There seem to me three levels of Disney animation: the feature films, the TV-style full-length movies and sequels, and animated versions of the A.A. Milne beloved books for children. The latter, in Disney's capable hands, reflect the simple plots and slow pacing of Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner, but are aimed at a younger audience than the books. How young? Kids who watch Playhouse Disney. The pre-schoolers.
In fact, since it was originally released in theaters in 2000, "The Tigger Movie" has become the best-selling preschool DVD of all time, according the Nielsen folks. That's quite an accomplishment, and it's worth mentioning early in the review because I'm not as high on the film, even considering the pre-school audience. Though Tigger is the bounce-happy furry ball of energy who's forever knocking other characters down and is as full of constant motion as a typical toddler, "The Tigger Movie" feels far less energetic than the title character.
I think there's a reason Tigger was a minor character. He could do his high-energy bouncing on a tail curled to resemble a spring and talk in his annoying "hoo-HOO!" manic manner for small periods of time and it would add energy to the Winnie the Pooh movies. But give him the burden of being in most scenes, and he can be a little hard to take--even calmed down a bit because the filmmakers obviously reached the same conclusion as I did. Ironically, a calmer, gentler Tigger doesn't make the movie better. "The Tigger Movie" is surprisingly low-energy and a little dull, partly because the character has been reined in a bit, and partly because it feels like as a half-hour TV cartoon stretched into a 77-minute feature film.
Tigger has always had his own theme song, which celebrated both his high-bouncing energy and his uniqueness. In fact, the chorus goes, "They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy / Fun, fun, fun, fun FUN / But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers / Is I'M the only one." The happy song debuted in "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" (1977), but suddenly the self that Tigger has been celebrating for 23 years of Disney animation isn't so happy about being the only one. Voiced again by Jim Cummings, Tigger wants his friends to bounce with him, but they take turns denying him this simple (but annoying and tiring) pleasure. Even the attempts of kindred bouncer Roo (Nikita Hopkins) can't do enough to satisfy the suddenly unsettled Tigger. So despite singing all these years about being the only Tigger in existence, he concludes that he must have come from somewhere and must have a family. So naturally he sets out to find them.
The main plot twist comes when the gang tries to show Tigger that they're his family, but Tigger misunderstands and thinks his family is going to pay a visit. The next thing you know, he's leaving in the midst of a brisk snowstorm in search of more of his species, until Christopher Robin (Tom Attenborough) gets involved and acts as the deus ex machina who sets things right again.
The other Hundred Acre Wood characters are back and with the same voices: the ambitious Rabbit (Ken Sansom), timid Piglet (John Fiedler), downer Eeyore (Peter Cullen), the mother Kanga (Kath Soucie), and the wise Owl (Andre Stojka). But it's a pretty lifeless film. It may be pretty to look at and preschoolers might like to watch Tigger bounce and see all their favorite Hundred Acre Wood characters again, but older kids and adults will find this dull, dull, dull. There's very little humor, and you can see the feel-good message about family coming from the very beginning, even if you're a youngster. What appeals to preschoolers, no doubt, is the combination of watercolor-style artwork, familiar characters, and a nice-enough soundtrack consisting of seven songs, six of them written by Richard and Robert Sherman: "How to Be a Tigger," "Round My Family Tree," "The Whoop-de-Dooper-Bounce," "The Wonderful Thing about Tiggers," "Someone Like Me Lullabee," and "Pooh's Lullabee." The seventh song was a written by the Shermans and Kenny Loggins, who performs "Your Heart Will Lead You Home." But the fact that two of them are "lullabees" reinforces how slow things get at times, and it's not just the pacing. "The Tigger Movie" just doesn't show a lot of imagination.
I haven't seen the previously released DVD to be able to offer a comparison, but this 10th Anniversary DVD displays typical Disney production values. The picture has the soft look of watercolor paintings and has a slight layer of grain throughout, but the colors are rich and pleasing and edge detail is very good for a standard definition release. "The Tigger Movie" is presented in "family-friendly widescreen," which is a 1.66:1 aspect ratio stretched to fit the entire screen.
The audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, Spanish, or French, and it's decent enough, albeit a little flat-timbred. The songs and dialogue are clear, but not terribly noteworthy otherwise. It does the job.
Aside from a second disc that's a Digital Copy, two episodes featuring Tigger are included from Disney's old TV series, "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh": "King of the Beasties" and "Tigger's Houseguest." In the first one, Tigger plays a joke on his friends and makes them think there's a "jagular" in the woods, and they make him king after he pretends to defeat the jagular. In the second one, he makes friends with a termite who's taken up residence in his home.
There's a read-alone or read-along "Tigger Movie" storybook, a "Round Your Family Tree" sing-along song, a Kenny Loggins "Your Heart Will Lead You Home" music video, a How To Make Your Own Family Tree activity, and two games--one of which rewards a perfect score with a roughly seven-minute bonus feature on the original bear and stuffed animals that inspired Milne to write his Pooh books, and Disney to adapt them. But your little one will have to play and replay the "Tigger Movie Interactive Trivia Game" to see the bonus feature, because it takes a perfect score of 16 out of 16 before it will play. The other game offers no prize, and therefore allows kids to keep guessing until they get it right. Everyone's a winner in "Thingamajigger Matching Game," which starts off by asking kids to match objects to characters and then concludes on the third round with color identification (what color is Roo's sweater, Owl's beak, etc.). A trailer is also included, but it's the two games that will appeal the most to the target audience.
Like the other Winnie the Pooh movies, "The Tigger Movie" is more gentle than most cartoons, and maybe that's why very small children warm to it. But parents, be warned: while "The Tigger Movie" may be the best-selling preschool DVD of all-time, it's going to make older children wander off in search of their own families . . . who will have abandoned the TV set rather than watch this slow-moving film. I'd give it a 5, but I have to acknowledge the popularity of this film for the target audience and bump it up a notch. Just remember that the target audience happens to be preschoolers. Everyone else will be as jaded with it as Eeyore.