WINNIE THE POOH
And how is this week's other adaptation of beloved British kid lit? "Winnie the Pooh" is a very full jar of honey indeed. The new animated take on several unfilmed A.A. Milne stories is a perfectly scaled little delight.
The cartoon cleverly integrates printed text, illustrations and page layouts from the books with onscreen mischief to captivating effect. When Pooh, Piglet, Owl and the rest find themselves stuck in a hole, they even fashion an escape ladder out of vowels and consonants that tumbled in after them. What better example could you want of the value of literacy?
The film, supervised by Disney-Pixar's chief creative officer John Lasseter, offers a bit of damage control for his reputation following the wan effort that was "Cars 2." The Pooh movie's cuddly tone will rekindle the affection of parents for the dear old teddy bear and capture the imaginations of new readers who are meeting him for the first time. There is mild suspense as the animal friends misunderstand a note from Christopher Robin and imagine he has been taken prisoner by a creature called the Backson.
The tale is a cheerfully moral-free lesson in tolerant sociability, and with a brisk 73-minute runtime, it won't bring on too many attacks of the squirmies. Narrator John Cleese dilutes the sugary buildup with a drop of testiness. Only the peppy, pop-tinged soundtrack lags a little; despite fine, breathy vocals by Zooey Deschanel there isn't a keeper in the bunch.
TOPP TWINS: UNTOUCHABLE GIRLS
Identical-twin entertainers Lynda and Jools Topp sing harmony like a single voice in stereo and tickle their enthusiastic audiences with inspired nonsense between numbers.
As New Zealand's leading country & western lesbian sisters act since the 1980s, they've attained a unique, long-lasting celebrity on stage and TV. Now as stars of their own documentary, they're taking their infectious brand of gay-positive entertainment worldwide. They're a two-woman comedy troupe with a stock company of characters that range from boozed-up society matrons, to fussbudget sleepaway camp counselors, to a pair of good-ol'-Kiwi ranchers named Ken and Ken.
The film interviews the twins' now-elderly mom and dad, who weren't thrilled that they wouldn't be having grandchildren but accommodated themselves to the facts of their daughters' lives with love. With a cheeky attitude and a live-and-let-live message, the Topps are irresistible ambassadors for New Zealand, where a daft sense of humor appears to be a key natural resource.