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My Friends Tigger & Pooh on DVD: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie • Friendly Tails • Hundred Acre Wood Haunt • Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too

My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too DVD Review

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Show & DVD Details

Executive Producer: Brian Hohlfeld / Writers: Nicole Dubuc, Dean Stefan, Brian Hohlfeld

Director: David Hartman

Voice Cast: Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh/Tigger/Beaver), Chloe Moretz (Darby), Peter Cullen (Eeyore), Ken Sansom (Rabbit), Dee Bradley Baker (Buster), Brenda Blethyn (Mama Heffalump), Max Burkholder (Roo), Oliver Dillon (Lumpy), Mark Hamill (Turtle), Travis Oates (Piglet), Kath Soucie (Kanga), Tara Strong (Additional Voices)

Running Time: 60 minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled and Captioned
DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009 / Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99 / White Keepcase in Embossed, Holographic Cardboard Slipcover

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Disney is no stranger to the world of direct-to-video movies. They've been lambasted for their excessive sequels to theatrical animated features, and understandably so. The department has been so oversaturated with these continuations that it's easy to overlook other projects of the same class, such as television expansions. Classifying these is somewhat tricky, since the special double-length episodes of existing TV series premiere on home video first but usually end up making it into the show's on-air rotation.

The latest such creature, Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too, is notable for following a different path than its other brethren. It happens to be part of a Playhouse Disney series "My Friends Tigger & Pooh", which itself was inspired by the studio's various traditionally-animated Winnie the Pooh properties. As such, this "film" has the challenge of appeasing fans of the Disney Channel series and fans of its predecessors, dating back to the 1960s featurettes.

At the Hundred Acre Wood picnic, the gang elects Rabbit mayor without knowing what a mayor is, prompting Darby to explain. Pooh may once have dreamed of Christopher Robin, but now he can only dream of Piglet thanks to Rabbit's new move as mayor.

Most of the Hundred Acre Wood favorites are celebrating their friendship via a picnic organized by Rabbit (voiced by Ken Sansom). As a means of thank you, the gang bestows upon him the title of mayor. This, of course, poses a problem as Rabbit instantly becomes more of a dictator than a leader, forcing everyone to live by a strict schedule. When Tigger (Jim Cummings) takes on the role of anarchist,
a line is drawn all throughout the Hundred Acre Wood to separate the two sects. Darby (Chloe Moretz) and her dog Buster (Dee Bradley Baker) are the only ones allowed to drift to both sides, leaving the other residents feeling rather restricted.

One shouldn't go into Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too expecting a wholly original experience. The ideas of a leader with a superiority complex and two opposing sides marking their territories have been done countless time in the past. That said, the film (which debatably qualifies as one with a 60-minute runtime) is still appealing. Perhaps that's due more to the charms of A.A. Milne's original characters than anything exclusive to here, but it mostly works. Those familiar with the "Tigger & Pooh" series may notice that this feels a bit more ambitious. The computer animation and voice work are up to the same standards, but the cinematography, editing, and score are a bit more professional than usual. The heavily-promoted musical numbers aren't particularly memorable (save for Tigger's "Bouncin'"), but they're pleasant nonetheless.

As a special episode, the program generally succeeds. It loses steam in its second half, but not as badly as the DTV "movies" of shows like "Little Einsteins." Musical still suffers from some of the same problems any standard episode of the show does. The lack of Christopher Robin, Owl, and Gopher is awfully conspicuous. Also, while the characters behave as themselves, there's still something off about the tone and presentation. Gone is the sense of whimsy from the original shorts or even the many spin-offs. It may sound unreasonable to ask that a preschool series have a similar feel to 40-year-old cartoons that were aimed at general audiences. When one sees something like "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse", however, the request doesn't seem so far-fetched. That show sticks to classic sensibilities while embracing a new format. Nothing in "Tigger & Pooh" feels overtly modern, but it does have a vaguely contemporary aura about it that clashes with timeless Pooh properties of the past.

Tigger channels Gene Kelly in the Broadwayesque tune "Bouncin'." Roo and Lumpy find it difficult to engage in a game of catch while heeding the boundary line.

The real question is whether Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too meets its goal of entertaining preschoolers while simultaneously educating them. It's hard to truthfully answer that as an adult, but the answer seems to be yes. Unlike other children's programming today, "Tigger & Pooh" is more concerned with life lessons than classroom ones. That method frees it from the constraints of the genre, but at the same it invites more comparisons to older Pooh shows. Still, the new film should please those who enjoy the standard series and others in its vein.

VIDEO and AUDIO

Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too appears in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. It comes as no surprise that the results are positive. Being a digital creation, there are no source flaws to be had at all. The image can be a little soft, but this seems more due to the animation style than the transfer itself. In terms of digital defects, some color banding and jagged edges appear on occasion, but not nearly enough to distract from the colorful presentation.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack doesn't seem startlingly different from the 2.0 tracks of normal episodes. The key difference is really the music, which is expansive and varied. Dialogue is expectedly front-heavy while the surrounds occasionally come to life with effects. It's not a fully immersive track, but it pleases.

Rabbit wants to know if you can spot the backdrop element that doesn't fit the spring seasonal theme. Active Play asks the viewer to count how many cookies Kanga has left to give. Interactive Play has the viewer match the paint can with the right unfinished balloon.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

A few bonus features round out the disc, most of which involve alternate viewings of the main feature.

The first supplement is the set-top game "Rabbit's Think Think Think Theatre." Here, the player is asked by Rabbit to assemble a custom theatrical performance.
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One chooses the musical number and seasonal backdrop. Then, once all illogical props are removed, you can practice dance moves with the Super Sleuths. There's only one noteworthy aspect of this uninspiring game which will be discussed later.

Next come two special viewing modes for the show. The first, Active Play, periodically interrupts the film for the type of educational, direct-address questions the series avoids. The second, Interactive Play, is the same, only with set-top games replacing the Q&A breaks. In a nice touch, the DVD remembers what musical number was picked for "Rabbit's Think Think Think Game", with lyrics appearing for only that song in either viewing mode. Also worth mentioning is that the feature doesn't have to be completely replayed to access the new interactive segments. Pressing the chapter search button takes the player directly to one of the eight breaks from each mode. Other than that, the activities ranging from memory games to ink-and-painting feel all too familiar.

Yet another way to experience the feature is offered via the Sing-Along. A staple of Disney DVDs, this activates a subtitle track displaying lyrics for the film's seven songs.

Pooh shows more attentiveness than usual when listening to Kenny Loggins sing "Underneath the Same Sky." The razzle-dazzle main menu switches what three characters appear in the frame every few seconds.

The bonus material concludes with Kenny Loggins' "Underneath the Same Sky" music video (3:28).
In it, the artist starts off in a blank room with some frames containing film clips. As the video progresses, he finds himself more immersed in the Hundred Acre Wood. It's a forgettable tune with an average video.

Via Disney's FastPlay, the main program is bookended with sneak peeks. These begin with ads for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Platinum Edition, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Mickey's Big Splash, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Adventures in Wonderland, and Disney Movie Rewards. After the feature presentation, more previews turn up for Up, Monsters, Inc. on Blu-ray, and Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure.

The main menu features an instrumental version of Tigger's show-stopping "Bouncin'" number as stock character clip art alternates in a curtained frame. All submenus (except Sneak Peeks) feature the same score, but no animation.

Inside the white Amaray keepcase is a Disney Movie Rewards code and a taller-than-usual pamphlet advertising other Playhouse Disney products. Following other recent releases, the disc has a dull gray surface, with the budget probably squandered on the embossed, holographic slipcover.

When poor Piglet’s home happens to sit right on the infamous white line, the leaders of both sides (Rabbit and Tigger) fight over his support. While Tigger may find Rabbit’s white boundary line an inspired idea, Pooh and Darby think otherwise.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too is consistent with the standard half-hour episodes of "My Friends Tigger & Pooh", even taking a few things further. It still comes up short when pinned against Disney's other Pooh films and shows, but perhaps that's an unfair comparison. When compared to other preschool programming, it emerges favorably. Though the DVD offers satisfying audio/video and some supplements to increase rewatchability, it's difficult to recommend a purchase of an hour of TV-quality programming when it's priced the same as higher caliber Disney classics. If any are out there, diehard fans may want to pick it up, but everyone else interested can simply catch an airing of it on Playhouse Disney when it inevitably goes there.

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Related Reviews:
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Reviewed April 4, 2009.