Winnie the Pooh is one of those weird Disney properties that I never really found that interesting as a kid. All the other movies that I’ve looked at so far held some bit of interest, but having never been a real Pooh fan, I debated for a while actually looking at this movie in the first place.
Of course, after watching it I’m glad I did, because my recent viewing of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh revealed one very important thing that’s often overlooked.
Pooh and his friends are a bunch of jerks.
Let’s look at the evidence.
In the first short, “Winnie the Pooh and the Hunny Tree,” (this movie is actually an anthology of three earlier short films that Disney released featuring the Pooh characters), we meet Pooh and learn that he has a rather insatiable appetite for all things sweet, particularly honey. Pooh’s appetite is so great, in fact, that when he stops by to say hello to Rabbit, who is just sitting down to lunch and too polite to tell Pooh no when he asks if he may join him, he ends up eating all of the honey in Rabbit’s pantry (for whatever reason, Rabbit keeps several large pots of honey). Pooh eats so much that he becomes stuck when trying to leave, and Rabbit is forced to spend several days waiting for Pooh to shed the extra weight so that he will be able to squeeze out of the front door. Pooh, being pleasantly dim, takes all of this in stride.
I’m not sure what the point of this story is; considering that the source material is a series of children’s books, I would expect some kind of moral, but I can’t identify anything of the sort. Pooh’s friends help him out of his literal jam, but he never reflects on the experience or acknowledges that he might have been really greedy in the way he took advantage of Rabbit’s hospitality. The entire episode’s kind of a nonevent where everyone just gives Pooh a pass for his bad behavior.
Of course, Pooh’s not the only jerk in the Hundred Acre Wood. I really sympathize with Rabbit, since he strikes me as the poor neighbor who’s always getting inconvenienced by everyone else, but he’s even more of a jerk than everyone else. When Tigger’s bounciness inadvertently destroys his vegetable garden, Rabbit hatches a plan to take Tigger deep into the woods and abandon him.
So where Pooh has incredibly poor manners, Rabbit’s willing to leave his friends to die when they inconvenience him (y’know, for kids!). When the plot inevitably fails, Rabbit doesn’t even display any remorse that he tried to lose Tigger. Of course, Rabbit’s sociopathic obsession with stopping Tigger’s bouncing doesn’t end there, as he uses a later incident where Tigger gets stuck in a tree as a chance to coerce him into giving up bouncing altogether in exchange for help getting down. Once Tigger’s safely back on the ground, Rabbit is the only one who’s serious about holding Tigger to the no bouncing rule; it takes the peer pressure of every other inhabitant of the Hundred Acre Wood to get him to give in.
Besides the weirdly anti-social characters, the movie is highly engaging. I honestly found the Pooh stories more entertaining now that I can see just how screwed up the characters are.
Also, Eeyore might be my spirit animal.