Lyricist Robert Lopez is best known for his work with foul-mouthed Broadway puppet show, Avenue Q. Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward (aka She & Him) are considered indie darlings. Jim Cummings is the pivotal voice acting talent in the movie industry. What do these people all have in common? The Hundred Acre Wood, and Disney’s sudden rekindling of 2D animation nostalgia.
Winnie The Pooh is back on the big screen, five years after something to do with Heffalumps, and what seems like ages since anyone cared (though author A. A. Milne would have likely preferred this version of his honey fiend forgotten). In our music circles, the news has nothing to do with bouncing tigers, emo donkeys, and pigs who look more like pink beehives with rabbit ears, and more about Deschanel and the guy who brought you “The Internet Is For Porn” working on family film soundtracks.
Winnie The Pooh as a She & Him project works about as well as Yellow Submarine worked for The Beatles, because, if you’re going into this thinking “Oh, B-sides!”, you’re sorely mistaken. Composer Henry Jackman helms over half of the album, a whimsical score that should only interest fans of film’s orchestral compositions, while the rest is divided between original, charming-as-can-be kiddie tunes by Lopez, and repeatedly-reprised Deschanel/Ward covers of the Pooh theme (plus one original song, “So Long”).
Three-fourths of this record could be lopped off for the sake of its purpose here, rounding down to a few choice tracks like “So Long”, “Woods And Words/The Backson Song”, and Jim Cummings showing off his Tigger voice on “It’s Gonna Be Great”. For what Winnie The Pooh represents to many a childhood, the movie will no doubt not sell as well as it deserves to, and the soundtrack will most likely be completely overshadowed by the compilation for Transformers: Dark of the Moon. In the end, though, you get drawn in by the indie artists, a Tony Award winner, and the man of a thousand voices coming together to bring out your inner Christopher Robin, only to get sucked dry by overzealous scoring that really brings nothing new to the table.
It’s difficult to say who this album caters to. Maybe it holds appeal with the parents of kids who are just now getting their proper introduction to the living stuffed animals of yore. However, fans of Deschanel and Ward won’t likely find this worth listening to.