By Jim Cummings, with an intro by Joe Strike
Disney's simply-titled Winnie the Pooh movie opens this Friday, July 15. It's back to basics for the bear with very little brain; the new Pooh takes several previously never animated A.A. Milne stories and weaves them into a tale that harkens back to the warmth and charm of Disney's 1960s Pooh featurettes.
Pooh and Disney have had a long association since the first featurette, 1966's Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. He's appeared in any number of TV series (in both puppet and animated form), direct-to-video releases and now the first theatrical Pooh release since 2005's Pooh's Heffalump Movie.
Sadly, Sterling Holloway (the original Pooh) and Paul Winchell (likewise Tigger) are no longer with us, but veteran voice actor Jim Cummings has vocalized these two inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood for over thirty years. His enthusiasm for voicing the bear and the tiger is of Tiggerish proportions, as you're about to read...
Hellooo out there to Rick and all who boldly go into his sector of the blogosphere! Jim Cummings here, aka your friendly neighborhood PoohBearMan, also yer Tiggerman. Yes tis true, with great character voices/vices comes great responsibility, and I am responsible for voicing Winnie The Pooh 'n Tigger too since 1987 A.D. Rick asked me to drop a few lines so here we go!
First off I really hope ya'll love the movie, it was a labor of love for all, really made by fans for fans. I believe that everything we all loved about the original back in the 60's (when I was in the audience) is back again and dare I say, better than ever! Every frame is frameable, from John Lasseter, Peter Del Vecho, Clark Spencer, Don Hall, and Stephen Andersen, on down to the guys at the guard gate, the love and reverence for these characters shines through.
The story is a brilliant combo of several by A.A. Milne himself, and is so well-paced it just bounces along like you-know-who. I really enjoyed singing these great songs by Bobby and Kristen Lopez, they really were "cut from the same cloth" as the original Sherman Bros. tunes. I think Craig Ferguson's OWL is great, so is Tom Kenney’s Rabbit. Folks, I've been in the 100 Acre Wood a long time now and this is my favorite trip there ever. Also very few Ninja-Nazi-Zombie Death squads from Mars appear in the film so apparently one can bring the kids safely.... okay Pooh DOES K/O/ one giant Space Robot but that’s it!
I get asked often about doing two such different characters and how do I keep them straight, etc. The truth is, that because they are so far apart vocally and personality wise, they are kinda...pre-separated. I hope that makes some kind of sense. Plus I've been making odd sounds/voices/onomotopoeia my entire life so why stop now, right?
In closing, I hope that one and all appreciate the film not just for the fact we can all take the kids to something"safe" this summer, but also that the writing is as crisp as a Seinfeld skit or any classic comedy routine one could name. I am so proud to be the torch bearer of these beloved characters and stories to a new generation, enjoy and Godspeed to all, your friend Jim Cummings... p.s. yer gonna love Zooey Deschanel's update of the theme song and her other tunes as well!