The Profound, Sad Whimsicality of the Winnie the Pooh Trailer
A.A. Milne's misanthropic stuffed animals are back in Disney's upcoming Winnie the Pooh, a refreshingly 2-D trek back to the Hundred Acre Wood set for release in July 2011. With veteran voice actor Jim Cummings playing Pooh Bear and Tigger (now that beloved ventriloquist and Tigger voice Paul Winchell has passed on), it seems this animated adventure might be in the right hands -- even with newcomer Craig Ferguson lending his voice to Owl. But does the trailer make good on its delightful approach?
Over the years, Christopher Robin's voice has devolved into a babyish, bastardized coo, but otherwise this looks lovable. I don't support the use of Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know" (too dated and on-the-nose) and Zooey Deschanel's version of the opening theme worries me, but Winnie the Pooh's most remarkable quality is captured here: that wide-eyed but crestfallen wonderment. The movie benefits from the supervision of Disney animation overlord John Lasseter, who hasn't altered Winnie the Pooh's classically sumptuous watercolors one bit. Maybe films should also be eligible for the Caldecott Medal.
As for the voice actors, Craig Ferguson wouldn't have been my first choice to play the long-winded Owl (Was the ever-kerfluffled Jeremy Irons unavailable?), but he does droll grandiosity well. Jim Cummings's voice is pure, childhood-exhuming magic, and Peter Cullen's take on Eeyore is glum but light -- a reassuring choice now that Eeyore's been the Hot Topic crowd's dour backpack-sticker hero for a decade. Gilbert Gottfried plays a supporting role too, and I suspect he'll contrast nicely with the main cast's lullaby patois.
Bonus: This trailer is already more edifying than Winnie the Pooh's last two movies, The Tigger Movie and Piglet's Big Movie. Heffalumps be damned; I'm psyched.
VERDICT: Like Tiggers, the most wonderful thing about John Lasseters is he's the only one.