Disney’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” (1977) Review

Image: Disney, Wikipedia

Winnie the Pooh has a review!

PLOT –

In the Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh and friends weather many storms: trying to get honey from a tree, getting stuck in a hole, surviving a windy day, and getting stuck in a tree, but with the help of Christopher Robin, anything is possible!

The plot is comprised of shorter stories (actually a series of vignettes released earlier compiled into a single film), yet they are all connected by character. The stories are cute and simple, and also surprisingly realistic and down-to-earth. Not many Disney films deal with natural disasters, scrounging for food resources, or the logistics of digging someone out of a hillside and how much expenses it would cost (why is this needed again?), and I appreciate this.

The first act runs into some character sacrifice at the expense of the story, however, and story should never sacrifice character. These stories are mostly character-driven, and fit the characters, but the first act doesn’t gel well with the rest of the film.

My PLOT RATING is 4 / 5.

CHARACTERS –

Winnie the Pooh (Sterling Holloway) is our lovable title character. In the later two acts, at least. Pooh is selfish, short-sighted, and somewhat rude in the first act of the film. He is called “a bear of very little brain” but usually he has a little more tact than this. His main motive in this film is ‘Hunny’ when it should be friendship, and it takes him half the film to do something nice for someone else out of the generosity of his heart.

Tigger (Paul Winchell) is much more worthy of being a stand-up character, and for all of his faults, his main focus is the happiness of others. Sure, he may be annoying to the characters in the film, but I really identify with Tigger here. Most of the cast is apathetic and even lacking in general cheer most of the time, and Tigger is there to brighten up everyone’s day. That isn’t to say that Tigger is happy 100% of the time, but I seriously commend him for trying.

Rabbit (Junius Matthews) is the anti-Tigger, anti-Pooh, and practically most other characters. As a child, I always thought of him as an antagonist, but he was just way more stern and practical than the rest of the 100-Acre Wood residents. He is just a grumpy, unhappy character, and I also understand his point of view, where his orderly, neat life is upset daily by the chaos of those around him and he just wants to relax.

Christopher Robin (Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, Timothy Turner) is the ‘hero’ of the film. Always helping others, and basically perfect. He is the mentor to the group, and how he meshes with these personalities makes for the more calming moments of the film. All of the characters know that everything is going to be all right once he arrives, and having their leader be absent for most of the day is the crux of the story. What do these differing personalities do without their calming side?

Other characters include the Narrator (Sebastin Cabot doing really well here, as always) Piglet (John Fiedler, perfect for the character), Owl (Hal Smith, playing a stuffy, self-absorbed British type), Eeyore (Ralph Wright, playing a melancholy donkey with dry humor and a hint of helpfulness) Kanga (Barbara Luddy) and Roo (Clint Howard, Dori Whitaker, who are often overshadowed characters in the canon), and Gopher (Howard Morris, playing an unnecessary character added for humor and a carbon copy of the Beaver from Lady and the Tramp).

My CHARACTERS RATING is  4 / 5.

DIALOGUE –

The dialogue in the film is full of whimsey and delight. There are a lot of little logic jokes and word-humor, which I love, but the average viewer may take a moment to settle into. Each character has their own speech patterns and verbage, as well as a variety of differently-toned voices. The script also literally almost goes off-book, breaking the fourth wall sometimes, a first for a Disney Animated film.

My DIALOGUE RATING is 5 / 5.

EFFECTS –

The scratchy animation has downgraded, and the style has moved away from the traditional Disney style. It’s visually striking compared to the other films, and quite the treat. There are some creative uses of the film / book medium used, and the ‘Heffalumps and Woozles’ sequence is brilliantly animated. There aren’t any other notables to speak of, as it seems like the weather, water, and fur effects are not the focus in this film.

My EFFECTS RATING is 4 / 5.

MUSIC –

The Sherman Brothers have done it again! The music in this film is a classic. Easy to hum, fun to sing, and all-around great.

“Winnie the Pooh” – Nothing beats this. It’s iconic and perfectly sets up the characters and setting.

“Up, Down, and Touch the Ground” – Pooh’s stretching song, and actually could be good for children to learn as they grow.

“Rumbly in My Tumbly” – This is way too adorable, and sums up Pooh to a ‘T’.

“Little Black Rain Cloud” – Dreamlike and floaty, really cute.

“Mind Over Matter” – A marching song that helps keep time to pull Pooh from the hillside.

“A Rather Blustry Day” – A kind of darker song with a deep brass section, presenting challenge to the characters.

“The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” – Tigger’s anthem and I LOVE IT. Paul Winchell gives this one his all.

“Heffalumps and Woozles” – The ‘villain song’ of the film, and contains some impressive vocalizations and tonal shifts.

“When the Rain Rain Rain Came Down” – Similar to the ‘Rain Song’ from Bambi, and catchier to boot!

“Hip Hip Pooh-Ray!” – A nice ‘champion song’ for the ‘hero of the day’. It’s a nice song.

My MUSIC RATING is 5 / 5.

OVERALL –

The Winnie the Pooh franchise is something that I have a lot of nostalgia for. I haven’t seen this film in years, and I am more familiar with everything after this film, as well as the 2011 film, but for the debut of Pooh as part of the Disney Animated Canon, it’s a great start and paves the way for future Pooh projects. As a compilation of shorts, this film shows the ‘greatest hits’ version of life in the 100-Acre Wood, and while the plot bends to Pooh’s ‘Hunny’-wanting tendencies, it quickly straightens itself out later on. This film does seem to derail Pooh and makes him extremely short-sighted in the first act, later softening him up, and the rest of the characters, Gopher aside, are spot-on and wonderful. The dialogue is just plain fun and very clever. The animation effects, while nothing really new, boasts new character designs, breaking the fourth wall, and the beautiful animation for ‘Heffalumps and Woozles’ is captivating. The songs are some of the most creative parts of the film, and they all still hit to this day.

                                               Watch this with your young ones.                                                 Cherish them. Hug them. Love them.

Image: Disney, Ocregister.com

My OVERALL RATING for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is 88%.

Next time, we’ll be in more contemporary times as we see not a Pooh Bear and a Tigger…

But a Fox and a Hound.

Stay Tuned!

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