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Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You Special Edition DVD Review

Buy Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You (Special Edition) DVD from Amazon.com Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You / Un-Valentine's Day
Movie & DVD Details

Directors: Keith Ingham, Terence Harrison / Producers: Keith Ingham, Ken Kessel, Ed Ghertner / Writers: Carter Crocker, Mark Zaslove, Stephen Sustaric, Jymn Magon; A.A. Milne (characters)

Voice Cast: Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh), Paul Winchell (Tigger), John Fiedler (Piglet), Ken Sansom (Rabbit), Brady Bluhm (Christopher Robin), Peter Cullen (Eeyore), Michael Gough (Gopher), Andrι Stojka (Owl), David Warner (Narrator), Hal Smith (Owl), Patty Parris (Kanga), Tim Hoskins (Christopher Robin), Nicholas Melody (Roo), Steven Schatzberg (Piglet - singing), Frankie J. Galasso (Christopher Robin - singing)

Songs: "Winnie the Pooh", "Girls are Like Boys", "When the Love Bug Bites", "Places in the Heart"

Running Time: 50 Minutes / Rating: TV-Y

1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio), Dolby Stereo 2.0 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; Closed Captioned
Bonus Episode Captioned, Subtitled in English and Dubbed in French, Spanish
Special Debut: February 13, 1999 / Episode Airdates: September 9-30, 1989
DVD Release Date: January 5, 2010 / Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / White Keepcase with Embossed Cardboard Slipcover

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Efforts to refamiliarize the public with Disney's traditionally-animated Winnie the Pooh continue
with next week's new Special Edition DVD release of Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You. As Christmas trees stand decorated and stockings still hang, your gut reaction to the timing may be one of puzzlement, but early January is actually the studios' usual window for introducing Valentine's fare as retailers swiftly transition from one year's last and biggest holiday to the next's first and typically third largest.

Found here are two half-hour cartoons, which were billed as a "double feature" on their previous DVD, issued January 2004. The title attraction, A Valentine For You, debuted on ABC as a special in 1999. The other major component, 1989's "Un-Valentine's Day", is simply the first Season 2 episode of "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", the Daytime Emmy-winning Saturday morning fixture.

Tigger, Piglet, Winnie the Pooh, Rabbit, Gopher and Eeyore do some eavesdropping to learn what has been keeping their human friend Christopher Robin away from them in "A Valentine for You." Winnie the Pooh admires the glowing power of the Smitten lightning bug he has just harnessed.

Like much of Disney's Pooh canon (especially the lazier and more recent works), A Valentine For You (22:07) hedges on a misunderstanding. Winnie the Pooh and his fellow Hundred Acre Wood residents are concerned they haven't seen much of Christopher Robin lately. On the eve of Valentine's Day, they look for him and find him working on a Valentine for a girl named Winifred.
Owl's explanation, that Christopher Robin has been "bitten by a Smitten", does little to ease the gang's fears. They decide the only thing they can do is catch a love bug (i.e. a lightning bug) and let it bite Christopher Robin to undo the first bite and restore the boy to his usual self.

This is a far cry from Disney's best Winnie the Pooh stories. The plot is threadbare and efforts to give it meaning only underscore the disconnect between Valentine's Day's loverly themes and Pooh's innocent universe. The characters don't do much to feel like themselves, rendering this special short on the warmth that is central to A.A. Milne's appealing, oft-visited world. The program opens in a live-action bedroom of Christopher Robin, a now-routine device that as far as I can tell hadn't been used in over 15 years at the time. But if that establishes a link to Pooh's past at Disney, Michael and Patty Silversher's weak three original songs sever it. Forgettable and forced, they are greatly distanced from the Sherman Brothers' exemplary contributions to the classic Pooh tales.

Far more charming is "Un-Valentine's Day" (21:28). Since Pooh went overboard with Valentine cards last year, Rabbit gets everyone to agree not to observe Valentine's Day this year. Then, Pooh receives an anonymous pot of honey. Believing it to be a gift from his best friend, Pooh sets out to thank Piglet with a present of his own. This starts a cycle of Valentine gift-giving which soon has everyone breaking Rabbit's order and stuffing cards into Pooh's mailbox disguise. When the group determines Christopher Robin to have been the source of the initial gift pot, they decide to give him something special, staging a living Valentine directed by Rabbit and featuring Piglet as Cupid. It does not go as planned.

This is followed up by "Three Little Piglets", a short but sweet "New Adventures" installment. In it, Pooh, Rabbit, and Tigger stumble through a telling of the story of the Three Little Pigs with Piglet triplicated in the title role and Rabbit cast as the Big Bad... Bunny. It runs 6 minutes including end credits for the episode and a half. (Neither features its original opening title sequence, instead being fitted with the introductory graphics of their 1995 home video debut.)

Rabbit catches Kanga, Roo, Tigger, Gopher, and Owl using a mailbox worn by Pooh to break their promise not to send Valentines in "Un-Valentine's Day." Rabbit dons Mickey Mouse colors to play the Big Bad Bunny in Winnie the Pooh and company's unorthodox storytime of "Three Little Piglets."


The DVD features 1.33:1 fullscreen video, matching the original aspect ratio of all three components. When still, the picture on A Valentine for You is clean and satisfactory.
Character motion, however, often brings about some highly noticeable motion artifact blurring. Despite some nice and more ambitious visuals, the animation itself (by Disney's long-closed Canadian studios) clearly isn't the best or most logical (Tigger glows when he gets wet) and a couple of shots stand out as being plainly out-of-focus.

Encoded together, "Un-Valentine's Day" and "Three Little Piglets" maintain the VHS appearance that their dated graphics suggest. The picture decidedly lacks sharpness, looking soft and dull. Furthermore, the element is regularly marked by scratches and other fleeting white intruders. If you were to find and crack open an unplayed copy of the episodes' joint 1995 VHS, I would imagine it playing remarkably similar to this. While this probably isn't a strong enough seller to justify spending time and money to clean up, it's a bit disappointing to encounter such a lackluster Disney DVD presentation in 2009-10.

The soundtrack is plain two-channel stereo throughout. The more recent program boasts slightly better aural clarity, but the surroundless mix is consistently adequate.

Move the jar to where the firefly is to "Catch the Love Bug", but you've got to be fast. Piglet doesn't appreciate the servitude Tigger offers as reward in bonus episode "My Hero." Pooh does appreciate a purple Valentine card on the DVD's animated book main menu.


Carried over from the features' previous DVD is the set-top game "Catch the Love Bug". It involves using the remote's directional arrows to keep up with a fast-moving "love bug" and trap it in a jar. This brief adventure ends when five fireflies are caught, but getting there is actually fun and the game is appropriately forgiving. You get three strikes and unlimited time to help you earn a perfect score.

New to DVD is the "New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" half-episode "My Hero" (11:36).
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In this Season 1 show, Piglet falls into a body of water, saving Tigger from drowning. The grateful Tigger's efforts to repay the act with in-your-face servitude has Piglet trying to stage a situation where Tigger can "save" his life and cancel the debt. Looking and sounding about as good as it could (and quite better than the feature presentation's contemporaries), this witty cartoon includes the opening title sequence but no closing credits.

A final tangible bonus rests inside the keepcase, which is accompanied by the now-standard embossed slipcover. There are six Valentine's Day cards, featuring three unique designs (Piglet, Tigger, and Pooh & Piglet). While they've got one more Disney DVD website plug than needed, they're fine for use within a family and much less so for a standard classroom student. Another insert supplies a Disney Movie Rewards code worth 100 points.

Via Disney's FastPlay, the disc loads with a mom-oriented Disney Blu-ray promo, and spots for Dumbo: 70th Anniversary Edition, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse": Minnie's Bow-tique, and a not-yet-announced Winnie the Pooh: Frankenpooh: 15th Anniversary Special Edition. Post-feature and Page 2 menu sneak peeks tout Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition, D23, "Handy Manny": Manny's Motorcycle Adventure, and Disney Movie Rewards.

The main menu flips through animated pages of a book while the Shermans' famed "Winnie the Pooh" theme plays in instrumental form. The static submenus offer additional score excerpts, including the "New Adventures" end credits music.

Playing Cupid, an out-of-control Piglet swoops above Kanga and Pooh in an unplanned part of the gang's living Valentine for Christopher Robin. After getting bombarded by Pooh's Valentine cards last year, Rabbit urges the Hundred Acre Wood to skip the greetings this year. Hey Rabbit, ever hear of recycling?


Ironically, the titular component is the worst thing about Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You. The musical 1999 TV special is odd, overdramatic, and bland. Its company, episodes of "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", are better and "Un-Valentine's Day" especially illustrates the series' many strengths.

Although few in number, the bonus features of this Special Edition DVD add some value, particularly the amusing and previously-unreleased "New Adventures" episode "My Hero." The Valentine's Day cards are nice touch, but including four times as many would have made much more sense and hardly increased the disc's budget. While this wouldn't make a terrible little gift for Pooh fans, the standard new movie list price is far higher than the contents merit and an illogically steep increase over the cartoons' comparable, now-discontinued previous package.

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Related Reviews:
Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving • The Tigger Movie (10th Anniversary Edition) • Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie (Gift Set)
Winnie the Pooh: Springtime for Roo • Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh: Love & Friendship • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Valentine's Day Specials/Episodes: Under the Umbrella Tree: Volume 2 • The Muppet Show: Season Two • Brothers & Sisters: Season 1
New: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Choo-Choo Express • G-Force • Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Remastered Deluxe Editions: It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown • Jack Frost • The Easter Bunny is Comin' to Town
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Chipettes • The Smurfs: Season 1, Volume 2 • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: Volume 2

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Reviewed December 30, 2009.