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.
Top Story: Mum's the Word on Nicole and Lenny's Romance
Nicole Kidman plans on keeping her romance with rocker Lenny Kravitz private. In an interview appearing in W magazine's December issue, The Associated Press reports the Oscar-winning actress says she learned a few things from her very public marriage to actor Tom Cruise. "I don't think I will ever put myself up for scrutiny, in terms of a personal relationship, ever again," she says. "It's too delicate, too ephemeral, too painful when it fails. So to have it on display terrifies me." Although she admits to being depressed after her divorce from Cruise in August 2001, Kidman seems to have found love again with Kravitz. "The idea of being able to give somebody something again, that's a nice thing," she said. "Being able to give a part of yourself again is a nice thing."
Rosie Mag Admits Losses
In the breach of contract suit between Rosie O'Donnell and Gruner + Jahr USA, the publisher of her now-defunct magazine Rosie, G+J chief financial officer Lawrence Diamond admitted Monday that his company reported false circulation figures to hide the magazine's losses, AP reports. Diamond said fudging the numbers enabled the magazine Rosie to keep running. "We did not want to shut down," Diamond testified under questioning by Matthew Fishbein, an O'Donnell lawyer. If the magazine lost more than $4.2 million in a fiscal year, O'Donnell would have been permitted to end her arrangement with G+J, AP reports.
Morrison Sued for Concert Cancellation
Veteran rocker Van Morrison was ordered by a British court to pay damages to a western England hotel for canceling a concert there last August, Reuters reports. The court heard testimony that Crown Hotel owner Gary Marlow had turned down "substantial offers" by Morrison to settle the case out of court but to no avail.
New Line Sets Up Rings Essay Contest
New Line Cinema will be generating a Lord of the Rings creative writing contest to a select group of high schools and middle schools in Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and New York in anticipation of the Dec. 17 release of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The contest asks children to write a 200-word essay on the theme of the wizard Gandalf's quote: "All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you." The deadline for submitting an essay is Friday, with New Line selecting one winner out of each group in December. Four grand-prize winners will receive promotional items from the film, along with a private screening for the student's friends and family, and the prizes for all schools that participate include a $10,000 grant per city applied to the purchase of new books for the school library, as well as a complete set of The Lord of the Rings book series donated by publisher Houghton Mifflin.
Danza Tries Hand at Daytime TV
Who's the Boss? star Tony Danza and Buena Vista Television are developing a new talk show for Danza to host that is aimed at female audiences, Reuters reports. The program does not yet have an airdate or a title, but according to Reuters, Buena Vista said it would sell the show in the syndication market.
Singer Donates Serious Cash to University
Singer Ray Charles has donated $1 million to Dillard University in New Orleans, La., so the school can create a black culture program, AP reports. The donation will create an endowed faculty position and program devoted to the musical, culinary, artistic and linguistic contributions of black Americans, Dillard spokeswoman Maureen Larkins told AP. The 73-year-old singer received an honorary degree in May from Dillard, a private, predominantly black school associated with the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ.
Williams Bids Adieu to CNBC
Brian Williams is leaving his anchor position at CNBC in January, Reuters reports, and will take over from Tom Brokaw at NBC Nightly News after the 2004 presidential election. In the down time between jobs, Williams is expected to contribute as a reporter for NBC, as well as fill in for Brokaw when necessary. "We are heading into an incredibly busy news cycle in 2004 with the primary season, the conventions, the Olympics and the elections," NBC News president Neal Shapiro said in a statement. "With the transition at Nightly on the horizon, it's more important than ever that Brian is able to turn his full attention to the network for the coverage of these stories."
Spike TV To Host Video Game Awards
Spike TV will play host to the inaugural Video Game Awards show in Las Vegas next month, hosted by actor-comedian David Spade, AP reports. "The VGAs celebrate those games that have blistered our fingers poised on the joystick and kept us up all night," Albie Hecht, president of Spike TV, said in a statement Monday. "We're throwing out all the boring and stagnant elements of traditional awards shows and focusing on what matters--the characters, game play, animation, music and performances that have made an impact on the video game community throughout the past year." The show will premiere on the "first network for men" on Dec. 4. Gaming industry experts, public opinion via Spike TV's Web site and the network's editorial board will determine the winners, AP reports.