Film Review: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977)

Release Date: March 11th, 1977
Directed by: John Lounsbery, Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Vance Gerry, Xavier Atencio, Ken Anderson, Julius Svendsen, Ted Berman, Eric Cleworth
Based on: Winnie-the-Pooh by A. A. Milne
Music by: Richard M. Sherman, Robert B. Sherman (songs), Buddy Baker (score)
Cast: Sterling Holloway, John Fiedler, Junius Matthews, Paul Winchell, Howard Morris, Bruce Reitherman, Jon Walmsley, Timothy Turner, Clint Howard, Sebastian Cabot (narrator)

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Productions, Buena Vista Distribution, 74 Minutes

Review:

“It’s not much of a tail, but I’m sort of attached to it.” – Eeyore

It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen this animated Disney classic but I loved it as a kid and I think it still plays exceptionally well.

The story is narrated by the great Sebastian Cabot and it features a bunch of small tales set in the world of Winnie the Pooh. So this is more of an anthology featuring the same core characters than it is a feature length story.

The animation is smooth and dreamlike and I still think that this is the best adaptation of the written material and the quintessential Winnie the Pooh film to introduce to kids that might like the character and his world.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh also features a pretty stellar voice cast that brings these characters to life in a remarkable and memorable way. Sterling Holloway, especially, achieved legendary status with his performance, here, as he gave the world the voice and personality that we would forever associate with Pooh.

I also didn’t know until now that Clint Howard provided his voice for Roo, the little kangaroo character. That, in its own way, adds another layer of coolness to the picture.

Rating: 7.75/10

Film Review: Robin Hood (1973)

Release Date: November 8th, 1973
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, Frank Thomas, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, David Michener
Based on: the legend of Robin Hood
Music by: George Bruns
Cast: Peter Ustinov, Phil Harris, Brian Bedford, Terry-Thomas, Roger Miller, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey, Andy Devine

Walt Disney Productions, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Buena Vista Distribution, 83 Minutes

Review:

“Oh, Robin, you’re so brave and impetuous!” – Marian

When I was a kid, this was, hands down, one of my favorite Disney animated films. It still is, actually, because upon viewing it this time, the first in years, I was pulled right into it and captivated by it from start-to-finish.

I think I just really love these interpretations of the legendary characters and I always loved that they used animals, as opposed to humans. In a way, it made it unique and helped it stand out amongst all the other Robin Hood pictures that were made before it… and after it, for that matter.

The opening song and credits really sets the mood and makes you feel pretty laid back. Ultimately, this is a laid back picture and even though it has some good action sequences, it’s still just kind of a chill movie.

It’s also playful and I think that it was a really good thing that they brought back Phil Harris, who played Baloo in The Jungle Book, to play a very similar looking bear in the role of Little John. Baloo’s look and voice are very distinctive and Little John just feels like that fun-loving character we all know and adore.

This also features a lot of characters but you’re not overwhelmed by them and most of them get their own moment to shine. It’s just a cool ensemble cast of various animals and personalities but it meshes together incredibly well.

I also like the art style of the film. It employs the same style as the films from One Hundred and One Dalmatians forward but also looks more crisp and refined. The motion of the characters is very fluid and it’s just impressive all around.

While everyone should already know the general story of Robin Hood, all the little unique flourishes in this one are really creative and well-executed. At the end of the day, this stays true to the legend but is also very specifically Disney.

Robin Hood is a pretty stupendous animated feature and in my opinion, still one of Disney’s top animated films.

Rating: 9/10

TV Review: Only Murders In the Building (2021- )

Original Run: August 31st, 2021 – current
Created by: Steve Martin, John Hoffman
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Siddhartha Khosla
Cast: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Aaron Dominguez, Amy Ryan, Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Sting, Jane Lynch

Rhode Island Ave. Productions, Another Hoffman Story Productions, 40 Share Productions, 20th Television, Disney Platform Distribution, Hulu, 10 Episodes (so far), 26-35 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

When I first saw the trailer for this, I was pretty excited about checking it out. I love Steve Martin and Martin Short, especially together, and from what I’ve seen of Selena Gomez, I’ve been impressed simply because I only really know of her as an ex-Disney child star and a pop artist.

These three come together wonderfully well, though. Martin and Short being paired up was a no-brainer but adding Gomez to the mix was an x-factor. She did a superb job and I really like this trio and hope to see more from them in season two and hopefully beyond. Hell, round up Chevy Chase and go make a Four Amigos movie.

I thought that the murder mystery plot here was well-crafted and had a good amount of layers and twists like a classic film-noir. I can’t quite consider this noir, tonally, but it is very much inspired by some of the great noir works of yesteryear.

The show is well paced, well acted, has characters you’ll love and gets right down to business from the get go. There aren’t any filler episodes and things move briskly, not wasting time on anything unimportant. Even when a character pops up and it feels like some sort of distraction or the show is getting lost on itself, there is always a reason behind it that helps with the overall payoff.

I like the simple visual style of the show but it could’ve probably used a bit more panache. However, things are overproduced these days, to the point of everything being generic and milquetoast. Luckily, there was enough passion behind this project and within its stars, that it stands out.

My only negative was that I knew who the real killer was almost immediately. Granted, that’s not a bad thing, as the story still surprised me.

All in all, not a bad effort and I hope the second season just adds more to this pretty solid foundation. I feel like it’s a show that can actually improve. It was searching for its footing in the early episodes but found it rather quickly.

Rating: 7.5/10

Film Review: The Aristocats (1970)

Also known as: The AristoCats (alternative spelling)
Release Date: December 11th, 1970 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Ken Anderson, Larry Clemmons, Eric Cleworth, Vance Gerry, Julius Svendsen, Frank Thomas, Ralph Wright
Based on: The Aristocats by Tom McGowan, Tom Rowe
Music by: George Bruns
Cast: Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers, Paul Winchell, Lord Tim Hudson, Thurl Ravenscroft, Dean Clark, Liz English, Gary Dubin

Walt Disney Productions, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Buena Vista Distribution, 78 Minutes

Review:

“Ladies don’t start fights, but they can finish them!” – Marie

Well, The Aristocats was a lot more fun and lively than I remembered. This is a classic Disney animated feature film that I hadn’t actually seen since childhood.

The story is about a rich lady that loves her cats. She decides to leave everything to her cats in her will with the butler getting everything after the last cat has passed on. Once her butler discovers this, he decides to get rid of the cats, so he can obtain the woman’s inheritance upon her death.

I forgot how cool of a character the cat, Thomas O’Malley, was. After revisiting this, he may be one of my favorite protagonists from animated Disney movies. He’s just a pretty suave, romantic and heroic character that meets Duchess and her kittens, once they’ve been dumped way out in the country. He helps them on their adventure back home and along the way, becomes the surrogate father figure to this family. He also introduces them to his other feral cat friends who are pretty awesome jazz musicians.

Out of all the animal-centric Disney movies, this one is the most entertaining, overall. It’s also heartwarming and sweet. There really isn’t a character that you won’t love, except for the villainous, greedy butler. However, he gets what he deserves in the end.

Rating: 7.25/10

Film Review: The Jungle Book (1967)

Release Date: October 18th, 1967
Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman
Written by: Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry
Based on: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Music by: George Bruns
Cast: Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders, Sterling Holloway, John Abbott, Louis Prima, Bruce Reitherman, Clint Howard

Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Productions, 78 Minutes

Review:

“What do they call you?” – Baloo, “His name is Mowgli, and I’m taking him back to the man village.” – Bagheera, “Man village? They’ll ruin him. They’ll make a man out of him.” – Baloo, 

While I always liked The Jungle Book it wasn’t one of the films that popped into my head when thinking of Disney’s greatest classic animated features. However, seeing it this time, the first in a few decades, gave me a new appreciation for it, as seeing it through the eyes of an adult made it a richer experience.

The reason for that, is that even though I can relate to Mowgli, I have more appreciation for Bagheera’s point-of-view and also have grown away from my more care-free ways that Baloo exhibits. Well, until Baloo has to ultimately let the kid move on and live his life.

The magic of this film is that it can connect to anyone through the youthful Mowgli but it has the ability to speak to the adults watching it in a way that the kids also probably understand but can’t fully connect to until they’ve actually experienced more in life.

Also, this is just such a fun and jovial movie that its music really stands out for this era of Disney pictures.

I also like the art style and the lush colors and environment.

It reminds me a lot of the film before it, The Sword In the Stone, in how this plays more like two friends going on random adventures where the main plot is just kind of secondary. Except, this does that better and overall, provides a more memorable and emotional bond.

The Jungle Book is simply great. It’s a positive, fun, coming of age story that has some of the best tunes in the history of Disney films.

Rating: 8/10

Documentary Review: Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009)

Also known as: Persistence of Vision (working title)
Release Date: September 5th, 2009 (Telluride Film Festival)
Directed by: Don Hahn
Written by: Patrick Pacheco
Music by: Chris P. Bacon
Cast: Don Hahn (narrator), Roy E. Disney, Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Randy Cartwright, Howard Ashman, various

Red Shoes, Stone Circle Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 86 Minutes

Review:

“People always talked about Roy as the idiot nephew. That was his nickname. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was smart, unassuming and powerful. You could easily underestimate him, but you did so at your own peril.” – Peter Schneider

If you like old school Disney stuff, there are a lot of documentaries about old school Disney stuff on Disney+. Honestly, it’s the only reason I’m currently subscribed other than having access to the classic movies I also love. I barely care about Star Wars or the MCU, at this point.

Anyway, this is one of those documentaries.

Waking Sleeping Beauty is the story of how the backbone of Disney, it’s animated feature films division, was suffering by the mid-’80s and how several creatives came in and turned it all around with what’s now referred to as their “renaissance”.

This is a compelling story and for fans of classic Disney animation, this is certainly worth watching. It features interviews with lots of people who were there and who understood the structure and politics of the company at the time.

My only real gripe about the documentary is that it never felt focused enough on the important topics and it jumped around quite a bit, as it tried to cover a lot of films and their whole creation process in a documentary that was less than 90 minutes. However, Disney+ could easily expand on all of this, as they already have several documentary shows that spend full hours on specific topics from their past.

Still, this held my attention from start-to-finish and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I just wish a lot of it was expanded on and fleshed out more because it was all so interesting. It just felt rushed through at times.

Rating: 7.25/10