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Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie: Limited Edition DVD Gift Set with Plush Review

Buy Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie: Limited Edition DVD Gift Set with Plush from Amazon.com Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie
Movie & DVD Details

Directors: Elliot M. Bour, Saul Andrew Blinkoff / Writers: Brian Hohlfeld, Evan Spiliotopoulos; A.A. Milne (characters)

Voice Cast: Jimmy Bennett (Roo), Peter Cullen (Eeyore), Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger), John Fiedler (Piglet), Ken Sansom (Rabbit), Kath Soucie (Kanga), Kyle Stanger (Lumpy), David Ogden Stiers (Narrator), Michael Gough (Gopher - uncredited)

Songs: "Winnie-the-Pooh", "Trick 'R' Treating with Our Friends", "Brave Together", "I Am Not Afraid", "I Wanna Scare Myself!", "As Long As I'm Here With You"

Running Time: 66 Minutes / Rating: G / Video Debut: September 13, 2005

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired; Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Gift Set Release Date: September 1, 2009 / Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Black Keepcase with Winnie the Pooh Plush Doll in Clear Plastic Box

Buy Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie from Amazon.com: Limited Edition Gift Set with Plush Just the DVD


The Walt Disney Company has adapted the stories and characters of A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh books in a variety of mediums, including costumed humans ("Welcome to Pooh Corner") and Japanese bunraku puppetry ("The Book of Pooh"). But the prevailing format has been the one Disney is still best known for;
traditional animation was used on the earliest Disney Pooh (the long shorts of the 1960s) and continued to be employed on all things Pooh even as Disney's main studio was ridding itself of animator desks.

Just a few years ago, that changed. The third and latest theatrically-released Pooh film (2005's Pooh's Heffalump Movie) needed foreign audiences to earn back its slight budget. DisneyToon Studios, the division responsible for Pooh movies and videos, was closing facilities and moving away from sequel projects. And practically the entire canon of Winnie the Pooh animation was now available on DVD. Disney looked to another long-lucrative universe in its stable, Mickey Mouse and his classic co-stars, for guidance. Introduced in 2006, the Playhouse Disney series "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" made over Mickey, Donald, Goofy, et al. in preschooler-oriented three-dimensional computer animation. Met with popularity, acclaim, and profit, it became a model for the Hundred Acre Wood troupe to follow.

Whereas Mickey and company took nicely to their reinvention, Pooh and his pals did not adapt as well. The CG-animated "My Friends Tigger & Pooh" reimagined the gang as sleuths assisting a girl named Darby. While reviews and ratings were something Disney could easily boast about, the series was cancelled last fall, its third season scripts scrapped and crew laid off. But as one of the most-merchandised personas in the company portfolio, Winnie the Pooh wasn't being retired; he was simply being returned to his old, appropriately simple medium. A new traditionally-animated theatrical film was recently announced as being produced for spring 2011 release. And now, Disney's home video department is taking efforts to make sure everyone, including children born during the characters' transitional period, is well aware of Pooh's fruitful legacy.

A premature 10th Anniversary Edition was recently bestowed upon The Tigger Movie. A correctly-timed 10th Anniversary Edition DVD Gift Set of direct-to-video Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving will be in stores the end of September. A one-year-late 10th Anniversary of TV special Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You is soon to be announced for release next January. Amidst all those comes the subject of this review, Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie: DVD Gift Set with Plush, which intends to both boost Pooh's retail presence and snag some of this year's anticipated Halloween spending of $5.8 billion.

This Gift Set, which stresses that it and the plush it carries are limited, includes the same DVD released on its own four Septembers earlier. The set's $29.99 list price is $10 more than the standalone DVD's original and ongoing SRP.

Excited for their first Halloween together, Lumpy and Roo find their friends' masks hilarious. Rabbit has thoroughly planned out the trick-or-treating part of the gang's holiday.

Like the big screen outing that preceded it by just seven months, the direct-to-video Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie centers on the two youngest known residents of the Hundred Acre Wood. The smallest of the group, the upbeat and blue-shirted Roo, and the biggest, Lumpy the lavender Heffalump, recently met one another and are now best friends. Roo is excited to introduce Lumpy to Halloween, and Lumpy looks forward to celebrating the holiday. But the British-accented pachyderm's excitement for the season cools when Tigger warns him about Gobloons and what they're capable of.

When the bags of candy that Rabbit carefully distributed for each regular disappear into Winnie the Pooh's stomach, Roo and Lumpy decide they'll brave danger and take the journey to find the dreaded Gobloon. For although they risk being turned into "jaggedy lanterns", the two could also earn a wish and reap the candy needed to save the day.

Twenty-two minutes and forty seconds into the film, things change. Because Lumpy needs some help being brave, Roo decides to tell him a story he hopes will inspire him. Because it easily extends Heffalump Halloween to feature length, that story is the one that comprised the 1996 CBS TV special Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh.

Tigger doesn't quite find the right tone for describing Halloween to a young Heffalump. Piglet tells himself that he is not afraid manning this contraption in an effort to save Pooh in the recycled "Boo to You" segment.

Roo provides some narration (which is curious, since he's absent from Boo) and a brief interruption checking in with his listener. Other than that, the next 20 minutes show us Boo to You in full (minus credits). It puts Piglet in the spotlight as his many fears (high among them, spookables) threaten to turn Halloween into Hallowasn't.
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Oft-forgotten Disney invention Gopher features here, along with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Rabbit. The group sympathizes with Piglet and ultimately supplies an opportunity for the little guy to face his fears.

That is obviously the lesson meant to be gained as we return to Lumpy and Roo. They continue on their journey to reach the Gobloon (a frightening tree) and are separated. As often happens in the Hundred Acre Wood, a major misunderstanding ensues. To make things right and save Halloween, both Roo and Lumpy must face their fears as Piglet did before them.

For something whose middle third recycles a nine-year-old TV special, Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie surprisingly satisfies. The design smacks of laziness and frugality, but Boo to You holds up, like many of the "New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" cartoons that preceded it. And the storyline here manages to mesh comfortably with the earlier one, so that even though two creations made with quite different intentions are simply woven together, there is little feeling of disjointedness.

Years earlier, Tigger was a cause of another small resident's fears. The bouncy one explains his feelings in this trippy musical number "I Wanna Scare Myself." Scarecrow Rabbit, honey pot Pooh, angel Piglet, superhero Tigger, and bandit Eeyore take a break from vegetable trick-or-treating to hear Roo's plight.

While I'd consider Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie more successful in meeting its goals than Pooh's Heffalump Movie, neither one contains the charm of older and better Pooh fare, a large class that includes the first featurettes, their feature-film form, the Emmy-winning "New Adventures", ambitious DTV Pooh's Grand Adventure, and the fairly excellent Tigger Movie.
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By 2005, Disney had already concluded that Winnie the Pooh's colorful, innocuous universe was to be aimed purely at preschoolers not yet ready for the thrills of other General Audiences cinema. Part of the trend, this production skews younger than earlier ones, largely dismissing the notions that parents would pay much attention and non-parents would ever care. (If the company wants to do right with the 2011 film, they'd be wise not to subscribe to such thinking.)

Despite aiming at the youngest demographics with youthful protagonists and sensibilities, Heffalump Halloween contains some moments that could frighten some viewers. There's nothing haunting or unsettling, of course, and perhaps scares are inevitable in a movie whose biggest message is about standing up to things that seem scary. Emphasizing that value seems to come at a small price, namely, that the traditions and experiences that define Halloween are largely and unfortunately cast aside in favor of a somewhat bland year-round virtue.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. The material that is newly created for this DVD looks and sounds terrific. The picture is as stunning as any modern-day Pooh and the audio mix makes nice use of all the channels. The segment that is recycled from Boo to You is clearly matted from its original fullscreen aspect ratio, but without any glaring detriment. Though the middle part definitely looks different than its surroundings (it's not as sharp or vibrant), it's satisfactory in its own way and largely free of the grain and artifacts that are prevalent on "New Adventures" episodes' DVD appearances.

This six-inch Beanz plush doll of Winnie the Pooh dressed up as Tigger is the only thing the Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Limited Edition Gift Set adds to the 4-year-old DVD. Guide Lumpy and Roo to the Creepy Cave Opening and you could virtually save Halloween via the set-top game "Trick or Re-Treat." If you have the time to insert the disc in your DVD-ROM, the ink to print out your bingo card, and a Piglet 8 spot on your card, you're one step closer to winning Pooh's Boo! Bingo game.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The Gift Set's "beanz" plush doll features Winnie the Pooh in a Tigger costume, with Tigger printed across the chest to allay any uncertainty. Pooh's face fully shows through the head part of the costume, which can even be pulled back to reveal Pooh's ears. If you're looking for any meaning in the doll's subject, you won't find it. Pooh doesn't dress up like Tigger in this DVD or any other Halloween program as far as I know. He and his friends do pose as Tigger's relatives in The Tigger Movie, but their homemade costumes are less convincing and do not feature any chest writing. The soft doll measures six inches high. The old DVD and new doll are packaged together in a clear plastic box with a thin cardboard description wrap.

Four bonus feature listings are found under the DVD's Games & Activities heading. The only self-contained set-top game, "Trick or Re-Treat" has you navigate around mazes with shortcuts, then find dropped candy around environments, varying each stage three times. "Pass the Pumpkin" simply helps you play a Halloween version of hot potato (pumpkin and friends not included). "Pooh's Boo! Bingo" calls numbers for play with game cards you print out from the DVD-ROM materials. Finally, Party Planner gives a series of tutorials for accessing the DVD-ROM pages and playing the aforementioned games. It's aimed at parents and, since the detailed onscreen text is read aloud, illiterate and senseless ones especially.

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Oh, the places your printer will go with this DVD-ROM party menu. Tigger gets his turn in the flashlight on the DVD's main menu.

The DVD-ROM materials are not the easiest to appreciate. Viewing them requires going through the clunky Interactual Player and accessing the menu. Then, clicking on a listing merely prompts a print request, without letting you see what you'll be spending your pricey ink on. Things you can print: instructions, a materials list, the Boo! Bingo cards, customized party invitations, 5 appealing recipes from Kanga's Kitchen (including such fall treats as Rabbit's Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and Tigger-ific Caramel Apples), and directions to make your own Jaggedy Lantern.

The DVD's main menu places sets of eyeballs in the darkness surrounding a flickering pumpkin. If that seems too scary, a flashlight can be selected to illuminate a different Pooh character each time. Submenus simplify that design, using score excerpts but no animation.

One of Disney's earliest FastPlay titles, the disc loads with dated ads for Cinderella: Platinum Edition, Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, and Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment. The Sneak Peeks menu holds those plus promos for Winnie the Pooh Disney Learning Adventures, the unproduced Disney Princess Fantasy DVD Game, "Bear in the Big Blue House" DVDs, Kronk's New Groove, and "JoJo's Circus."

Pirates Roo and Lumpy are all set to brave the Creepy Cave, the Slimy Slide, and the Tree of Terror in hopes of catching the Gobloon and getting a wish granted. Lumpy wedges himself under the bed in fear, causing us to recall a similar situation from Winnie the Pooh's first animated adventure.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie is better than it should be, considering its second act is lifted and misframed from a mid-'90s TV special. Between that tactic and the slight running time, this only barely qualifies as a movie and yet it compares favorably to some of the animated Pooh works Disney made immediately before and after.
The production is overly geared to young viewers and it pays more mind to overcoming childish fear than celebrating the kid-friendly fun of the holiday. Those shortcomings keep it from being must-own seasonal fare, but it still merits a look from fans of this universe and potential kiddie Halloween party throwers.

The new limited Gift Set is simply the old DVD with a new plush doll depicting Pooh in a Tigger costume. I suppose we can disregard the fact that the plush carries no relevance to the movie it accompanies. But the bonus comes at a price, which is $5 to $12 more than the DVD on its own. Ask yourself this: Would you pay $5 to $12 for the plush by itself? Now, would you pay $5 to $12 for this tiny ridiculous plush on top of a $15 hour-long DVD? I'm guessing you've come up with at least one "no." I think you'd do better to just pick up the standalone DVD. Even so, there are better discs out there to get you in the Halloween spirit that still fall under the kid-friendly animation header.

Buy just the DVD from Amazon.com / Buy the DVD Gift Set with Plush from Amazon.com

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New to DVD: The Tigger Movie (10th Anniversary Edition) Pete's Dragon (High-Flying Edition) Hannah Montana: The Movie
My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Alvin and the Chipmunks: Trick or Treason Hocus Pocus Sing Along Songs: Happy Haunting - Party at Disneyland
Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie Pooh's Heffalump Movie Kronk's New Groove Valiant Chicken Little The Wild
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Reviewed August 27, 2009.