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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // G // June 19, 2007
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Jamie S. Rich | posted June 16, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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THE MOVIE:

For the Winnie the Pooh fans out there who have been waiting to hear if Disney's latest reissue of the DVD of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh would be of sufficient upgrade to require a double-dip to replace 2002's 25th Anniversary Edition, the quick answer is no. Go ahead and sit tight on your old DVD.

The long and short of it is, this new The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition is almost exactly the same as the original DVD release, which I guess went out of print at some point in the last five years. Being a big Pooh aficionado, I still had the 25th Anniversary Edition in my possession, and I was able to sync up my two DVD players and have them run at the same time. Randomly during the program, I'd switch from the Friendship Edition over to the 2002 disc. From what I could see, the transfer is exactly the same. The box specs certainly support this assumption: 1.33:1 theatrical aspect ratio and a 5.1 Dolby Digital surround mix. Here is a DVD that Disney got right the first time, so apparently no need to mess with success.

Which isn't to say that you were wrong to expect something more. They studio has been going back into the "vaults" to redo many an old favorite, reissuing them as special edition DVD packages. In these cases, even if they don't give the movie a whole new transfer, they add on a bunch of extras we didn't get the first time around. Once again, however, this is not the case on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition. Outside of giving us more contemporary trailers, the only bonus feature that has been added is an episode of the new preschool-aimed television show, "My Friends Tigger & Pooh." Everything else is a carryover from last time.

Not that I'm necessarily complaining. Like I said, they got it right with the 25th Anniversary Edition, and I'm sure many of you out there are glad you don't have to go through the rigmarole of replacing yet another Disney DVD. If, on the other hand, you never got your hands on the original issue, this re-release will serve to fill that hole in your collection.

And really, who doesn't want Winnie the Pooh in their video library? This 1977 feature compilation brings together three classic Disney shorts adapting stories from the book by A.A. Milne. They maintain all the original charm and flair of the old book, presenting an imaginary playworld that is really society in microcosm. The various characters who occupy the 100 Acre Wood represent all manner of personality types, from the timid and worried Piglet through the everyman of Pooh all the way to the irrepressible Tigger. Their adventures are full of invention and childlike wonder, really being the representation of the playtime activities of the book's only human character, the young boy Christopher Robin. These animals are really his toys, and the Disney animators keep that as part of their aesthetic, replicating the anatomy of stuffed animals even as they give them life.

The way the Disney team maintained the feeling of a storybook world is really the thing that sets The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh apart from their many other cartoon adaptations of children's literature. From the use of a narrator (voiced by Sebastian Cabot) to the physical reproductions of the pages of the book, pulling the camera back to show us the words of the tale and the animals walking through them, the Pooh 'toons are a post-modern delight if you're an older smarty pants like me, and a dazzling burst of magic to the younger viewers among us, who couldn't care less about narrative theory. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition is clever fun, and it hasn't aged a bit over the decades.

THE DVD

Video:
As I mentioned in the body of my review, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition has a full-frame picture, maintaining it's original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The picture is very clean, with only one noticeable point where there was some dirt on the image coming near the tail end of the film, when Rabbit is holding his protest meeting to curb Tigger's bouncing. The colors are all very nice, and the detail sharp.

Sound:
The original English audio is mixed in 5.1 and it sounds great. These cartoons have very distinct vocal performances, particularly from Sterling Holloway as Pooh and Paul Winchell as Tigger. We don't want to miss a single syllable, and Disney makes sure we don't. The music also sounds excellent, as do the many bees.

French and Spanish soundtracks are also available.

Extras:
Again, check the main review for a little more info on the bonus features for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition. Outside of a promo episode of the new "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" children's series, all of the extras on this DVD are hold-overs from the 2002 25th Anniversary Edition. They are as follows:

* "The Story Behind the Masterpiece," a documentary about the history of the stories and how they came to be developed into animation. Lots of interviews with folks involved, including some of the Nine Old Men, songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman, and the voice of Tigger, Paul Winchell, among others. There is also a neat step-by-step recreation of the various stages of animating Tigger's big musical entrance. The whole show runs about 25 minutes.
* Winnie the Pooh Art Gallery: an awesome extra collecting an extensive amount of production materials that you can either navigate by hand or have run as a video slideshow. It even includes photos of Pooh-related theme park attractions.
* A bonus short, "A Day for Eeyore," from 1983. In this 25-minute cartoon, the gang goes to great lengths to throw the sad donkey a birthday party. It's also the cartoon in which everyone plays Pooh Sticks! Some of the voices are noticeably different, and the animation doesn't have the same quality of line that the vintage shorts had, but it's still a worthwhile addition to the series, probably the last good Pooh 'toon the studio made.
* Pooh's Pop-Up Fun Facts: an option to see trivia during your viewing of the main feature.
* Sing Along Song "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers."
* Carly Simon performing the Winnie the Pooh theme (because kids these days just love their Carly Simon).
* A game and an interactive story for younger children.

The DVD comes in a standard plastic case, with an outer cardboard sleeve with the same artwork that is printed on the inside cover. A one-sheet chapter insert/bonus features guide is in the case, the back of which serves as an advertisement for other Disney product.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Highly Recommended. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh - The Friendship Edition may be a straight-up reissue of the original Disney DVD, but no matter how you present it, Pooh is Pooh and is always good. While owners of the old disc can sit tight, this is the kind of perennial item that no one should be without and should never be allowed to go out of print. So, now that this injustice has been fixed, take full advantage and make sure these marvelous cartoons don't get by you again.

Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Joelle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent projects include the futuristic romance A Boy and a Girl with Natalie Nourigat; Archer Coe and the Thousand Natural Shocks, a loopy crime tale drawn by Dan Christensen; and the horror miniseries Madame Frankenstein, a collaboration with Megan Levens. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.

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