At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Jim Carrey and Jake Gyllenhaal will show their pinstripes for New Line’s adaptation of Damn Yankees.
Both actors are attached to star in a contemporary transfer of the classic musical with Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel on script duty. The musical is being produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, the duo behind New Line's Hairspray.
Damn Yankees centers on Joe Boyd, a happily married man who makes a deal with the devil to help save his favorite ball team.
In exchange for his soul, he's transformed into slugger Joe Hardy. He can break the deal but as fate and the devil would have it, the deadline falls during the World Series.
Carrey would play the devil, and Gyllenhaal would play Boyd.
Five years ago, reports Variety, another proposed version of Damn Yankees struck out at Miramax.
Lola, engaged by the devil to tempt Joe, won’t be cast until the script is turned in. Meetings with directors will also wait.
The original was directed by George Abbott and choreographed by Bob Fosse, with music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, and book by Abbott and Douglass Wallop.
Damn Yankees was also turned into a 1958 Warner Bros. film that was directed by Abbott and Stanley Donen, with Ray Walston and Gwen Verdon re-creating their stage performances. Tab Hunter played the slugger.
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