BOOK OF POOH, THE
Reviewed December 10th, 2001 by Brian White
Winnie the Pooh is one of Disney’s most popular franchises. We’re used to seeing Pooh in cartoon form. The Book of Pooh is a whole new take on Pooh, that also echoes Pooh’s past. Here we have puppets that look like the cartoon characters, animated in front of colorful, computerized backgrounds. The look is very faithful to the cartoon, and something about the spirit of these toy-looking characters brought to life is also faithful to the toys in Christopher Robin’s room.
How are the stories in the Book of Pooh? Delightful. The stories are very cute and entertaining. The new presentation of the characters does not get in the way of the enjoyment of these stories. There’s a story about Pooh, where he looks for adventure, and finds it close to home; a story about Rabbit, which is really about Tigger, where the striped one takes up gardening to become closer to the cranky rodent; a story about Piglet, which is also more about Tigger, seeing the pig disguised as “Tiglet;” there is a story about Eeyore, where the depressed donkey celebrates a “tailiversary;” and a story about a new character, Kessie, which isn’t that great. I’m not down with new characters, like Kessie. They should have used an original character like Kanga.
Despite any reservations about Kessie, I’ve got to say that The Book of Pooh captures the spirit of Winnie the Pooh. There are some cute songs here as well.
So the cynic inside me wants to tell you that Disney turned to this puppet animation style to save a buck. Certainly it must be cheaper and faster to film a bunch of puppets and animate a background than it is to do traditional animation. This video is based on the series by the same name (these stories may or may not have appeared on the show already). There is a certain sloppiness to the super-impositions, but that might be intentionally part of the look. Tigger’s whiskers tend to disappear because of the matting.
How does the video look? Very good. There is plenty of detail and color. You can see all of the detail in the textures on the puppets quite clearly. The disc is non-anamorphic, 1.33:1, full-frame.
How does the disc sound? A lovely 5.1 mix has been created for this video. While it isn’t overly dynamic, the mix adds to the aura of the film by surrounding you a little more with this magical world. The mix serves the video very well.
As for extras, there are plenty of cute little games for the kids. You get games like Pooh’s Puzzles, Conect-The-Dots and Coloring Pages. Also included is perhaps the best reason to own the disc: a documentary called “When Pooh Was Very Young,” which details the whole story of how the young Christopher Robin’s teddy bear, Edgar, became Winnie the Pooh (including the encounter with “Winnie,” the bear in the London Zoo named after Winnipeg). You have the whole story, from the drawings and poems to Walt Disney’s Oscar-winning short film that started the modern Pooh explosion.
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