The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh opens in the real-life room of a young boy named Christopher Robin which provides the context in delineating between that which is real and the cartoon world that follows. In understanding this “wonderful world of make believe” that Christopher Robin has created for himself and his stuffed friends, it's revealing in considering its dissimilarities with that of the Toy Story series. Sure, both feature a collection of seemingly living and breathing toys... or do they? Woody, Buzz and their pals are alive – they act both completely independent of and in conjunction with their owner, Andy, while also having absolute awareness of the world they live in and the fact that they are just toys. Meanwhile, Pooh and his buddies' adventures only exist in the mind and heart of Christopher Robin. Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit etc. - as different and quirky as they all are - they are also ALL Christopher Robin as his various fears, anxieties and insecurities are creeping into his “friends” lives and personalities. What exactly is going on in this kid's life that's making him such a nervous Nellie?
There's no reason to ignore the answer to the aforementioned question: Christopher Robin is leaving his home and the Hunded-Acre Wood to begin his schooling – most likely of the boarding variety. Knowing this, he seems to be acting out these “unusual adventures” with his toys as a way of dealing with this impending change. Most specifically, it's with his best friend, Winnie-the-Pooh, that he seems to channel most of his fears. Much like a young child, Pooh's life revolves around food. What happens when Christopher Robin leaves his home life? When will he eat? What will he eat? Where will his food come from? Will he have to get it himself? What if he's hungry? These questions are precisely what Pooh faces one morning when he wakes up to find his cupboards bare. Pooh is hungry and is subsequently forced to climb a honey tree where he has to fight off some angry bees just to get a smackerel of honey. Then, once he finally gets his paws on some honey at Rabbit's house, he eats well past the point of satiation as if he doesn't know when or if he'll ever have another meal. His gluttony results in Pooh becoming so rotund that, while trying to leave through Rabbit's hole, he becomes stuck for days-on-end. It's almost as if he didn't even want to leave – I mean, why leave a place that has food so abundant and readily available... #AMIRITE???
Christopher Robin also seems to have a lot of anxieties built around the physical idea of a home. Of course, there's the running gag of the perpetually gloomy Eeyore having to rebuild his home after constantly getting destroyed but there's also the permanent tragedy of Owl's treehouse blowing right over and crashing down during a particularly blustery day. It's also during that same storm that both Pooh and Piglet's respective homes flood. Then, after the water levels subside, Eeyore inexplicably offers up Piglet's “grand home in the beech tree (which he loved very much and had been in the family since his grandparents lived there) to the homeless Owl. Piglet would tearfully, yet graciously, bequeath his home to his good friend (although, they apparently weren't close enough for Owl to know that the house had already belonged to Piglet since forever ago). In Rabbit, we also witness some very adult home concerns. With both Pooh and Tigger, Rabbit suffers the discomfort and indignity of the unwanted and unruly houseguest. While Pooh shows up unannounced, eats Rabbit out of house and home and decidedly overstays his welcome (albeit because he can't leave) Tigger's raucous and reckless bouncing completely ruins Rabbit's “beautiful garden.” With all the issues his pals have with their homes, one might even call Christopher Robin's preoccupation with losing his home an obsession.
In more general terms, Christopher Robin also shows a healthy fear for nightmares in Pooh getting lost with Rabbit and heights through Tigger. But it's with food and leaving home that seem to wear on his pre-schooling mind the most. While saying his good-byes to Pooh, Christopher Robin admits to him that what he likes best is “just doing nothing.” He reveals that doing nothing is his escape from grown-ups' questions and that he won't be able to do just nothing anymore once he goes away to school. He then asks Pooh to come back to their spot once he's gone, alone, and do just nothing as a way to not forget him. Christopher Robin knows that his life is changing and is creating a sanctuary in that “enchanted little part of the forest” for his childhood to live on, even when it's inevitably gone. It's no wonder that the two characters who don't seem to have any issues are Kanga and Roo – because you'll never be happier than when your baby is at home or when you are in your mother's pouch. Oh, there's also Gopher, but I'm not quite ready to dig that deep...
On a more whimsical note...
This movie is actually a collection of three previously aired featurettes: (Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974). New material was added to more seamlessly link the shorts for the full-length feature version.
This proved to be a study in great restraint as I eschewed the countless opportunities for fecal related puns.
Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga and Roo are all clearly drawn as toys and also exist as such in Christopher Robin's room. Owl also exists as a toy in his room but is drawn like a real owl. Then, Rabbit and Gopher are drawn as real animals so it begs the question: are Rabbit and Gopher stuffed or real animals?
The sign on Pooh's house reads “Mr. Sanders” while Piglet's says “Trespassers Will” which we learn is short for his grandfather's name “Trespassers William.”
Pooh is stuffed with fluff while Eeyore is filled with sawdust.
All of the characters have American accents while Christopher Robin is British.
Pooh has a picture of a bee on his wall, Owl a picture of himself and Piglet a picture of Pooh – it's all the things they love most I'm guessing.
Say what you want about Rabbit and all of his fussiness; he definitely keeps it real. Pooh blames “small doors” for his getting stuck while Rabbit calls it like it is: “overeating.” #REALTALK
If you recognize Pooh's voice it's because it was done by one of the most prolific Disney voice actors of all time. Sterling Holloway lent his vocal talents to such a wide range of characters as the Stork in Dumbo (1942), adult Flower in Bambi (1944), the Narrator in Peter and the Wolf (1946), the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (1951), Kaa in The Jungle Book (1967) and Roquefort in The AristoCats (1970).
Although not as prolific, Piglet's voice was done by John Fiedler who I only know from Twelve Angry Men. It's just funny to hear that wimpy voice coming out of a full grown man. And, just like with Sterling Holloway – IT'S HIS REAL, EVERYDAY VOICE!
“TTFN: TA TA FOR NOW!”