Disney has released Pooh-related movies fairly regularly for the last few years, but none have come as close to capturing the spirit of the classic Adventures of Winnie the Pooh as the new (and imaginatively named) Winnie the Pooh. Kids and parents tired of all the PG-13 blockbuster shenanigans can relax in the sweet, good-natured company of Pooh and friends without any trace of guilt.
The new movie's pleasures are modest, but almost always charming. It runs a scant 54 minutes, not including the animated short and trailers that play before. This would actually make the perfect first film to take your 2 or 3 year-old.
Pooh is looking for honey. Eeyore has lost his tail. And Christopher Robin goes missing, supposedly at the hands of the "Backsoon" monster. Those three sentences tell you all you need to know about the story. Winnie the Pooh is less about plot, however, and more about quirky character interactions (Piglet is nervous; Owl is full of himself; Rabbit is selfish and has a short emotional trigger; Eeyore is depressed; Pooh...well, Pooh wants honey - always), and cheeky humorous bits involving language and words. Everything is safe and pleasant in these 100 Acre Woods. No boundary pushing here.
In a bid for some hipster cred, Zooey Deschanel contributes several songs to the soundtrack. There are a number of musical sequences packed in to the short running time, but they all feel organic to the story, and the movie just kind of slips in and out of them without calling to much attention to itself.
Winnie the Pooh doesn't reinvent the wheel, but, then again, it doesn't have to. The fact that there's nothing new here is not a detriment, and won't stop audiences from enjoying the movie. In a summer full of overstuffed and overblown sequels, it's nice to find a movie that truly honors the maxim, "less is more." This is the film equivalent of a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink (an Arnie Palmer, perhaps?) at the pool on a hot day.