Who's In It: The voices of Jim Cummings, John Cleese, Bud Luckey, Craig Ferguson, Jack Boulter, Travis Oates, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Wyatt Dean Hall, Tom Kenny, Huell Howser
The Basics: In which Pooh finds himself to be quite out of honey."Oh, bother," sighs Pooh. Compounding the drama, Eeyore cannot seem to locate his missing tail. Meanwhile, heightening the frenzy, Christopher Robin leaves for the day and when his animal friends find his note telling them that he'll be "back soon," they think it means he's been kidnapped by a monster called a Backson. As you can see, it's all terrifically packed with incident.
What's The Deal: The world of Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood is a quiet, gentle, kind, generous place. In other words, it's the exact opposite of every single other children's film or TV show in existence in the year 2011. Nobody brawls, nobody farts, nobody has a sassy mouth, a bad attitude, a mean spirit, a working definition of sarcasm or any connection to edgy adult humor. And that makes this 68-minute feature the most daring, adventurous, bold, pitch-perfect animated movie of the year. It's for very young audiences whose parents are attentive enough to know the difference between lowest common denominator cartoon product and lovingly created children's culture. It's also for those parents (or any adult feeling a little nostalgic) in need a sweet reunion with characters they've loved all their lives. Everybody wins here.
Retro-Branding: This is old-school, hand-drawn, watercolor-background, classic Disney stuff. No expensive digital glasses needed, no Black Eyed Peas soundtrack to punish your ears (songs are by Book of Mormon Tony Award-winner Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson Lopez, inspired by vintage Sherman Brothers music from the original 1960s Pooh featurettes) and no aggressive, sore-thumb celebrity voice casting. It's just A.A. Milne-based stories with simple messages of selfless behavior and friendship. So if you were worried about a moderned-up Pooh-N-Palz 3D Machine Gun Adventure, you can relax. This is as welcome a re-launch as you could hope for, full or respect and love for its source material.
Nicely Padded With: The Ballad of Nessie, a sweet animated short about the Loch Ness Monster, narrated by Billy Connolly. Depending on how many trailers you get in whatever theater you're in, you should be out in about 90 minutes, the perfect pre-K attention span threshold.