Stuffed with Fluff, by Tyler Smith
This is a very difficult movie for me to review, for several reasons. First and foremost, the film is most definitely not meant for me. Unlike many recent animated films, the new Winnie the Pooh has no interest in catering to all ages. This is a film for children, make no mistake.
The second reason that I have a hard time thinking about it is that I grew up being such a fan of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the episodic feature from Disney that first introduced A.A. Milne’s beloved characters to an American audience. I would watch that film over and over again, bouncing with Tigger, laughing with Pooh, and being surprisingly creeped out by the heffalump and woozle sequence.
So, in judging the new film, I’m not only comparing it to other kids movies, or even the first Pooh film. I’m comparing it with my very childhood. And, as expected, it comes up short. At just over an hour, the film really just feels like a long episode of a Winnie the Pooh television series. Along with that, the stories seem very slight- almost disposable. They seem to not carry as much weight as the stories of the original.
But, then, of course, how can I even begin to be objective about such things?
When I try to remove myself and my own personal expectations from the film, I find that I am left with a perfectly serviceable movie that young children will enjoy and that their parents will have no problems with. Winnie the Pooh is the essence of wholesome. There are no knowing winks to the parents, no nudging innuendo. The stakes are very low to us, the adult members of the audience, but they mean everything to Pooh and his friends. Much like the characters in the film, Winnie the Pooh is simple and unassuming. That’s not really such a bad thing, when you really think about it.
There’s even a little message in the film, about friendship, loyalty, and selflessness. It’s a lesson that many young children in the audience will understand and appreciate.
I enjoyed Winnie the Pooh as much as I think I was supposed to. It may not have been remarkably challenging, but it did cause me- just for a moment- to long for a simpler time in my life, when I didn’t have quite so much to worry about. A time when the most important thing in the world was fixing one of my beloved toys.
Winnie the Pooh understands the wonderful simplicity of being a child, and asserts that without ever pandering or condescending. At a time in filmmaking when children are seen more as a very profitable demographic, it’s refreshing to see a film whose only concern is engaging with kids on their level. In that sense, this new film is a nice addition to the world of Winnie the Pooh.