'Winnie the Pooh'
Directors: Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall
Starring: Jim Cummings, John Cleese, Craig Ferguson
Common Sense Media rating: On for 3+
Moviefone Mama Says: At just over an hour, this return to the Hundred Acre Wood is an adorable chronicle of our favorite chubby bear's adventures –- searching for Eeyore's tail, scheming with his pals Piglet, Owl, Tigger, Rabbit, Kanga and Roo, and, of course, foraging for that sweetest of all treats, honey. The musical numbers don't overwhelm, and the two-pronged plot (first the pals look for a replacement tail, then they try to capture the elusive "Backson," a monster that has allegedly kidnapped Christopher Robin) is engaging enough to keep even the littlest ones rapt and their parents happy.
Did You Know?: The lovely songstress Zooey Deschanel, best known for her beguiling performances in '(500) Days of Summer,' 'Elf' and 'The Bridge to Terabithia,' performs two sugary-sweet songs for the 'Pooh' soundtrack.
Parent Concerns: None, although the "Backson" musical sequence, where Owl describes all of the monster 's crimes, could possibly upset sensitive preschoolers.
Here are three talking points to extend your moviegoing experience.
1. Friends First: All of the silly shenanigans aside, what are the lessons of this story? It's a great example of unconditional friendship and teamwork. Instead of letting Eeyore stew in his melancholy, his friends rally to find him another tail. They also band together to help Christopher Robin, whom they believe is in peril. They're not all brilliant minds (even brainy Owl can't seem to remember he can fly at one point), but they're kind, generous and selfless (what greater sacrifice can Pooh make then to put off eating honey?).
2. Fun With Letters: Like in A.A. Milne's books, the characters on screen can see the words of their story and even talk straight to the narrator. How do the words and letters become supporting characters in the movie? If the breaking of the fourth wall is confusing for your children, it's a perfect time to explain the concept of a narrator who speaks but isn't seen on camera. Be warned -- toddlers will probably ask "Who's talking?" more than once during the movie.
3. Read It & See It: Movies based on books are a perfect way to do a study of what's better – the page or screen versions. Read (or, more likely, re-read) some of the early Pooh tales and ask your kids which they prefer, the story and characters as written or as depicted in the movie. You can also watch the previous Pooh films and compare them with the latest adaptation.
Three to See: Disney Animal Classics
1. '101 Dalmatians': Dogs come together to save the day in this canine adventure featuring of my favorite Disney villains: the greedy Cruella de Vil.
2. 'Bambi': Still considered one of Disney's animated masterpieces, this story of the forest's orphaned prince is touching and beautifully drawn.
3. 'Dumbo': Another short-and-sweet animal adventure that will delight young viewers, despite the trippy "Pink Elephants on Parade" and controversial crows.