Movies: Winnie the Pooh ***
(G, general release)
It would be a cynical critic indeed who stooped to sneer at Winnie the Pooh, and I am not that man. Since the mid-60s, Disney have been flogging the cuddly characters of AA Milne with reasonable faithfulness, and this new Pooh film is a revival of an old but much-loved franchise. This is a deliberately old-fashioned film, but overall that's a good rather than a bad thing, and its traditionally drawn animations are exquisite.
Winnie the Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Rabbit, Tigger, Kanga and Roo are toys of a young boy called Christopher Robin who come alive in the Hundred Acre Wood. And although a pleasant bunch -- there is really no kind way of saying this -- they are not very bright. Pooh is a dreamy, work-shy bear whose abiding concern is where his next pot of honey is coming from. He and his buddies lead such gentle lives that they get into a right old flap about the slightest problem. In this adventure, the disappearance of Eeyore the donkey's tail prompts a forest-wide search. But instead of finding it, the animals misread a harmless note from Christopher Robin and decide that a monster called the 'Backson' is out to get them.
Narrated by John Cleese, Winnie the Pooh makes constant reference to its storybook origins, and at times AA Milne's very words are walked over by the characters.
As I mentioned, it's beautifully animated, and Pooh and Tigger in particular provide plenty of laughs along the way. I should say it's intended for the very young, say five to seven-year-olds.
And judging by the helpless hysterics of the nippers who attended my screening, it's going to go down very well with that demographic.
Day & Night