The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a 1977 animated film which is the 22nd Disney animated feature and the third released in the seventies. It is Disney’s most childlike film and a pretty underrated one at that as it has its many extraordinary moments.
As I said above, it is a Disney film that is intended mostly for children, but that is not a bad thing as it is never childish, but rather childlike with at times even sophisticated themes. It is an interesting movie and it held my attention from beginning to end. My main problem in terms of storytelling however is that it is awfully episodic in nature. It just goes from scene to scene in an abrupt manner and it just feels like a TV show consisting of a couple of episodes. And it is like that as Disney literally put three earlier short films into one movie of the feature-length format and the result is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. However, although it is evident what they did here, the stories still somewhat fit together into a whole with an appropriate beginning and conclusion.
And I like almost all of its parts a lot. The first story which is about Pooh’s quest for honey is easily the most entertaining and the most endearing of the bunch with a lot of charming moments. The Blustery Day segment is overlong but is still nicely done and it features one incredibly psychedelic sequence accompanied with a catchy song all in the style and a direct homage to ‘Dumbo’s Pink Elephants on Parade. That was a really nice touch. The third part features Tigger who is undoubtedly my favorite character. And of course I liked this segment because of him and his relationship with Rabbit, both very well done.
Now, the fourth part which closes the film is not a previously released segment but rather a new one added to link the stories together and conclude the film properly. And it paid off in spades as it is an absolutely astonishing ending. It is literally the whole reason to see this film in my opinion not only because it is so incredibly emotional and at the same time effervescent and a perfect finale for the film but also because it is the most adult-oriented part here with some sophisticated themes that really took my be surprise. The dialogue exchange here is gold in my opinion and the whole theme of growing up, childhood and adulthood is so incredibly well explored and in the conversation between Pooh and Robin you can sense the inevitability of growing up and the passage of time. It is a heartbreaking and immensely sweet ending that is in my opinion one of the best endings ever in the Disney canon and the most underrated one for sure.
Now, the characters. The character development in the movie is mostly really good. Winnie the Pooh I must admit I never particularly cared for, but he is charming at times and the relationship between him and Christopher Robin is the heart of the movie. Robin is really well realized as well but it is the other characters that to me shine the most. Rabbit is superb and the most realistic and nervous of the bunch and he great counteracts Tigger who is my fave as he is so energetic, endearing and simply fun. Eeyore unfortunately never gets his due here which is a shame as I like him a lot and Owl is pretty annoying in my book. Roo and Kanga are forgettable, Gopher is interesting for the jokes surrounding him and Piglet is an okay character, but never particularly enjoyable.
The animation in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is not worth some bigger praise but is still an improvement over the previous two films – ‘The Aristocats’ and ‘Robin Hood‘. It is never as lazy and as forgettable and although nowhere near as great as the classics, I still liked its color palette a lot with a lot of green and I love the character design which I found really well done. The animation here works as it has that book style to it which is a perfect fit for this source material and the sequences with the turning of the pages are the highlights, incredibly inventive and well executed. Those moments certainly lift the film to higher levels.
The soundtrack is I would say underappreciated as it has its fair share of enjoyable and memorable songs and is overall well scored. Some are just too short and childish like Rumbly in My Tumbly and some are solid but forgettable including Like a Rather Blustery Day and The Rain Come Down. But the title song is the standout piece of music as it is immensely catchy, endearing and a great fit for both the character and the movie. And it opened the film wonderfully. The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers is another great character song that perfectly introduces you to this great character and although short, it’s pretty catchy and fun. But Heffalumps and Woozles is a great homage to Pink Elephants on Parade as I mentioned before as it is wonderfully atmospheric, it has great lyrics and it is overall very well executed with great imagery which the movie has in abundance.
The voice acting is simply marvelous with Tigger’s voice actor being stupendous. But this is Sterling Holloway’s vehicle and he once again proves what a terrific Disney voice actor he is and a perfect fit for the role. The same cannot be said about the pacing as it is pretty bad. Some scenes are overlong and bored me and the whole episodic feel to it is never enjoyable. But it is overall solidly directed and wonderfully wrapped up. I really liked the childlike humor here as it surprised me that it has its funny moments. The movie is also inherently charming and it has a big heart, while also being smart at the end. The dialogue is also astonishingly good for a children’s film and the movie sometimes shines the brightest just because of it. And if I had to compare this film with other Disney movies, I would say that it is in the middle, very satisfying but never great. However, it is still pretty good, even an underrated feature and without a doubt the finest movie of the seventies along with ‘The Rescuers‘ and the vast improvement over the two previous films.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a pretty underappreciated Disney flick which is too episodic in nature and sometimes too uneven, but it is endlessly entertaining, wonderfully childlike and immensely endearing while also being really sophisticated with a heartbreaking, sweet and perfect ending that is one of the best in the Disney canon. It also has a solid soundtrack, fun characters, solid animation and great voice acting and it is certainly one of the best efforts from Disney at the time.