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Piglet's Big Movie DVD Review

Piglet's Big Movie

Theatrical Release: March 21, 2003 / Running Time: 75 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Francis Glebas

Voice Cast: John Fiedler (Piglet), Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger), Andre Stojka (Owl), Kath Soucie (Kanga), Nikita Hopkins (Roo), Peter Cullen (Eeyore), Ken Sansom (Rabbit), Tom Wheatly (Christopher Robin)

Songs: "Winnie the Pooh", "If I Wasn't So Small (The Piglet Song)", "Mother's Intuition", "Sing Ho For the Life of a Bear (Expotition March)", "The More it Snows (Tiddely-Pom)", "With a Few Good Friends", "The More I Look Inside"


Review by Jack Seiley

Over the past several years, Disney has developed quite a reputation for continually “harvesting” its popular Feature Animation properties. Nowhere is this done more often then in the realm of Winnie the Pooh, where no less than four television series and several full-length sequels have served as continuations of the original Many Adventures film from the 1970s, itself compiled from three earlier 20-minute shorts. Some may frown upon this practice, but it could be argued that, despite their somewhat generic plots, the subsequent Pooh productions have almost unanimously succeeded at capturing the spirit and appeal of the first film. Piglet’s Big Movie, unspectacular but pleasing, is no exception.

The main storyline of Pooh's second theatrical outing of the modern era feels somewhat like an extended episode of the likable “New Adventures” television series from the late '80s and early '90s. It begins with the Hundred Acre Wood crew putting together a master plan to get some honey from a hive full of angry bees, yet noticeably leaving Piglet out of their agenda due his small stature. Fairly depressed by this, Piglet wanders off to sulk, only to be encouraged by some woodland critters that he can make a difference if he tries.

From that point on, Piglet remains mysteriously absent throughout the movie, and the rest of his friends figure that he’s lost. In trying to find a way to recover him, the bear of very little brain gets the idea that Piglet’s “book of memories” - which contains all his drawings of past incidents with his pals - could “remember” where Piglet ran off to! So Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, and Roo all set off with the book as their guide. Most of the film's running time is spent in flashbacks, as the friends reminisce over occurrences from Piglet’s book, and in retrospect, realize that Piglet is the hero of most of the stories, despite his tiny size. Obviously, the plot is Piglet-centric, but it actually features more of the rest of the gang than title character.

Poor Piglet feels quite distressed over his size. Pooh & Pals set out to find Piglet!

As you can probably tell, the story is very weak, and it doesn’t help that it’s needlessly nonsensical and predictable towards the end. It seems the filmmakers were trying to follow the episodic nature of the original film. However, linking different episodes together with a thin plot only makes it seem more episodic that it otherwise would seem.

Yet, it still manages to entertain, solely due to the characters. For the most part, the entire Hundred Acre Wood gang retains its personalities and charm from the original Pooh film, and that makes for some very amusing and sometimes touching moments sprinkled throughout the movie. In my mind, that’s a testament to just how strong these personas are.

In addition, the animation is quite fluid and satisfactory. Despite the very low budget, it captures the mannerisms of the characters very well. The songs by Carly Simon are pretty forgettable, with the exception of a catchy marching tune that feels very similar to the Sherman Brothers' work in Many Adventures. Overall, the presence of this Grammy-winning singer is needless, but harmless – except when the film annoyingly ends with a music video of sorts featuring Simon playing the guitar in a hokey fashion.

Even though underwhelming qualities are present, as long as one is a fan of the characters, they will probably find Piglet’s Big Movie likeable. While Disney is milking this “franchise” for all its worth, at least they are staying faithful to the characters. For in the end, any entertainment value that is derived from Pooh projects comes from those characters.

Piglet debuted on DVD in June 2003. It’s easy to assume that it’s a direct-to-video release when in fact, Disney released it to theaters a few months earlier (something they see fit to do with certain low-cost sequels for unclear reasons).

Buy Piglet's Big Movie on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish, French)
Subtitles: English
Closed Captioned
Release Date: July 29, 2003
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
White Keepcase

VIDEO & AUDIO

Piglet's Big Movie appears in its original aspect ratio 1.66:1, and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions (though it may appear slightly cropped due to overscan). Being that this is a recent film, and since there’s not much else on the disc besides the feature presentation, the transfer looks terrific. The image is completely clean, and the colors are well rendered – it’s about what you’d expect, as Disney stores all their current animated projects digitally. I don’t have any suggestions on how to improve it, as the picture looks fantastic.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is similarly positive, displaying good balance and pristine sound. I didn’t notice much of anything coming from the rear speakers throughout the movie, that isn’t necessarily a weakness, as there weren’t many sound effects that called for surround sound. Therefore, I’d judge that this mix suits the picture fine.

"Piglet's Book of Memories" Game "The World According to Piglet" "Sing-Along with the Movie" Feature

BONUS MATERIALS

The disc is disappointingly light on extras. I can’t think of much else they could include for a movie of this nature, but a small making-of featurette or the film’s theatrical trailer would’ve been nice. Instead, all we get are a few interactive bonuses that are aimed at youngsters.

The set-top game “Piglet’s Book of Memories” allows the player to search for lost pages from Piglet’s book, just as the characters did in the film. We’re provided with a map of the Hundred Acre Wood, and are given the option to search through the houses of Rabbit, Pooh, Piglet, and Kanga. Each house contains 1 page, and you go about looking for it by selecting different objects to see if they’re holding it. It’s ordinary, but somewhat amusing.

“The World According to Piglet” (4:03) is similar to storybook features we’ve seen on Disney DVDs in the past – except it’s not interactive. A 3-D book opens to reveal clips from previous Pooh adventures on each page (mainly The Search for Christopher Robin and The Tigger Movie), while a narrator explains Piglet’s involvement and gives a moral for each incident. Young ones will probably have fun with it.

Lastly, “Sing Along With the Movie” provides the lyrics to the songs while watching the feature and DVD-ROM content includes print-able coloring pages.

Skippable previews play at the start of the disc for the DVD releases of Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo, The Lion King, Stitch! The Movie, Sleeping Beauty: Special Edition, Sing-Along Songs, and the theatrical release of Brother Bear. These can also be found under the Sneak Peeks heading on the main menu.

MENUS AND PACKAGING

The animated menus feature Piglet’s lively crayon drawings and selections from the musical score. Both the main menu and bonus features menu feature elaborate introductions from a narrator, explaining what each selection will take you too. It seems very much intended for children who may be using a DVD for the first time.

The disc is held in a standard white Amaray keepcase. During the time of its issuing, Disney had largely discontinued inserts – a decision that was fortunately reversed before long. Therefore, there’s no insert to be found in the case. When first released, all that was included was a coupon booklet and an ad for the Pooh attraction at Disneyland.

Main Menu Through it all, Pooh & Piglet are best friends.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Despite a mundane plot, Pooh fans will most likely enjoy Piglet’s Big Movie. The film is given an excellent transfer and sound mix, but is accompanied with little in the way of extras. With the current hefty retail price, I find it hard to completely recommend the package. But if one is looking for further adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood, Piglet at least warrants a rent, and possibly a purchase for those who are attached to the characters as much as I am.

More on the DVD

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Other Animation Page | The Ultimate Guide to Pooh

Related Reviews:
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (25th Anniversary)
Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: Volume 1 - A Great Day of Discovery
Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: Volume 2 - Friends Forever
Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year (2002)
Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo (2004)
Sing Along Songs: Sing a Song with Pooh Bear and Piglet Too

Reviewed February 11, 2005
Now in Theaters: Pooh's Heffalump Movie

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