When I was younger, I distinctly remember playing Poohsticks with my dad on a bridge in our local park. The aim of the game was for each player to drop a branch in the water on one side of the bridge. Whichever one came out first on the other side was the winner. I bring this up because earlier this week, Disney unveiled new clips for its upcoming Winnie the Pooh. It is a return to hand-drawn animation for a company whose main focus has been on computer animated features recently (save for The Princess and the Frog, of course).
It goes without mentioning at this point that I am an avid Disney fan—heck, this column might as well be renamed “A Disney Frame of Mind” at this rate, but I just couldn’t ignore one of my favorite characters return to the screen.
I have loved Winnie the Pooh ever since I was a child, when my parents read all of A.A. Milne’s original books to me. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was one of my favorite movies as a child, and I devoured every new episode of the television show based on the film that I could get my tiny hands on. When I was seven, I cried during the straight-to-video release Pooh’s Grand Adventure. (Hey, even back then I was pretty in touch with my emotions).
I was such a fan of the big yellow Pooh Bear, in fact, that I had my parents name my younger brother after the only human to ever grace the Hundred Acre Woods, Christopher Robin. While they refused to add Robin as a middle name (“He’ll get teased!” they hissed at me while I sulked disappointedly in the corner), Christopher is a living, breathing reminder of my Winnie-phase.
I remember going to London when I was in seventh grade, and apart from all of the typical touristy attractions that we tackled, I begged to be taken to the Hundred Acre Woods. Yes, they do in fact exist, as a guidebook that I’m sure my parents then regretted buying so vividly informed me. Five Hundred Acre Wood, as it is actually called, is located in East Sussex, which was quite a trek from London without a rental car, so sadly we passed on the opportunity.
When I was 14, my family took a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, where we rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the park’s Fantasyland. It was surprising to me how much I still enjoyed the attraction, as well as how much I was still put off by the brief Heffalumps and Woozles section. Those things haunted my nightmares for as long as I can remember, only to be replaced by Animal from The Muppets (come on, he’s just creepy). While taking a Chinese Philosophy class in senior year of high school, my teacher recommended that we read the brilliant Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet, both of which cleverly dealt with the explanation of Taoism. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
So why, then, am I so thrilled at the prospect of a new movie featuring Winnie, Kanga, Tigger, and all of the rest of the wonderful cast of characters? Perhaps it is the simple whimsy that the trailer so briefly shows. Plot points seem to include finding a new tail for Eeyore and Pooh’s journey to a land rich with honey. Additionally, Zooey Deschanel supplies much of the film’s soundtrack. It would be impossible for me to describe, in what space I have remaining, my love for Deschanel—her acting is always flawless and her beautiful voice always brings warmth to my days. It was charming to watch Tigger bounce up on down on the piano keys as Deschanel plinked and plunked away at them.
Judging by the trailer alone, there really is no chance that Disney could do any wrong to this storied series—not even by replacing the voice of Owl with Craig Ferguson (who I love, but I don’t like recognizing his voice). Here’s to the hopes that another generation gets the chance to fall in love with the roly-poly bear that won my heart not so very long ago.