Back when I was a kid, we used to have the segments of this movie recorded from the TV, but until now, I've never seen this as a movie (although, of course, I knew it existed). These three segments would show up separately from time to time as part of Sunday's 'Wonderful World of Disney'. The movie used the three famous shorts to piece itself together, with a bit of new material to bridge the gap. This brings us back around to yet another anthology movie; the last one reviewed being 1949's 'Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad'. But this might be the most charming of them all.
All segments are based on the classic children's stories by author A.A. Milne, and portray a young Christopher Robin (Bruce Reitherman/Jon Walmsley/Timothy Turner) and his stuffed animal friends, brought to life by his imagination; Eeyore the Donkey (Ralph Wright), Kanga (Barbara Luddy) and her son Roo (Clint Howard/Dori Whitaker), Rabbit (Junius Matthews), Piglet (John Fiedler), Owl (Hal Smith) and of course, a teddy bear named Winnie the Pooh (Sterling Holloway). Each of the three segments involves Christopher Robin and friends helping other friends with their problems, and that's basically all there is to it. These are nice, mild children's stories that might have a little lesson or two, but nothing so extreme as what a company like Pixar might bring to the table.
Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966): Perhaps most famous among the 'Pooh' stories, this one involves Pooh's insatiable appetite for honey. He really just wants to get up a honey tree and get at the honey the bees are working hard on making. After a failed attempt, he invites himself to Rabbit's house for lunch, where he eats all of Rabbit's honey, and becomes a bit too fat to fit back out the door, getting himself stuck. Of course, this would go on to become one of the first images that comes to mind when you think of 'Winnie the Pooh'. Eventually Christopher Robin and the gang have to try to get him out of there, but he's got to go a few days to slim down first. My childhood takeaway from this was always about eating too much, only to find yourself in some sort of trouble. It also has that karmic factor as he eats all of Rabbit's honey but then gets himself stuck because of it.
Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968): This one was always my personal favourite when I was a kid, largely because it's almost a Halloween segment. It's unofficial, but you get the sense that it's Fall, there's bad weather, and just some creepy stuff happening throughout. There's two things going on here; one involves Pooh and Piglet and how they deal with some of the troubles of what the blustery day brings with it. This includes the introduction of Tigger (Paul Winchell). Meanwhile, Eeyore searches for a new house for Owl, since his blew over in the wind. We also get introduced to the concept of "heffalumps and woozles" (elephants and weasels, as pronounced by Tigger); animals who really covet honey, which adds to Pooh's unease. They even have their own song as part of a dream sequence, right up there with 'Elephants on Parade'.
Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974): This one focuses primarily on Tigger, and sort of involves two stories in one. First up, we have Tigger bounce through Rabbit's garden, destroying it. This leads Rabbit to rally Pooh and Piglet to try to take to bounce out of Tigger. In the first attempt, they bring Tigger out to the woods and try to lose him. They end up lost, themselves, and Rabbit learns a thing or two about Tigger's worth. The season shifts from Fall to Winter, and Tigger eventually learns a lesson about playing too much when he bounces too high, and gets stuck up a tree. This one also brings the film's narrator (Sebastian Cabot) into play with a neat fourth-wall break. I like how this one has a sort of coin-flip lesson to teach kids. My basic takeaway is to know and understand your value, but don't get cocky about it.
As a kid, seeing this all in divided segments on TV, I never actually saw it as the 1977 anthology film that this is. Having said that, I couldn't help but appreciate the additional short segments between each story, which eventually lead to a very touching end. Spoiler alert, but it involves Christopher Robin having to go off to school and perhaps grow away from his toys. It's sort of a "goodbye", but it's really more like a "see you again". Remembering the way the 2018 film 'Christopher Robin' opens (very similarly), this was even more touching to me now than it could have been back then. It's neat to know that the story will eventually continue.
All in all, this is a very charming ride down memory lane, as I remembered watching all of these. I can distinctly remember moments when I watched some of them (not necessarily for the first time). I can remember watching 'Honey Tree' shortly after getting my tonsils out; I remember getting ready to go out for Halloween one year after watching 'Blustery Day' (another reason I see it as Halloween-ish); and for some reason I distinctly watching 'Tigger Too' one afternoon while home sick from school. So this all had some place in my childhood - a cheerful place I could go, however I may have felt. The sheer purity of it all is enough that I know parents who have passed it down to the next generation as something fun, safe and innocent for everyone in the house to watch. It hasn't lost its charm over the years, and this viewing really hit me in the nostalgias. It's pure comfort food!