Winnie the Pooh is a traditionally animated feature film created and produced at Walt Disney Animation Studios and presented by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 51st film in the Disney Animated Canon and the third film in the Disney Revival. Production began in late 2009 and the film was released on July 15, 2011, competing with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 3D on the same weekend.
Inspired by A.A. Milne's stories of the same name, Winnie the Pooh features two previously unadapted stories from the original books, in the same style as previous Disney-produced Winnie the Pooh featurettes such as Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! It is the first (and most recent) Disney film to be in 2D animation since 2009's The Princess and the Frog. It is both a sequel to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and a reboot to the rest of the franchise.
The film is directed by Stephen Anderson and Don Hall and produced by Clark Spencer and Peter Del Vecho, with John Lasseter as executive producer. Burny Mattinson, a Disney veteran who worked on several of the previous Pooh films, served as lead storyboard artist.
The supervising animators on the film include Mark Henn (Pooh), Bruce W. Smith (Piglet, Kanga, Roo), Andreas Deja (Tigger), Eric Goldberg (Rabbit), Dale Baer (Owl), Glen Keane (Christopher Robin), and Randy Haycock (Eeyore).
The film was scored by Henry Pryce Jackman with additional music by Christopher Willis with Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez contributing seven new unforgettable songs for the film, and Zooey Deschanel performed a new version of the Sherman Brothers' "Winnie the Pooh" theme. In the Latin American version of the film, the song is sung by Danna Paola.
The film is primarily based on three stories from the A.A. Milne books. Two of which are from Winnie-the-Pooh: "In which Eeyore loses a tail and Pooh finds one" and "In which Piglet meets a Heffalump". The other story is from The House at Pooh Corner: "In which Rabbit has a busy day and we learn what Christopher Robin does in the mornings". Some elements, such as the gang thinking that Christopher Robin has been captured by a monster due to a misspelling on a note, are based on events from the film Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin.
The film opens with a view of a boy's bedroom, with assorted toys and books scattered around. The narrator states that it is the room of Christopher Robin, and that he likes to collect things. He mostly likes to collect stuffed animals, and his favorite toy bear is Winnie the Pooh.
The movie shifts to animation, with the pages of a book, and illustrations of the Hundred Acre Wood, where Winnie the Pooh and his friends live. The page turns and it is "Chapter One: "In Which Winnie the Pooh has a Very Important Thing to Do". Pooh is sleeping and the narrator calls his name to wake him, but he is talking in his sleep about honey. Pooh finally wakes up and his stomach growls-he says it is rumbly for honey and, "A Pooh bear takes care of his tummy." He looks all over his house, but all the honey pots are empty. So, he leaves to go find some honey from one of his generous friends.
Pooh finds the ever-gloomy donkey named Eeyore, and asks if he has any honey. Eeyore doesn't have any, but as he checks, Pooh notices that Eeyore's tail is missing. Owl is up above them in the tree, writing his personal memoirs, and Pooh asks him if he could take a break and help them find Eeyore's missing tail. The loyalty Owl suggests that first, they must issue a reward for the finder of the tail. Pooh says "Gesundheit" and asks if he is sick. Owl is confused and Eeyore confirms that both he and Pooh heard Owl sneeze. He thinks they are silly, and he did not sneeze. They get back to discussing Eeyore's tail, and when Owl mentions they need to issue a reward, both Pooh and Eeyore again think he sneezed. Eeyore also thinks that he is catching whatever Owl has, and has a scratchy throat. Pooh tells him that honey is good for a scratchy throat. Owl finally figures out that whenever he said "issue", they thought he said, "achoo", like a sneeze. He reassures them that he isn't sick, and explains what "issue" means. They agree that Christopher Robin needs to write and hang the notices about the missing tail and reward.
"A Very Important Thing To Do" signs go up, and all the beloved animals in the Hundred Acre Wood show up for a meeting. An loyal, boisterious, bouncing tiger called Tigger bounces in with B'loon, and the static from it makes it stick to his fur, which scares him at first. He sings "The Most Wonderful Thing About Tiggers". At the podium, Christopher Robin informs the animals of the tragedy of the missing tail. There is a contest to find the best replacement tail for Eeyore and the winner will get a pot of honey. With honey as the reward, Pooh is thinking of what would be a good tail for Eeyore. He runs home and comes back with his cuckoo clock. They stick it on the nail in Eeyore's rear and proclaim it is a fine tail and Pooh wins the honey. They sing the honey-winner's song and as Pooh is about to eat the honey, Eeyore sits down and the cuckoo clock shatters. So they take the honey back, which saddens Pooh, and all start trying other tails. The timid Piglet brings B'loon over, but it lifts Eeyore's hind legs up and tries to fly away. Then they try a yoyo, umbrella, dartboard, misc toys, a vane, and a concertina but none will work. A sweet-hearted female kangaroo Kanga brings over the scarf she has been knitting, and places it on Eeyore's nail. He likes it, and they proclaim her the winner and start singing the honey-winner's song again, but she asks them to celebrate with silence.
Pooh's tummy keeps rumbling, so he leaves to find some honey, as it is now past breakfast and nearly lunch. He finds a red string on the ground, and follows it, and eventually finds that it is Kanga's scarf. It has gotten stuck on something and come unraveled, so Eeyore is still in need of a tail. They walk back home and find a note from Christopher Robin: "Gon Out. Bizy. Back Soon". Pooh cannot read it as he says he is a bear with very little brain, and so he takes it to Owl to read. Owl invites him in, and offers him some honey. As Pooh stretches up to the shelf to reach the honey, his tummy stitches pop, and his stuffing falls out. He puts it back, but before he can eat the honey, Owl is worried about the note: He reads it as Christopher Robin has been captured and being held by a creature called the Backson. He describes him to Pooh as a huge creature with horns, a ring in his nose, and a pointy tail. He is the creature that scribbles in your books, tangles the hooks in the Christmas decorations, and puts holes in your socks. A terrible creature such as this means they must rescue Christopher Robin.
The friends come up with a plan: They will dig a deep hole, fill it with things the Backson would like, and then he will fall in it and be captured. They dig and bring lots of toys to fill the hole. Pooh covers it with a picnic blanket and Piglet puts large rocks on the corners. They hope they can lure the Backson there and he will fall in. Piglet brings a honey pot and places it in the blanket. Pooh opens it to eat it, but it is empty. Piglet explains it is just for the disguise of tricking the Backson. The animals dress up with pots, pans or even an oven mitt on their heads for protection, and begin to leave a trail of toys through the woods, to lure the Backson out. Tigger, however, has another plan: he thinks they are too slow, so he dresses up like a Backson, and goes into the woods to track him. He finds Eeyore, who has been left behind as he was too slow to keep up. Tigger says that the two of them will go track the Backson together. First, he tries to "tigger-ize" Eeyore: He paints Tigger-stripes on him and adds a spring for a tail. He tries to teach Eeyore to bounce likes he does.
Pooh spies a beehive but it is too high to reach. He places Piglet on the low end of a teeter-totter and then he jumps on the high end, sending Piglet soaring up into the tree, but he is shot right into the beehive, head-first. Pooh tries to get his head out of the beehive by hitting the hive with a stick, and Piglet is worried. The bees inside don't seem to like that. Pooh keeps hitting it, and the angry swarm of bees comes out and chases them. Pooh says, "Run!" and they run smack into steadfast and humorous Rabbit. Rabbit takes the hive off poor Piglet's head, and throws it up high into a tree, and the bees go back in. Pooh asks Rabbit, "Please, Rabbit, can we stop for lunch?" as his tummy is rumbling loudly, but Rabbit says not until they rescue Christopher Robin.
All Pooh hears is honey-honey-honey whenever anyone says anything-he is so distracted by his hunger that he can't think of anything else. Rabbit suggests that he try to think of something else, like finding Christopher Robin. He sees a honey pot, and runs for it, and falls into a deep hole before he can grab it. He had just fallen into the Backson trap. Pooh moans, as he is stuck and cannot get out. The animals hear the scary moan, and think they have caught the Backson. Afraid, none want to check, but they finally do and are surprised to see Pooh in the hole. Eeyore comes over and has an anchor on as his tail. All the animals fall in the hole and are stuck. Piglet is topside and tries to help them out. He looks for help, but no one is there. He cuts a long rope into 6 small pieces, one for each animal, but the pieces are too short to reach into the hole. Rabbit tells him to knot the rope, but he says he cannot. Rabbit remembers that Christopher Robin has a rope in his room, and sends Piglet to go get it. He is scared to go into the woods by himself. He goes, and gets frightened by the shadows there. He sees that one of the shadows is just B'loon stuck in some branches. He pulls to get B'loon out, and bumps into Tigger in his Backson disguise, and freaks out and runs away, thinking the Backson is there to get him. They run and fall into the hole. Pooh sees B'loon floating above, and takes the letters from the story and stack them into a letter-ladder and climbs out of the hole. The rest of the animals do the same. They hear a noise and are frightened that it is the real Backson, but it is just Christopher Robin. They are happy that he is safe and ask how he escaped the Backson. Christopher Robin has no idea what they are talking about, so they show him the note. He explains that they just mis-read the note, and that it said that he had "gone out" and will be "back soon".
For finding a way out of the hole and saving the day, they award the honey pot prize to B'loon. Pooh just says, "Oh, bother". He walks to Owl's house to hear him read and have that long-promised taste of honey and sees a sign, "Don't Nock-Plez Ring", so Pooh pulls the ringer for the bell, and stares at it. Something about it is very familiar: he remembers! It is Eeyore's missing tail! Owl said he found it in a thistle bush. They take it to Eeyore, and he says he was fond of that tail. So they all go to Christopher Robin, so he can reattach the tail. They ask Eeyore if he is happy, but he says, "No. But I sure do like this new tail".
As a surprise, Christopher Robin gives Pooh a giant pot of honey as a reward. He explains that he really did a "very important thing" as he thought of his friend instead of his tummy. Pooh climbs up the sides of the pot, climbs in, and closes the lid. He swims in the honey and eats large handfuls. Christopher Robin smiles and says, "Silly Old Bear".
In a post-credits scene, it is revealed that the rumored Backson actually exists deep in the woods, but is much friendlier than imagined. He discovers the trail of objects that the animals left, and picks up each one, planning to return them to whoever owns them. He ends up falling into the pit that was originally meant for him and waits for someone to arrive and help him out. He adds, "I sure hope that fellow will be back soon".
- Jim Cummings as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger
- Travis Oates as Piglet
- Jack Boulter as Christopher Robin
- Bud Luckey as Eeyore
- Kristen Anderson-Lopez as Kanga
- Wyatt Dean Hall as Roo
- Tom Kenny as Rabbit
- Craig Ferguson as Owl
- John Cleese as The Narrator
- Huell Howser as The Backson
Burny Mattinson, a Disney veteran who worked as the key animator on Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too!, served as lead storyboard artist for the film, with Stephen Anderson and Don Hall directing. Director Stephen Anderson is best known for his effort on Meet the Robinsons, Journey Beneath the Sea, Brother Bear, The Emperor's New Groove and Bolt. Director Don Hall also has veteran status at Walt Disney Animation Studios, significantly contributing to The Princess and the Frog, Meet the Robinsons, Brother Bear, Home on the Range, The Emperor's New Groove, and Tarzan. Supervising animators for the film included Mark Henn (Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin), Andreas Deja (Tigger), Bruce W. Smith (Piglet, Kanga, Roo), Randy Haycock (Eeyore), Eric Goldberg (Rabbit) and Dale Baer (Owl). Similar to The Princess and the Frog, the film also uses Toon Boom Animation's Harmony software. Instead of using live-action book scenes (in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), the book scenes are CGI-animated with the characters interacting with the text (such as when they escape the pit they wanted to trap the backson in).
Originally, the film was supposed to feature three stories from the A.A. Milne books, but the final version ended up drawing inspiration from five stories. Lasseter had also announced that Rabbit's friends and relatives would be in the film, but they appear only in a deleted scene.
The movie was preceded by two animated shorts, one of them being the Cartoon Network promo for their animated series Regular Show in their short, Mordecai and Rigby: Ringtoneers, which was only played in Regal Entertainment Group's Regal First Look. Another one was The Ballad of Nessie, which was about a friendly Loch Ness Monster named Nessie and how she and her best friend MacQuack, the rubber duck, came to live in the moor they now call home. In some international screenings, the episode Cubby's Goldfish from the Disney Junior series Jake and the Never Land Pirates also appeared.
Winnie the Pooh received very positive reviews, despite its very short film length. The film received a "Certified Fresh" rating, with a score of 91% among all critics based on 118 reviews and 97% among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus is: "Short, nostalgic, and gently whimsical, Winnie the Pooh offers young audiences ― and their parents ― a sweetly traditional family treat." Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times says the film "proves a fitting tribute to one of the last century's most enduring children's tales." The film has been praised for not only being able to charm the children audience but the parents as well. Roger Ebert, giving it 3 stars out of 4, said in his review "In a time of shock-value 3-D animation and special effects, the look of the film is gentle and pleasing. It was hand-animated, I'm told, and the backgrounds use a subtle and reassuring watercolor style. It's a nightmare-proof experience for even the youngest viewers."
While Platform Online stated that Winnie the Pooh's "handdrawn animation is such a welcome relief", it found the film's runtime length to be more of an issue, which it stated "At just 70 minutes, even aiming at kids this could have been longer – Pixar have been pushing films well over 90 minutes for years now, and it’s clear the children can handle it. Just as you really get into the film it's over, and you’re left wanting more."
The film was a box-office disappointment at the time of its release. On its opening weekend, it got just $7,857,076, opening at 6th place, way behind the number one film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which set a then-new box office record with $169,189,427, beating The Dark Knight's $158,411,483 in 2008, and was also behind Michael Bay's film Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, this is the 2nd lowest in the Pooh series, ahead of 2005's Pooh's Heffalump Movie. In its second week, the film dropped just 34% to $5,162,046, having it at 8th place. The movie grossed $26,692,846 in the US and $6,460,000 internationally for a total of $33,152,846. The international grosses include $4.13 million in Japan, $1.33 million in Germany, $1.29 million in Poland, $1.18 million in the UK and $1.14 million in Russia.
- Main article: Winnie the Pooh (video)
The film was released in the UK on DVD only on August 22, 2011. In the US, it was released on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download on October 25, 2011. The releases included animated shorts The Ballad of Nessie and Mini-Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: "Pooh's Balloon", as well as deleted scenes.
Awards and Nominations
The film won 1 out of 7 Annie Award nominations and received 2 more nominations making the total of 1 win and 8 nominations.
|Annie Awards||Animated Effects in an Animated Production||Dan Lund||Nominated|
|Character Animation in a Feature Production||Andreas Deja|
|Directing in a Feature Production||Don Hall|
|Music in a Feature Production||Zooey Deschannel, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Henry Jackman, Robert Lopez|
|Production Design in a Feature Production||Paul Felix|
|Storyboarding in a Feature Production||Jeremy Spears||Won|
|Writing in a Feature Production||Story by Brian Kesinger, Kendelle Hoyer, Don Dougherty, Clio Chiang, Don Hall, Stephen Anderson, Nicole Mitchell, Jeremy Spears||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Animated Film|
|Online Film Critics Society||Best Animated Film|
- This is the first Walt Disney Animation Studios feature to have a post-credits scene since Brother Bear.
- This is the last WDAS feature to have the 2006-present Walt Disney Pictures logo (2006-2011 version).
- This is also the last WDAS feature to have the "Walt Disney Pictures Presents" credit.
- Currently, this is the last traditionally animated entity in the Disney canon to date.
- This is the first WDAS film to feature a voice actor to reprise a role originated in a Disneytoon Studios film, as Travis Oates voiced Piglet since Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie, as well as the first WDAS film to feature a voice actor reprising a role originated in a TV series, since Jim Cummings voiced Winnie the Pooh and Tigger since the 1988 TV series The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
- This is also the first traditionally animated Disney theatrical film to include both a storybook opening and a storybook closing since Sleeping Beauty, as Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World (the first Disney film overall to include both) was a direct to video midquel, and A Christmas Carol (the first Disney-made theatrical film) was a 3D-animated theatrical film.
- This is currently the most recent Walt Disney Animation Studios film to be rated G by the MPAA (although the shorts continue to be designated that rating from the MPAA), as that company's following films continue to get PG ratings from the MPAA with Wreck-It Ralph onwards, due to the rating system being more strict as of 2010. In fact, when the film's official website was first published, it was once mistaken to be rated PG by the MPAA before the rating was removed (due to an editing error, possibly being copied from the Tangled official website) as the film was too childish for that rating.
- This was Walt Disney Animation Studios' last feature-length film to include cartoon sound effects until 2016's Moana, as most of that company's feature-length films would continue to be more realistic with a completely different sound design with Wreck-It Ralph (which would include some cartoon-like sound effects for certain scenes, especially the Sugar Rush scenes) up until Zootopia (like the Pixar films).
- This was the first Walt Disney Animation Studios film to be scored by British composer Henry Jackman, who would eventually become a recurring composer of films from that studio after Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline, Paul J. Smith, Oliver Wallace, George Bruns, Alan Menken, Mark Mancina, John Debney, and James Newton Howard and before Christophe Beck.
- Pooh Bear, Tigger, and Piglet are the only characters to retain their current voice actors (Jim Cummings and Travis Oates respectively).
- This is the only theatrical animated sequel/reboot film whose predecessor was previously animated using xerography.
- The working title for this film was Winnie the Pooh and the Day in Which Many Things Happened.
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)
- Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore (1983)
- Christopher Robin (2018)