The popular characters of the Hundred Acre Wood are inviting home viewers to join them once again as Disney’s recent “Winnie the Pooh” makes its way to Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow. The hand-drawn animated tale unites Pooh bear, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, and other favorites together in a combination of new and familiar adventures in this simple but sweet film.
My thoughts on the film have not changed since it was first released to theaters in July. At 63 minutes long, the film gives viewers just enough of a taste of the world surrounding its title character, with clever writing, a blend of classic and modern visuals, and slow-but-steady pacing that keeps the story interesting throughout.
On Blu-ray, “Winnie the Pooh” looks almost perfect in high definition. The overall muted color palette that is synonymous with the Pooh series is reproduced flawlessly on the release, from the watercolor backgrounds to the greys of Eeyore and oranges of Tigger. Set apart from the desaturated world are the shiny red balloon and glimmering honey, both of which pop in HD. The only noticeable negative is in wide shots, where the thick black character outlines suffer occasionally from a slight case of the “jaggies,” remedied in medium and close shots.
For a relatively simple film, audio plays a crucial role, presented subtly in surround sound. While there are no major effects in the rear and side channels, music often envelops the viewer, whether it’s the film’s score or Zooey Deschanel’s warm vocals over jazzy tunes. The crisp audio and visuals help to modernize this return to the Winnie the Pooh of old.
This release of “Winnie the Pooh” should be picked up only for the film itself, as bonus features leave much to be desired. Missing is a true “making-of” featurette, leaving out any behind the scenes look at the animation, voice acting, or song recording sessions. Instead, the Blu-ray exclusive “Winnie the Pooh and His Story Too” offers a brief look at the history of Pooh, beginning with A.A. Milne’s creation decades ago and likening the popularity of Pooh bear to that of Mickey Mouse. But the short extra glosses over much of the detail and feels more like a quick history summary.
The 5 included deleted or extended scenes are entertaining and left me wondering why they were cut in the first place. Director introductions say they were chopped for “time” or “pacing” issues, but with the film having only a 63-minute runtime, it could have benefitted from a few more amusing moments like those presented on this release.
Two shorts are included, “The Ballad of Nessie,” which was shown before the theatrical presentation of the film, and “The Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Pooh’s Balloon,” which is a cute new short featuring (what else?) Pooh bear getting into trouble on his quest for honey.
The Blu-ray release also included a “sing along” option, displaying large bold words with a bouncing red balloon to follow along during the movie. It’s particularly useful during the fast-paced “Backson” song to help catch all the clever lyrics.
Finally, “Creating the Perfect Winnie the Pooh Nursery” is a throwaway feature, with two stereotypical mom types offering their tips on how to create a baby’s room with a Pooh theme.
“Winnie the Pooh” is Disney’s second hand-drawn animated film in years, following “The Princess and the Frog,” and while neither were monumental box office successes, both are entertaining for all the right reasons. And despite lacking bonus features, the new Blu-ray / DVD release of “Winnie the Pooh” should find a place in any Disney fan‘s film collection, not only as an enjoyable movie but also to mark this place in Disney filmmaking history, where story, character, and artwork once again triumph over commercial appeal.
You can order the “Winnie the Pooh” two-disc Blu-ray / DVD combo pack on Amazon.