Disney tapped Stephen J. Anderson (writer-director of Meet the Robinsons) and Don Hall (writer of Tarzan and Meet the Robinsons) to helm this new rendering of A.A. Milne’s beloved honey fiend Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) who, along with his stuffed animal buddies including Tigger (Cummings again), Owl (Craig Ferguson), Eyeore (Bud Luckey) and Piglet (Travis Oates), attempts to rescue their human companion Christopher Robin (Jack Boulter) from Backson, a nefarious character mentioned in what the gang believes is a ransom note.
A too-cute case of mistakes and misdirections ensues, while Pooh dips his nose into any and every jar, in the hopes of quenching his honey hunger. Despite additional voice work from Ferguson and John Cleese (as the narrator) and new music featuring Zooey Deschanel, this version of Winnie the Pooh retains the classic 2-D animated style that will likely alienate all but the youngest of audience members weaned on ultra-vibrant, photorealistic 3-D pop-cultural hijinks.
The movie recalls bygone lazy afternoons of imaginative play and suffers even more because it's too short and sweet to be taken seriously as a feature film; at barely over an hour long, Winnie the Pooh could have launched on television as a PBS family movie in an earlier age. Such faithfulness and brevity speaks to the dual losses of innocence and paradise that we, as a modern society, might never overcome. Grade: B-
Opens July 15. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.