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 while preschoolers will love it, the rest of the family probably will find it tough to watch.
Though Tigger is the bounce-happy furball 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.
A calmer, gentler Tigger doesn’t make the movie better. “The Tigger Movie” can seem surprisingly dull for anyone over the age of six, 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. But I’ll say this: it’s a lot more entertaining in 1080p High Definition. The colors, the detail, everything comes to life just a little bit more, and I think parents may well find themselves enthralled enough by the graphics to watch this Blu-ray with their little ones.
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. 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). 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 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.
But as I said, it sure looks good on Blu-ray—jaw-dropping, even. The colors, the detail, the edge delineation, the Pooh pastels—all of it is impressive. Gone is the grain from the DVD, and yet there’s no evidence of excessive DNR or an overly scrubbed image. “The Tigger Movie” is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, “enhanced” for 16×9 television monitors.
The featured audio is an English DTS-MA 5.1 (48 kHz/24-bit), with additional audio options in French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish.
Extras from previous releases are ported over, along with two all-new bonus features. Disney Intermission allows young viewers to pause the film and play Hundred Acre Wood-themed games, including Guess the Character, Spot the Differences, and Counting. The other new feature is “A Tigger Tale,” a short piece in which the filmmakers talk about Tigger’s history and how the film grew out of it. Director Jun Falkenstein, producer Cheryl Abood, art director Toby Bluth, animator Jeff Johnson, and composer Richard Sherman weigh in.
Inside, young fans will find a Family Tree Activity poster with stickers.
Also on the Blu-ray there are 10 mini-adventures from the old TV series, “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” along with a “Round My Family Tree” Sing-Along Song and a Kenny Loggins “Your Heart Will Lead You Home” music video. On the DVD (which is included in this combo pack) there are five “New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” and the “Round My Family Tree” Sing-Along song.
Like the other Winnie the Pooh movies, “The Tigger Movie” is gentler 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.