First Theatrical Release: April 15, 2011 (UK); and July 15, 2011 (US)
First Home Viewing Release:August 22, 2011 (UK); and October 25, 2011 (US)
My Rating: 2.5/5 stars
Where I Found It: My library’s DVD collection
Bechdel Test Score: Failed. Female characters include Kanga. That. Is. All.
Wait a minute, didn’t we already do this back in week 22? Apparently, much to my dismay, Disney was not yet done with Pooh in 1977, forcing me to sit through not one, but two feature-length Pooh movies for this project. Luckily, this one was only 63 minutes. (Which is one of the things the critics didn’t like about it.)
Although this movie was made 44 years after the original, it stayed fairly true to the first one in tone and style, even if some of the voices felt a little “off.” But this one did not skimp on the creepy, trippy forays into the characters’ imaginations, much as we all know and love/hate from the first one. (The Heffalumps and Woozels sequence has gotta be one of the scariest in the whole Disney canon.)
Nonetheless, Roger Ebert called THIS movie “a nightmare-proof experience for even the youngest viewers.” He must’ve been watching a different movie than me.
Also, as light-hearted as this movie seems, its two main through-line stories are pretty dark. I felt physically uncomfortable while watching this movie in a way I haven’t in most of the others. Here’s why.
So, the movie starts out with Eeyore discovering that he is “incomplete” and that his tail has disappeared. He goes through the whole movie hoping to be reunited to his missing body part, and Christopher Robin bribes his friends with a promise of a honey pot to whoever finds a suitable tail replacement for Eeyore. This motivates them to attempt to affix all sorts of inappropriate objects to his ass, such as cuckoo clocks, balloons, scarves, etc. Is it significant that Eeyore puts forth absolutely no effort on his own behalf? I mean, aside from the fact that he’s suffering from clinical depression.
In the end, Pooh finds that Owl is using Eeyore’s tail as a handle for his doorbell, which is also kind of creepy. Also, it’s disturbing that Owl does not even recognize his friend’s body part. Pay more attention to your friends, Owl!
There’s one scene with Eeyore that is especially squirm-inducing. Tigger decides that he is going to transform Eeyore into “Tigger 2,” and he attaches a spring to Eeyore’s rump so that he can bounce with Tigger. He also paints stripes on him. All of this occurs without Eeyore’s consent, and he goes through the whole episode looking bewildered and a little violated. And as I was watching, I kept asking myself, Why is this making me so uncomfortable?
And near the end of the sequence, I was like, “I know what this is! This is an extrovert trying to force an introvert to live in his world and play by his rules.”
Tigger is short-sighted or self-centered enough that he doesn’t pick up on any of Eeyore’s clues that he is not having a good time. He assumes that since he likes all the stimulation, Eeyore must like it, too. And Eeyore, in typical introvert fashion, takes longer to gather his thoughts (especially while being bombarded with an extrovert’s energy) and also does not enjoy confrontation, so he doesn’t speak up about how draining he finds the Tigger lifestyle to be. Eventually, he manages to escape it by hiding at the bottom of a river, and that’s when everything really “clicked” for me — as I have found myself hiding in many a bathroom rather than pretend to enjoy something I do not, or show that I’m NOT enjoying it and be branded as a poor sport, overly negative, etc.
So, yeah, Eeyore, I’m right down at the bottom of that river with ya.
The other through-line that is even MORE disturbing because it is so visceral is Pooh’s hunger.
He awakes, as many of us do, with his tummy grumbling. But then he finds that his honey pots are all empty (been there), and he goes out into the world, letting his tummy lead the way, searching for something to eat. But he runs into Eeyore and gets involved in the whole tail debacle before he finds anything to eat, and because he is hungry, he becomes especially fixated on being the one to locate a new tail so he can win the honey pot prize and GET SOMETHING TO EAT.
It’s kind of a running gag throughout the movie that Pooh keeps coming into close contact with honey but never eating more than a little bit. He gets a honey pot given to him when he finds a substitute tail for Eeyore, only to have it taken away when the tail doesn’t work out. He tries to get a honey pot down from on top of a bookshelf at Owl’s house, but Owl pulls out the stack of books he is standing on so he can no longer reach it. He finds a honey pot left out for the “Backson” but remembers that it’s only bait and thus, empty. And through this all, the plot continues — the gang tries to hunt a creature that doesn’t actually exist, they fall into a hole, they do all sorts of silly things. AND POOH IS STILL HUNGRY.
At least a full day goes by in the course of this movie, and my stomach was aching with sympathy the longer it went on. Sure, none of the other characters ate much during the course of the movie, either, but they probably had breakfast. And all of them INSIST that Pooh just keep going along with the present adventures, absolutely indifferent to the fact that THEIR FRIEND IS WEAK WITH HUNGER.
Pooh, you’ve got some really bad friends.
I related to Pooh because I often feel acutely at the mercy of my body just as he is in this movie. Whereas my husband can eat lunch and then “forget” to eat again until nine at night, my body insists that I feed it at least every four hours, regardless of whether it’s convenient or not. And when my body makes such insistences, I cannot concentrate on work, I snap at friends and family, and pretty much just feel like life is a big pile of suck until I finally get my hands on a protein bar. Hopefully I haven’t developed a migraine in the meantime.
What’s interesting about Pooh’s hunger in this movie is that it’s the only time we see a Disney character who is totally driven by a corporal need. Usually our main characters have loftier end goals. Aladdin wants to live in the palace. Ariel wants to be human. Pongo and Perdita want to find their puppies. Lady wants to endear herself to Jim Dear and Darling after the baby’s birth. Belle wants adventure. The fact that all these characters must also have physical needs is glossed over as unseemly. But not with Pooh. Pooh JUST WANTS TO EAT. And really, that shouldn’t be too much to ask.
So, to all Pooh’s friends: food does not need to be EARNED. It should not be given out as a “prize.” It’s a human right, and the next time your friend is hungry, invite him inside and give him a sandwich, for God’s sake, and have your adventures after.