loch Ness Monster.

Pooh Bear is one of the greatest protagonists. He loves his friends even more than his worshiped honey. He is not well educated in common sense much like Homer Simpson. He can even stare at a clue for a long time, knowing it’s very important and then let it go much like The Dude from The Big Lebowski.

My point is, everyone is still relatable. They are still engaging and heroic and special. They can defeat monsters and figure out what can work for Eeyore’s tail. Some of their characters embrace life with full commitment and others wallow in depression. With this range, children can find someone who is like them. Not everyone is the bravest or the smartest. These characters certainly aren’t, but they are genuinely some of the most loyal characters. There is a moment when Piglet has to face a potential monster or Pooh has to decide what he values most and they both respond in an honorable fashion.

At the end it’s all about storytelling. The film plays like a book being read by the parents. The narrator is personally advising the character and the words fall from the sky. It’s not just meta, it’s personable.

There is too much of a debate about how to grade a children’s film. Must it apply to adults? Must it be explained thoroughly to the younger viewers? What is most important is that it is the best of its respected genre. Movies like 2001 and Serenity find viewers beyond the typical sci-fi fans because it is a great movie on its own. The common themes and emotions will extend beyond any given genre. Winnie the Pooh is a brilliant film aimed towards younger viewers and because of that, it can be enjoyed by older ones. It may not be worth the expensive theatre price, but this is a film worthy of catching up with.

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