"POOH" IS NOTHING TO POOH-POOH @ 16 July 2011 09:58 PM

We sat in a crowded theater to see Winnie the Pooh today and heard adults and children laughing, oohing and "aww"-ing as, for a golden hour or so, they took a breather from the clutter of the commonplace and watched a masterwork of sheer simplicity, taste and talent.

And it was funny. HA-HA funny. Seriously, more than most of today's sitcoms. The wordplay, timing, and pacing was near perfectlon.

How can you miss when the genius of John Cleese takes up where Sebastian Cabot left off, when the astonishing Jim Cummings channels Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell, when Tom Kenny -- the actor who brings TV's most absorbent fellow -- voices Rabbit and when the temptation to go for BIIIIIIG Hollywood names (of this week) was forgone in place of the best people for the voices?

And perhaps most of all, Craig Ferguson takes Owl, perhaps the least appreciated character in the Hundred Acre Wood, and makes him not just funny, but sometimes laugh-out-loud funny -- if you don't believe me, watch the "pit" scene. The crowd roared.

By the way, Ferguson has been tirelessly and proudly touting his role for months on his late-night show, appeared this week on The Tonight Show to plug it, and devoted an entire hour of his Late, Late Show to the film -- right down to guest spots for Zooey Deschanel, who sings in the film, and the aforementioned Cummings, getting a rare chance to appear in person on a mainstream TV show -- if only we could see other great voice actors afforded the same thing once in a while! Ferguson's show, which is strictly for grownups, can be seen on the CBS website.

Yeah, yeah, I know, a wizard is in almost every other theater. But allow your blood pressure to lower for a shining moment or two with Pooh and crew.

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