Friday, June 1, 2012

D52 - Week 22 - The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Kevin's part...

There are so many comparisons I could make to explain why I like the original character Winnie the Pooh - as read in the books or seen in most of these adventures - so much better than the later incarnations. It pretty much has to do with the writing and the "voice" (not literally who provides his vocalization - though I do think Jim Cummings does a damn fine replacement) of the character. Let's pick, say, The Muppets. Kermit nowadays still looks about the same, and he has the same personality in spirit, but...well, when there's a person behind his words, it's not quite the same Kermit. Jim Henson could be Kermit the Frog. Anyone else can only do an impersonation.
I feel the same way about Winnie the Pooh. Milne had a great unique way with words that was all the more difficult to copy for how natural it seemed to him. The way the characters would use his own invented phrases as if they were everyday idioms that everyone already knows. I particularly like the phrase "[feeling] just a little eleven o'clockish." The appeal of Pooh and his friends - to me anymore - is not so much about what they do or how they do it as much as how they talk about what they are doing.
So I was pleased that, if anything, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh directly quotes from its source material. To not do so would've been missing the point so badly! I can't necessarily say the same for the subsequent adventures of Winnie the Pooh, such as The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Pooh & Friends, the direct-to-video titles, that weird super sleuths series featuring the new character Darby (what's her back story anyway? Is she...Christopher Robin's friend? Who...just lets her play with all of his stuffed animals sometimes?). Such a shame that Pooh would be relegated to the "Mickey Mouse" role of being mainly a boring happy Mascot type, his main core of interestingness removed and replaced  with bland everyman-character stuffing. Until, maybe, his next feature film? Well, I'll have to get back to that on the second-to-last week of the year, won't I?
As for the "other stuff" of TMAoWtP, it is hard not to get flashbacks from previous package films since, well, this is one. It's just that now we get a series of short features all featuring the same characters and setting. As much as I like the characters - as originally written - I'm not sure if they appeal holds well in large batches. I don't think I would even care to read all of the books in one go. I enjoy the first two of the three chunks quite a bit but start to get a bit restless around the "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" mark. Maybe most kids fare better than me. I think I'd just suggest breaking up the viewings, watching them in their original lengths on different days. Reading only a chapter or so for bedtime stories seems to work as well.
My favorite thing about the animation is, also, with Pooh himself. It's the way he moves as if an invisible hand were "making him walk" from place to place. He's a stuffed bear who moves the way stuffed bears "actually" move. There's a bit of it in some of the other characters...well, not Rabbit or Owl. Or Gopher. Hmm, wonder why they're not as "plushy." Is...Gopher not one of Christopher Robin's toys, but an actual gopher? No no no, I can't go into how Christopher Robin's World actually works without going in way too deeply over my own head. There are just too many questions about it!
How about the music? Oh, Sherman Brothers, it's hard not to like your work. Hold the phone. *checks, double-checks* Is this really the last of the D52 features in which we're treated to their music? Disappointing! Granted we'll get Alan Menken soon enough, but...apples and oranges, though.

Favorite character: I want to sleep with Pooh bear.
Least necessary character: I think I actually prefer the Craig Ferguson Owl.
Link to video of an episode of Pinky & the Brain, my favorite WtP parody to date: The Megalomaniacal Adventures of Brainie the Poo

Amanda's part
Oh does this bring back everyone's childhood or what?  You can't watch a Winnie the Pooh short without just feeling good and nostalgic about childhood and imagination and the good old days when you made your toys talk instead of a little sound card inside their stomachs.  

I find I can't talk about the movie if you can call it that without considering the books at the same time.  I must admit that Disney's version is satisfying to me when compared with the books.  There's a sense of nonsense about the animated version that I think was well carried from Milne's stories.  Things that are just silly to an adult would of course make perfect sense to a child and would be easily acted out by his stuffed friends.  Of course, I'm not entirely convinced that Owl and Rabbit are stuffed toys despite seeing them in the room at the beginning and end of the group of shorts.  I always assumed that they were actual animals in Christopher Robin's back yard which could be why they seem like the least agreeable characters prefering to do things their own way rather than Christopher Robin's way.  

Aside from this, I can't find myself wanting to say anything that Kevin hasn't already said particularly when it comes to the package featureness of this movie.  I greatly prefer watching the shorter versions as they were originally made.

Favorite Characters: The Heffalumps and Woozles.  This is what the Pink Elephants of Dumbo should have been like.  Insane and wild, but much less disorienting and disturbing. 
Least necessary character: Does Gopher even belong in this story?  He shows up in just one short that I noticed and he's of no help, so why even bother.

Overall: If you have a very strong  sense of concentration, you can watch this as a whole movie, but I really think it's most enjoyable in the smaller original parts.  Don't even bother with Super Sleuths (double u tee eff what is that about?)

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