The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977) (G)
I may be the slightest bit biased about this movie because it was such a staple of my childhood. "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" is by far the Disney movie that I saw the most and the one that brings back the most memories for me. But aside from the major nostalgia that it gives me, "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" is perhaps the most whimsical and enjoyable of the Disney movies made between the period of "the classics" and the more modern powerhouses like "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Lion King". It bridges the gap between the written work, childhood imagination, and the film itself.
"Winnie the Pooh" begins with a narrator (Sebastian Cabot) telling us about a boy named Christopher Robin and his many toys which he played with. In his imagination, he and his fluffy friends would go to the Hundred Acre Wood and there, like the title suggests, they would have many adventures.
First of all there's Winnie the Pooh himself, iconically voiced by Sterling Holloway, whose time is consumed by thinking of and searching for food. Of all the Disney "heroes" he is by far the most curious because he at first only seems concerned with food and it is said of him that he is a bear "with very little brain". A large simpleton, Winnie the Pooh later shows us his heroic capacity for friendship; but for most of the movie he is nothing if not definitive of the word "bumbling".
As Pooh meanders from one story to the next, he often traipses on others' hospitality, most notably Rabbit (Junius Matthews). One story sees Pooh eating all of Rabbit's food and then getting stuck in the doorway.
So yes, again we see that "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" may not be the most stellar piece of plot twisting; but it is almost too sweet for words. It precedes works like "Toy Story" and makes use of catchy songs and adult language (here meaning jargon) to entertain its older audience. Owl (Hal Smith) in particular is one who likes to ramble on and on, fitting the word "glockenspiel" into the movie.
Then there's Piglet (John Fiedler), the stuttering and shy heart of the picture, the reserved half to Pooh's naive confidence. But if you remember this movie or if you had a child, you know who the favorite character was...he's striped and bounces on his tail. Tigger (Paul Winchell) is the oddball at the core of the movie's humor a "flouncy pouncy fun fun fun fun fun" zany little ball of energy. For me, Tiger sent me jumping on all the couches in my house thinking about how fun it would be to have a spring as a tail.
Eeyore (Ralph Wright) is the pessimist of the movie, the one who always thinks that it looks like it's going to rain. He's made of sawdust and is always losing his tail. He is the mopey antithesis to Kanga and Roo, a mother-son duo who also add a level of complexity to the movie.
There are no adults in "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" and yet there is the thought of recapturing childhood whimsy. It appeals to a large crowd and its appeal is completely merited.
Some moments steal from, and improve upon things already seen in Disney movies. The heffalumps and woozles song rings true of "Pink Elephants on Parade" from "Dumbo". Yet if anything, this is the movie that gets swept under the rug when you talk about the magic of Disney. But don't underestimate the power of this movie. In cultural influence alone, the book paired with the movie, made the name "Winnie the Pooh" known in every household. Not only that, but every character is so well-defined that most of them can be seen in some form even in everyday conversation.
"The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" is a glorious and nostalgic journey for me, but it is also a clever and self-referential animated classic. It is filled with wonder.
Posted by Micah Jones