I think I remember my Mom telling me that my first movie was The Care Bears Movie, but the first movie I truly remember seeing was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. You know the one: actors dressed in rubber suits that ran around fighting ninjas in the heart of New York City. I remember being blown away. It had everything I could ever wish for as a young fan of cartoons and comics. Casey Jones was there with his arsenal of sports related weaponry; there was skateboarding, humor, dancing, and Raphael even said the D-word — I was blown away.
This last weekend, I took my daughter to see her first movie: Winnie the Pooh. We got dressed up (my daughter in a blue “Cinderella” dress with a necklace on loan from Belle from Beauty and the Beast) and headed out to the theater. Needless to say, she was excited… but I was too. There are certain moments as you develop your relationship with your children, monumental “firsts” that stand out as extraordinary, the weight of which can bring tears to your eyes. These moments can include first words, first steps, first ice-cream cones, first anything, really. To me, this was one of those moments: our first Father/Daughter trip to the movies!
Now, as you may have guessed from my daughter’s wardrobe, we love Disney movies. And while I prefer such adventurous romps as The Sword and the Stone, The Jungle Book and Peter Pan, my daughter (as I was warned would happen) is partial to the seemingly ever-present phenomenon that is the Disney Princess. Her favorites include Cinderella, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and Tiana from the Princess and the Frog. She loves these characters: their songbird voices, their dreamy, optimistic demeanors, and of course, their voluminous dresses and jewelry. But, as much as these icons of girlhood appeal to the dress-up, tea party part of her imagination, they can’t hold a candle to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
The reason for this might be as simple as age. My daughter is only three and (although obviously advanced in both maturity and intelligence) she still needs to cover her eyes during some of the scarier moments featuring sword-fights or step-sisters. Winnie the Pooh, on the other hand, seems to excite a different part of that childish imagination. One that is playful, innocent and downright cute.
My little girl and I have watched the original more times than I can count (so much so, I’m a little afraid she’ll end up thinking it really is spelled H-U-N-N-Y), so this new addition to the 100 Acre Wood had some big shoes to fill. And, although I can’t say that it was as magical as the original, it was definitely worth the price of admission. It was obvious that the creators had a deep reverence for the films that came before and the movie seemed to progress as an homage to the first. Each beat of the original was played out in a new way, all the way down to the trippy Heffalump scene, which was replaced by an equally eerie ditty about a dreaded “Backson”. The film kept the meta-textual references to the narrator and text, and used the letters on the page in some pretty clever ways. It should also be said that the movie does a great job capitalizing on some of the characters with smaller roles in the first movie — the real surprise star being the boisterous and aloof Owl, who manages to steal several scenes from many of the more popular characters.
But, unfortunately, the movie did have its faults, the largest being its soundtrack. This, more than anything, separated itself from the classic that inspired it. While the original was filled with timeless ditties sung primarily by Pooh himself, the new movie is filled with intrusive, poppy songs that sound entirely too modern. A few movies have been notably successful doing this same thing (my favorite being Curious George and the accompanying soundtrack by Jack Johnson), but the music here didn’t live up to the Disney standard I’ve grown accustomed to.
In the end, the movie was very funny and entertaining for all ages. It may have lacked some of the more heartfelt (and heartbreaking) nostalgia for childhood so apparent in the first, but the essence of frivolity and fun so entwined in the characters of Christopher Robin and his friends made Winnie the Pooh the perfect movie to call my daughter’s first. This may not be the first movie she remembers seeing, but, if she ever thinks to ask, I’m sure I’ll remember.