Ranking Disney: #25 – Winnie the Pooh (2011)
This may be the purest and most innocent of all the Disney films. I dare you to watch this and not enjoy it.
This is basically a remake of the other Pooh film, even though it’s a sequel. The storyline that they follow, you’ll see, is almost exact. It’s more coherent as a plot, so there are differences, but you’ll see a lot of the general situations are exactly the same (some are more fleshed out, some less, but it’s all very similar). And that’s totally fine, because this film is magical.
I am, will will remain, a staunch defender of this film. It is so simple and beautiful. I refuse to believe any child under 6 will not enjoy this. It’s amazing.
The film begins as all Pooh films must — in the room of Christopher Robin and the opening of the storybook. And the narration:
“This could be the room of any small boy. In fact, it’s not. It is the room of one young boy in particular, named Christopher Robin. Now, Christopher Robin has a very active imagination. Not to mention the uncanny ability to collect things – big things, small things, sticky things… but his favorite things are his stuffed animals. Ah – there they are now. A charming and eccentric cast of characters. And his best friend among them is a bear named Winnie the Pooh, or Pooh for short. Together, they have many unusual adventures. They all happen right here in the Hundred Acre Wood…”
And that segues us to “Winnie the Pooh,” one of the happiest songs you will ever hear. I didn’t introduce the characters with screenshots in the other one, so I’ll do it for this one, since it’s prettier.
“Deep in the Hundred-Acre Wood / Where Christopher Robin plays / You’ll find the enchanted neighborhood / Of Christopher’s childhood days”
“A donkey named Eeyore is his friend”
“And Kanga, and little Roo”
“And Tigger too!”
“There’s Rabbit, and Piglet”
“And there’s Owl”
“But most of all, Winnie the Pooh”
“Winnie the Pooh / Winnie the Pooh / Tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff. / He’s Winnie the Pooh / Winnie the Pooh / Willy nilly silly old bear.”
We begin with Pooh looking for his morning fix of honey. Bitch better have his honey. He’s got empty honey pots all over his house like a hoarder, but no honey to eat.
He then goes to Eeyore’s house to see if Eeyore has any honey. All he finds is Eeyore missing his tail.
(Perfect representation of Eeyore’s relationship to everyone, right here.)
Then Owls shows up, in the process of writing his memoirs. Pooh asks him to help look for Eeyore’s tail, and he gives them orders, but that doesn’t go over, since they keep getting sidetracked. But basically his idea is that they issue a reward for the tail’s return.
They then make signs for all the animals in the forest to help them look. While Pooh is putting up signs, the red balloon shows up, and Tigger pounces on it. He has a comic encounter with the balloon, and gets to sing his Tigger Song, too. Tigger please.
They then have a town meeting, where Christopher Robin holds a contest for whoever can find Eeyore’s tail. The prize is a pot of honey. Everyone tries to win it, but eventually Kanga wins it.
Pooh then goes off, hungry. But he finds the tail Kanga knit for Eeyore has unraveled. He then decides to go to Christopher Robin’s house, since Christopher Robin always has honey, and always likes sharing with him. Only, when he gets there, all he finds is a note from Christopher Robin. Unable to read it, he brings it to Owl’s house. Owl reads it, and it says:
Though, since they can’t read correctly (the running joke of these movies is that they spell tail “tael”), they read “back soon” as “backson.” And Owl says it means that Christopher Robin has been captured by a creature called the Backson. And then he sings a song about the Backson (making it up as he goes along), which is just this side of “Pink Elephants on Parade.”
I’ll post more screenshots of this down at the bottom.
They make up all these things that Backsons are responsible for (their own insecurities, basically), and work themselves up into a frenzy.
They decide to gather up all the things Backsons like, and put them all in a big pit, so the Backson will stumble upon it and be trapped inside.
So they go and do all this – it’s kind of like that montage in The Sandlot, where they find all those ways to try to outsmart the Beast. And they go deeper and deeper into the woods.
Meanwhile, Tigger is of tracking the Backson on his own, and finds Eeyore, who was left behind. So he decides to take Eeyore with him, and the two go off together to get the Backson. But Eeyore is slow, so Tigger decides he’s going to “Tiggerize” him. It’s comical, and ends with a power slide.
Eeyore then goes to hide from Tigger, and Tigger thinks the Backson got him and that it’s picking them off, one by one.
We then go back to everyone else, and Pooh is starting to hallucinate from hunger. It then turns into a crazy fantasy sequence where “Everything is Honey.”
It’s very “Be Our Guest.” More screenshots of this later.
And in his delusion, he thinks the empty honey pot set for the Backson is real honey, and falls into the pit. Then everyone else shows up and tries to get him out by using Eeyore’s new tail – an anchor. Only that causes them all to fall in. The only person not in the pit is Piglet.
There’s a very comic section here involving Piglet trying to tie a knot. The wordplay is just fantastic. And the big punchline to the scene is that nobody realizes that Owl can fly them out of there.
Piglet then goes off to Christopher Robin’s house to get something that can help, but ends up running into Tigger, who is still dressed as the Backson from the earlier part with Eeyore. He flies away on the red balloon, and ends up knocking a bunch of letters from the book’s pages into the pit, which the rest of the characters use to climb out. (This is such a brilliant visual gag.)
But once they get out, they hear something in the bushes, and think it’s the Backson. But they discover it’s Christopher Robin, who explains the situation. They then bestow the honey pot to the red balloon, and not to Pooh.
Pooh then goes to Owl’s house, where he notices that Owl has been using Eeyore’s tail as a doorbell handle. They bring it to Christopher Robin, who reattaches it to Eeyore. He then presents Pooh with a giant honey put.
And the film ends, like all these films should end, with Pooh and Christopher Robin walking off, hand in hand.
And then — surprise surprise — in a scene after the credits (which must be the first such one in Disney history) — we meet the Backson.
And unlike everything they said about him — the Backson is actually a very gentle creature. He ends up finding all those things they left for him and thinks someone left them in the forest. And while he’s going to return them to the person, he falls in the pit and is trapped.
And I’ll end with this image, because I love it:
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Official Disney Number: #51
Run Time: 63 minutes
Release Date: April 15, 2011 (UK)
July 15, 2011 (US)
Budget: $30 million
Box Office: $26.7 million domestically, $33.2 million worldwide
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- “Winnie the Pooh,” performed by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward
- “The Tummy Song,” performed by Jim Cummings and Robert Lopez
- “A Very Important Thing to Do,” performed by Zooey Deschanel
- “Everything is Honey,” performed by Zooey Deschanel, Jim Cummings and Robert Lopez
- “The Winner Song,” performed by Bud Luckey and Chorus
- “The Backson Song,” performed by Craig Ferguson, Travis Oates, Jim Cummings, Wyatt Dean Hall, Bud Luckey, Tom Kenny and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
- “It’s Gonna Be Great,” performed by Jim Cummings and Bud Luckey
- “Finale,” performed by Jim Cummings, Zooey Deschanel, Robert Lopez and Cast
- “So Long,” performed by Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward
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- One of only three sequels in the Disney canon (not counting the direct-to-video ones), along with The Rescuers Down Under and Fantasia 2000.
- Production for the film began in 2009, with John Lasseter saying he wanted to make a film that “transcends generations.” (And he succeeded.)
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1. Storybook opening. Typical Pooh opening and classic Disney opening.
2. Here’s a compilation of a bunch of visual gags involving the storybook. They should all be self-explanatory, and I think they’re all so brilliant I included them all.
3. Almost an exact shot as the one in the original Pooh film.
4. Classic Disney shot of a character framed by foliage:
5. Negative coloring. (And great visual gag, to boot. And inside the book. A trifecta of animated brilliance.)
6. Here are images from the “Backson” sequence. It’s so fucking good. I love how they made it look like chalkboard animation. I love these colors.
7. You’re a Mean one, Mr. Backson.
8. Love this gag — Pooh loses his “train of thought.”
9. It’s like a Buster Keaton gag. It’s so great.
10. Here are images from “Everything Is Honey.” I told you any time they do something Busby Berkeley-like, I’m gonna put it here.
(Those last two are straight out (not literally) of “Be Our Guest,” aren’t they?)
9. I love how the thought bubble is animated. This movie makes me so happy.
10. How do you not end a Pooh article with this image?