Release Date: July 15th, 2011
Inspiration: “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne
Budget: $30 million
Domestic Gross: $26.7 million
Worldwide Gross: $50.1 million
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
IMDB Score: 7.2/10
Storyline (per IMDB): During an ordinary day in Hundred Acre Wood, Winnie the Pooh sets out to find some honey. Misinterpreting a note from Christopher Robin, Owl convinces Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Pooh, Kanga, Roo, and Eeyore that their young friend has been captured by a creature named the Backson, and they set out to save him.
Pre-Watching Thoughts: We continue on through the 2010s with amazingly only the second sequel to be released in theaters as many were direct-to-video or direct-to-DVD, and for this sequel we travel back to the Hundred Acre Wood for more adventures with the bear of very little brain. This film was in an interesting spot as it almost felt like a simple palette cleanser after Tangled and right before the big films coming out after it. Obviously, this was going to be compared to the original from the 1970s and we will see how this film lives up to the first one or if it feels like an unnecessary sequel.
Voice Cast: Even though this film features characters that we have seen before, they are all voiced by different actors than back in 1977 for obvious reasons which is fine because that happens all the time. Unlike the last film, we do have some returning actors for this film as Jim Cummings returns to voice Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger in a dual role, and we also have Tom Kenny who voices Rabbit. Moving onto the newcomers, we have Bud Luckey who voices Eeyore as he was nearing the end of his career at this point, and then we have Craig Ferguson who voices Owl as he was hitting the peak of his career by this point. Next, we have child actors Jack Boulter and Wyatt Hall who voice Christopher Robin and Roo respectively, and then we have Travis Oates who voices Piglet in the most memorable role of his career. We then have Kristen Anderson-Lopez who voices Kanga though she is better known for being a songwriter and would become famous a few films from now, and then we have John Cleese who voices the narrator in a memorable and finally we have Huell Howser who voices the Backson in a minor role in his second and final film of his career. This was a fine group of actors to use to keep these characters alive and introduce them to a new audience, and you know that the next generation will have new actors as well which keeps the cycle going.
Other Characters: Obviously when it comes to this film, pretty much everyone that was in the first film was going to return for this one and the only question would be if any characters from the original wouldn’t be included and if there would be any new characters. As mentioned, almost all the characters return which include of course Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, Christopher Robin, and even the narrator which means the only character from the first film that doesn’t return is Gopher. We did actually a new character introduced here and that is the mysterious Backson, a creature described by Owl when he and the others believe that this creature kidnapped Christopher Robin. Even though Christopher Robin let them know it was a simple misunderstanding in his note, the Backson is revealed to be real though he is much kinder than believed and he does collect the items only to fall into the pit intended for him. With a franchise like this, you don’t have to have too many characters as it is all about the core group and they have their own stories that can keep the film moving along.
Songs: Similar to the first film, we have quite a number of songs for this film though they are mainly quick hits to keep the film moving along much like in the first film. The first song is the classic “Winnie-the-Pooh” except this version is sung by Zooey Deschanel who also provides vocals for a few other songs including the song “So Long” which is played during the credits, and then we have “The Tummy Song” sung by Pooh as he sings about having honey to eat. The next song is “A Very Important Thing to Do” which is sung as everyone is gathered together to find Eeyore a new tail, and then we have “The Winner Song” sung a few times when someone finds Eeyore a tail though it is never finished because the replacement is bad. The next song from the film is “It’s Gonna Be Great” sung by Tigger as he tries to make Eeyore like him in a fine song, and then we have “Everything is Honey” sung by Pooh as he hallucinates that he is surrounded by honey in a unique experience. Finally, we have “Pooh’s Finale” which is sung at the end when Pooh is awarded the giant pot of honey, and again all these songs are fine for the film though they are not nearly as memorable as the songs from the first film.
Plot: Much like the first film, this film draws inspiration from three stories done by A.A. Milne though at one point they were going to do five stories, but three was probably for the best as we had three in the previous film and adding more would’ve dragged things down. Throughout the course of the film, Eeyore loses his tail and his friends work together to find him a new one as Pooh also deals with trying to find honey to eat, and after Christopher Robin leaves a note saying he will be back soon, Pooh and his friends misinterpret it as him having been kidnapped by something called the “Backson”. They plot to trap the Backson though Pooh ends up falling in the trap after having hallucinations about honey, and all the friends fall into the pit though they manage to escape just as they find Christopher Robin who clears up the misunderstanding. Pooh discovers that Owl had taken Eeyore’s tail by mistake and was using it as a doorbell as Pooh takes it and returns it to Eeyore, and he is awarded with a giant pot of honey which he climbs into and swims around in. While the stories that this film is based off of are not nearly as memorable as the stories from the first film, they were still fine stories to adapt into a film and to showcase Pooh and his friends to a brand new audience.
Random Watching Thoughts: “C.R. Keep Ott”; Nice callback to the first film by having this film open in a bedroom like that one, though this room feels much more modern than the bedroom in the first film; It would’ve been better if the narration was exactly the same as the first film though it was close enough to being similar; Even though this film is done with traditional animation, you can easily tell this feels way more up-to-date than the original; It’s weird seeing Christopher Robin dressed up so formally and not in his yellow shirt and blue shorts; The look on Eeyore’s face when his collapses; Six pine trees; The narrator says Pooh is ready to greet the day with enthusiasm yet all Pooh wants to do is sleep; The book says “Pooh’s morning routine began with his exercises” and the narrator had to shake the book all around to wake him up; The narrator makes a good point in that he doesn’t want to spoil the story for Pooh or the audience; Pooh has all those honey pots yet none of them have honey in it; Those bees were not in the mood to deal with Pooh that day; It is always interesting seeing the characters interact with the actual words in the book; Where would Eeyore actually keep a pot of honey?; Owl seems like the kind of animal that would write a memoir about himself; So Owl’s talent is speaking and telling people what to do; “crustimoney proseedcake”; So Owl says “issue” and both Pooh and Eeyore think that he sneezed; The problem for solving Eeyore’s scratchy throat is honey according to Pooh; Owl asks Pooh to write down his plan on that paper and all Pooh does is draw a picture of himself diving into a pot of honey; That’s a lot of signs to put up for just the few that live in the Hundred Acre Wood; He actually split the sign up to put in both Kanga and Roo’s mailboxes; He might’ve overdone it with putting all those signs in Rabbit’s garden; I love how they treat that balloon like it’s a real character; You think Tigger is stalking Pooh and yet he bounces on the balloon; Tigger must have a lot of static electricity if that balloon kept sticking to his body; Tigger thinks highly of himself if he considers himself the hero of the Hundred Acre Wood; Pooh has enough thought to push Piglet and the jack-in-the-box down; Rabbit says that he needs pruning shears, but what if he didn’t win the contest?; Pooh really thought that a pine cone would be a good tail; Of all the things to use, Pooh would use his cuckoo clock; They had this big celebratory song and it all fell apart when Eeyore sat down on the clock and broke it; Either that balloon is full of a heavy gas or Eeyore is just really light if he can be pulled up that easily; They tried a lot of different and unique items; Kanga is so over the song by this point; That’s a specific time for Pooh’s stomach to be feeling; I’m trying to remember the last film where we had so much breaking of the fourth wall; He put the “P” back upside down; That scarf didn’t last very long; How could Eeyore not notice he was dragging all those words behind him?; “Don’t Nock, Plez Ring”; “Tael”; Pooh can’t read most words, but it’s the strange ones that really get him; Pooh reaching up like that shouldn’t have caused his stuffing to pop out of his stomach like that; “Gon Out, Bizy, Back Soon. C.R.”, with spelling like that I’m surprised Owl can’t read it; Owl somehow deduces that the note is a ransom note and Christopher Robin was kidnapped; The Backson is malicious, ferocious, and terribly busy; Of all the places Piglet could hide, it would be in Kanga’s pouch; Owl makes so much noise just drawing with chalk that he might’ve well used his claws; So the chalkboard has become like Mr. Whoopie’s three dimensional blackboard from the old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons; Of all the features for the Backson would have, it has a nose piercing; It seems like all the things the Backson do are just minor inconveniences and it wouldn’t bother with something like kidnapping; That moment when you think Owl will realize that he mistook “Back Soon” for “Backson”, but he brushes it aside; I know he wasn’t trying to be mean, but Pooh could’ve helped Piglet a bit with digging that hole; Pooh is so particular that he needs one of the rocks in one specific corner; That’s a lot of stuff to use; You would think they were preparing for a major battle with the way they are setting things up; Pooh just had to re-arrange the blocks to spell “Huny”; Owl is using various means to get those objects on high points completely forgetting that he can just fly; Rabbit makes all these motions and all Pooh and Piglet can do is wave back at him; Poor Eeyore thinks he deserved getting tackled when Tigger didn’t mean to do it; Give Tigger some credit for trying to include Eeyore; So Tigger’s whole thing has been that he is the only one, yet he has no problem trying to turn Eeyore into a “Tigger”; The letters actually spell out “Help” as Eeyore falls down the hill; Eeyore is using a carrot and pumpkins as a mouthpiece and boxing gloves; Advanced Tigger training; Tigger leaves all those tracks and thinks the Backson is trailing him; Why is there a random anchor in the river?; Pooh didn’t expect to shoot Piglet right through the beehive; Poor Piglet; Pooh even has to force Piglet to carry him as they run from the bees; Rabbit just casually puts the beehive on the tree and the bees just go back into it as if nothing happened; Rabbit tells Pooh not to think of honey anymore, does he know who he is talking to? I would like to know a time when Pooh is thinking about anything besides honey; All the characters say “Honey”, the narrator says “Honey”, and even all the words in the book are “Honey”; I feel like this sequence for “Everything is Honey” is an homage to the “Heffalumps and Woozles” Scene from the first film; He forgot very quickly that the jar on the blanket was the decoy for the Backson; Owl thinks he is too important to try and sacrifice himself; Roo pretty much threw Piglet under the bus; Pooh really thinks that his stomach as a mind of its own; Now Eeyore is somehow strong enough to pull that anchor behind him; Rabbit can swing that anchor around with ease yet somehow it becomes so heavy that it pulls all of them into the pit; Why would Piglet think that one flower would be enough to pull them out?; If only we could know what the name of that book was; Somehow, Piglet deduces that he has to cut the rope into 6 pieces for each one of them; That whole “knot” discussion made my brain hurt; Owl just flew out of the pit and back into it, but all Rabbit can say is that his speech to Piglet was great; The balloon just happened to be stuck in the tree at this point; Tigger should’ve realized he still had his costume on and that was freaking Piglet out; He just happened to knock all those letters into the pit; Piglet is so scared that he doesn’t think to lure Tigger into the pit and just wants to get into it himself; Even Eeyore has to remind Tigger that it is best that there is only one; Owl is happy that he can continue to write his memoirs; Despite having a small brain, Pooh had enough sense to use the letters to create a ladder; Kanga should be thankful she had her knitting equipment so she can knit some earmuffs for herself; The letters just happened to be arranged so it says “And so they all used the letter ladder to climb out of the pit”; I just realized that one of Christopher Robin’s socks is slumped down while the other is pulled up on his leg; Owl realizes he screwed up and got out of there in a hurry; Rabbit built all that up and made Pooh so excited only to give the honey to the balloon; What would a balloon possibly be able to do with a pot of honey?; Eeyore is like “Everyday is a day where I can’t win”; The audience is probably dying wanting Pooh to realize that is Eeyore’s tail that he’s looking so hard at; Owl wants recognition for having completed his memoirs; It just so happens that Owl talks about finding his “bell rope” that Pooh finally realizes that it is Eeyore’s tail; Owl realizes he took Eeyore’s tail and spins it around by saying he was taking care of it; That brief struggle for Pooh to forego the honey and return the tail to Eeyore; It’s amazing that Eeyore thinks that is a completely different tail when it looks like the same one that he’s used for years; Eeyore likes the tail, but he is still unhappy; How did Christopher Robin fit that giant pot of honey in his house?; Roo hands Pooh a bowl and spoon to use only to throw the spoon away and use the bowl to climb into the pot; Pooh says he won’t be hungry again for a long time yet his stomach rumbles mere seconds later; It was pretty cool how they re-did the scenes with the live-action stuffed animals; I believe this is the first time where they had the characters actually interact with the credits as opposed to just acting as if they didn’t exist; Piglet and Roo draw Eeyore’s top with Tigger’s bottom; Eeyore looks like “Of course I would get caught up on these credits”; “Pooh Babies”; I believe this is also the first time they mention the babies that were born during production, but this is also the first time I’ve noticed it so I might be wrong on that; Pooh knocks the honey pot off the credits and a few seconds later, it lands on Owl and the honey gets all over his memoirs; In Memoriam of Dan Read, an extraordinary artist whose talents, passion, and courage continue to inspire us all; Not only does the Backson actually exist, but he is actually a nice creature that is freaked out by the portrait that he doesn’t know is of him.
Overall Thoughts: Overall, this was a perfectly fine film that wasn’t quite as good or memorable as the first one, but it was still solid enough and was better than most of the films from the last decade. I had mentioned earlier that this felt like a simple palette cleanser off the last two films and the next few films were going to be much bigger than this, and it also didn’t help that this came out on the same weekend as the last Harry Potter film so it was easily overlooked. It was smart that Winnie-the-Pooh was recognizable enough that those that saw could get some good nostalgia, and starting with the next film we would begin a run of films that could rank up there with some of the greatest of the past. As for this film, it was a good film that invoked a lot of nostalgia even if it didn’t quite match its predecessor in terms of memorability.
Final Grade: 6/10