WinniethePoohcoverGrade:  B+
Entire family:  Yes (but mostly for young ones)
1977, 74 min., Color
Rated G
Aspect ratio:  1.66:1
Featured audio:  DEHT 5.1
Bonus features:  C-
Includes:  Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

Watching The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is kind of like riding on “It’s a Small World” at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It’s a ride obviously designed for families with small children, but many adults seem to enjoy it as well. However, if you position yourself atop the bridge and watch the little boats return, you’ll see by the faces of the older children that they’re reluctant passengers. So it will be with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Though Milne said he wrote not for children but for the child within us all, Disney’s “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” is clearly designed for very young viewers, as the bonus features (get up and march along or bounce along) attest. And Pooh is a kinder, gentler cartoon than anything older children are accustomed to seeing on television.  

Disney has made a number of features by cobbling together shorter stories, but none more cleverly and successfully than this one. Using the proven device of an open book with pages turning, Disney animators had scenes come alive in miniature on the page before the cameras pull back and the animation unfolds on the big screen. As the narrator talks, characters do things like walking ahead to the next page, or in some cases walking back to see what the narrator was talking about. It’s downright clever, and each of the three segments function as chapters. Included here are three short subjects made during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s:  “Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree” (1966), “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day” (1968), and “Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too” (1974). The animation changes slightly, as does Christopher Robin’s voice, but the book conceit works well enough to smooth things over.

WinniethePoohscreenOne reason that the Pooh stories appeal to very young children is that they’re entirely simple, paced slowly enough for young minds to follow, and based on small but fantastic problems that need to be solved—problems that challenge preschoolers. The watercolor palette is as gentle as the stories, and the overall effect is that Milne’s tales of British lad Christopher Robin, his stuffed animals, and creatures who live in the Hundred Acre Wood charmingly come to life.

In the first story, Pooh’s craving for honey will strike a chord with children who have a sweet tooth. He’ll go to any length to get some, even if it means getting stuck in a tree or eating so much at Rabbit’s house that he can’t make it out of the hole again. “Oh bother.”

In the second, it’s such a windy day that it soon turns into a real storm, and rain swells the creek, flooding the whole area. Characters get separated and lost, and a fantasy sequence will remind viewers of the one with pink elephants on parade in Dumbo. Of course, all’s well that ends well, and in this episode Tigger is introduced and provides enough comic relief to blunt any scariness.

The third segment features a playful Tigger wanting to bounce, and finally getting mother Kanga’s permission to play with her little Roo. And of course they bounce so high that they get stuck in a tree and need everyone’s help to get down. In this tale Pooh also becomes paranoid seeing animal tracks and is convinced there’s a “Jagular” in the woods following them. But of course the explanation is Scooby-Doo! simple. Simpler, actually, which is why, again, that it will appeal to mostly preschool age children and their parents.