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.
Whitney Houston played an imaginary piano, bragged about how a "Jew guy" made her bracelet, requested a serving of Skippy peanut butter (smooth -- not chunky) and compared hanging with a junkie to hanging with a president during an interview for an upcoming magazine profile. Whitney Houston, left, with husband Bobby Brown The disclosures from Jane magazine come a day after the singer's camp tried to shoot down reports that she'd been canned from Sunday's Oscars telecast because she kept flubbing her routine in rehearsals. (According to Houston, she chose to sit out the show due to a sore throat.)
In the Jane interview, to be featured in the mag's May issue, Houston thoroughly discombobulates interviewer Tony Romando with, well, this kinda stuff:
Houston comparing a junkie and a head of state. "The president gets off on the country," Houston told the mag. "The junkie gets off on a couple of hits. They're the same, both cut from the same cloth, they're just men, you dig?"
Houston showing up four hours late for the scheduled chat and then appearing, in the words of Romando, "extremely unfocused." She "had trouble keeping her eyes open and kept singing and playing an imaginary piano on the table. I guess laughing gas can do that to you." (Houston had told him she'd just come from the dentist.)
Houston talking about her management approach. "[My employees] gotta know what happened to me the day before and the day before that. My stress builds up. … Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Boom! Thursday, Friday -- it hits me. I fired someone not too long ago." (No, Romando didn't know what she was talking about, either.)
Houston talking up her gold and diamond bracelet as manufactured by that "Jew guy on Diamond Row in New York."
Houston confessing that, yes, she does wear a wig because her "hair is very fine and very thin. ... I don't want to be bald when I'm 60."
Houston denying that she and Mariah Carey are rivals. Says Houston: "She calls me Lamb, I call her Chop. … It's an endearing thing."
One coda on the Houston interview: According to Jane, the diva's camp requested the following refreshments be at the star's disposal: water (Deer Park), tea (cinnamon and Earl Grey), honey, fruit juices, soda pop (Classic Coke, Canada Dry Ginger Ale), Snapple, Ocean Spray Cranapple juice, blue corn chips, salsa, fruit (not sliced, and served at room temperature), cheese, crackers, jelly, Skippy peanut butter (smooth, not chunky), bread (whole wheat and white), Popeye's chicken, "dirty rice" (also from Popeye's), beans and rice (also from Popeye's), corn rolls (from, yes, Popeye's), peanut butter cups, Butterfingers, Raisinettes and Gummy Bears. And, oh, yeah, she wanted enough to "accommodate 4-5 people."
Respondeth Jane: "We love that she eats, but Whit, we're not a freakin' supermarket."
Bobby Earl is the pride of his working-class family when he is the first to go to college. He is recruited into a popular fraternity where Tom, a charming classmate, befriends him. Tom falls for a wealthy older woman, Chelsea, who finds jobs for both boys at her business. After graduation Tom and Chelsea, who has seduced the boys with her luxurious lifestyle, try to get Bobby to burn down Chelsea's store for the insurance money. Bobby returns home with a guilty conscience and confesses to his mother, who convinces him to turn himself in to the police. Just as he is beginning to turn his life around, he mysteriously disappears while awaiting sentencing. Based on a true story.