Friday, November 12, 2010

Christopher Robin Gets Botox: A First Look at 'Winnie the Pooh'

This week, Disney released a new trailer and stills for next year's Winnie the Pooh film coming out on July 15. Fans of the original shorts Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day are going to love the look of the new Pooh movie, which recreates the simple hand-drawn animation and lush watercolor backgrounds that helped make the originals so appealing. The movie will also get back to its roots, adapting story lines directly from A. A. Milne's series of children's tales.

The only thing noticeably different about the look of Winnie the Pooh is Christopher Robin, who's gone from the solid dark eyes of the earlier films . . . 

. . . to a more doe-eyed appearance:

It looks like Chris discovered Botox, but actually it's the Disney animators enabling him to be more expressive. Pupils are everything. It's a minor change that should work just fine. 

Another nice element to the new Pooh film is the casting of Monty Python alum John Cleese as the narrator. Cleese's style and delivery (and yes, the English accent) will be the perfect nostalgia trip for those of us who grew up on the dulcet tones of the first Pooh storyteller, Sebastian Cabot.

Also, this will be the first time since 1977's The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (itself an edited compilation of the first Pooh shorts) that a Pooh feature film has come under Disney's premiere film label. More recent releases like The Tigger Movie (2000) and Piglet's Big Movie (2003) were produced by DisneyToon Studios, Disney's on-the-cheap creator of (mostly) direct-to-video releases. While these movies were generally entertaining, they lacked the richness in story and appearance that the earlier films had. Credit Winnie the Pooh executive producer John Lasseter (who knows a thing or two about reviving classic Disney properties) and story supervisor Burny Mattinson (who animated the original Pooh films) for giving the denizens of the Hundred Acre Wood the attention they deserve. After 34 years, it'll be great to have them back.

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