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The Tigger Movie: Bounce-a-rrrific Special Edition Blu-ray + DVD Review

The Tigger Movie poster The Tigger Movie

Theatrical Release: February 11, 2000 / Running Time: 77 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: Jun Falkenstein / Writers: Eddie Guzelian (story), Jun Falkenstein (screenplay), A.A. Milne (characters)

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

Songs: "The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers", "Someone Like Me", "The Whoop-De-Dooper Bounce", "Pooh's Lullabee", "Round My Family Tree", "How to Be a Tigger", "Your Heart Will Lead You Home"

Buy The Tigger Movie from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD New DVD 10th Anniversary DVD + Digital Copy Original DVD VHS

In 2000, Winnie the Pooh had existed in print for seventy-five years and in Disney animation for over thirty. With that kind of longevity, it was easy not to notice that The Tigger Movie was a first: the Pooh universe's first all-new feature film released to theaters.

Walt Disney had acquired rights to A.A. Milne's rotund stuffed bear back in 1961. The 25-minute shorts that ensued were among the last animation Walt lived to see made and the second (Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day)
posthumously earned him his final Academy Award. Two more such featurettes came and, in between them, a 1977 feature collected and bridged previously-released content. Though not a hit like previous company highs, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh earned a place in the classic Disney canon and is rightfully well-regarded today.

From there, Pooh and friends moved to television, supplying The Disney Channel with its earliest original programming in the human puppets of "Welcome to Pooh Corner" and then joining the ranks of Saturday morning cartoons in "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." TV specials and direct-to-video works kept the franchise growing throughout the 1990s, as did a bevy of popular merchandise. Then it was back to the big screen in The Tigger Movie, which opened in February 2000 as the fourth cinematic release of Disney's TV/DTV animation department, later named DisneyToon Studios.

Tigger braves the snowy winter cold to track down his family. Winnie the Pooh thinks he might have found a Tigger relative in this striped bullfrog. (He hasn't.)

Tigger Movie was a first, but it wouldn't be a last. With a domestic gross of $45 million and a worldwide tally twice that, Tigger earned more than Fantasia 2000 and nearly as much as The Emperor's New Groove at only a fraction of the cost. Those numbers helped bring about Piglet's Big Movie in 2003 and Pooh's Heffalump Movie in 2005.

As the returns dwindled, Disney gave films and even direct-to-video productions a rest, only to reinvent the world in 2007's bright computer-animated Playhouse Disney series "My Friends Tigger & Pooh." This unmistakable downward spiral to Disney's Pooh gladly and recently came to an end. In 2009, "My Friends" was put to bed after two seasons. Then, Pooh and company were restored to their original glory in last year's faithful Winnie the Pooh, a box office flop and Oscar snub, but one that pleased fans of the characters and of Walt's first interpretation of them. Such an audience had endured eleven years since the last really bright spot in Pooh's animated output.

The Tigger Movie follows the design established in Many Adventures and upheld in 2011's Winnie the Pooh, opening in the bedroom of a boy (Christopher Robin) and proceeding to tell a tale from one of his storybooks. But before the omniscient Narrator (John Hurt) can turn our attentions to Winnie the Pooh, Tigger objects and demands he get to be front and center for once. And so he is. But his usual playmates -- Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, et al. -- are either busy or fed up with his bouncing, which sets back winter preparation efforts and wrecks the home of Eeyore.

Soon, the very aspect touted to be "the most wonderful thing about Tiggers" -- that Tigger is the only one -- is reason for discontent. But, between the ramblings of Owl and the encouragement of young admirer Roo, Tigger becomes convinced that there is a Tigger family tree out there somewhere which holds oodles of fun relatives just like him. Tigger's Hundred Acre Wood neighbors react to this idea with the best of intentions, starting with a search for striped, bouncy creatures. Then they draft a letter and, claiming to be his family, offer some nice general sentiments.

Receiving the note further inflates Tigger's hopes and reading betwixt the lines, he comes to expect an imminent visit. Pooh, Roo, and the others decide dressing up and acting like Tigger is their best bet. When that charade falls apart, Tigger sets off, braving the winter snow in search of the literal tree that must house his kind.

The Hundred Acre Wood gang poses as Tigger's family, wearing less than convincing striped orange costumes that make it easy to identify Eeyore, Owl, Roo, Kanga, Piglet, and Pooh.

The Tigger Movie does right in just about every creative decision it makes. Its appealing world is instantly familiar from the Disney animation that's preceded it. And yet you'll notice the visuals are smoother and more polished than ever before. Even computer animation, a medium not yet mastered in 2000 and one in stark contrast to the film's simple, artful 2-D, is tactfully integrated in scenes of snow and honeybees.
The voice cast is spot-on, most having settled into the parts in TV and videos. The story maintains a style that's true to Milne's world. Wordplay and misunderstandings produce smiles in appreciative older viewers, while younger audiences will more vocally enjoy the broad personalities and physical comedy.

The film is a musical and not in the let's-sell-soundtracks and get-famous-names manner of many contemporaries. Songs advance the plot in catchy, rhythmic ways. If they somehow remind you of famous ditties from Disney's past, there is a good reason. Legendary songwriting siblings Richard and Robert Sherman reunited to compose five original numbers and co-write the nice Kenny Loggins-performed end credits theme. Although the Shermans hadn't regularly worked in film for a couple of decades, they returned to the fray without missing a beat. Their new creations sound every bit as timeless, if not as instantly memorable, as the tunes they wrote for the parts of Many Adventures.

Ultimately, the film stays true to Disney's classic Pooh tales with a bit of the spunk and imagination of the fine '80s/'90s Saturday morning cartoon. It's also about as respectful of Milne's work as an Americanization could be. (In a neat touch, E.H. Shepard illustrations accompany the end credits scroll.) And though it may be too tame, slight, and folksy for the general public to embrace heartily, it satisfies in a pleasant low-key way.

Surprisingly, the movie's success (creatively more than financially) didn't immediately lead writer/director Jun Falkenstein to more prominent work. After Tigger, she returned to storyboarding on Mulan II and little-known TV cartoons. She was also initially at the helm of 2006's Curious George (seemingly a perfect fit) but backed out over a script that subsequently wasn't used. In recent years, Falkenstein has resurfaced as a storyboard artist on a number of major films, including Despicable Me, The Smurfs, and Astro Boy. She will be directing again on a new CG adaptation of The Jungle Book for India's DQ Entertainment, which is aiming for 2014 theatrical release. Falkenstein's guidance probably would have improved the two Pooh films that followed Tigger to theaters, but at least those are behind us and we can be proud of our Pooh once again, even if the gang's commercial drawing power isn't what it used to be.

In the years leading up to last year's Winnie the Pooh movie, Disney discontinued a whole bunch of the franchise's DVDs and then reissued new versions for some of them, including a premature 10th Anniversary Edition for The Tigger Movie. Next week, this film becomes only Pooh's second to hit Blu-ray Disc as it arrives in stores as part of the biggest retail outpouring of Disney animation in memory. Tigger Movie's new two-disc Blu-ray + DVD set is called a Bounce-a-rrrific Special Edition, but don't let that ridiculous name get you down, for there are some pleasant surprises in store.

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The Tigger Movie: Bounce-a-rrrific Special Edition Blu-ray + DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English); DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Both: Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
DVD Closed Captioned; Most Extras Subtitled
Release Date: August 21, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (1 BD-50 & 1 DVD-9)
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone new DVD ($29.99 SRP) and in DVD Case ($39.99 SRP)
Previously released as 10th Anniversary DVD + Digital Copy (August 4, 2009),
DVD and VHS (August 22, 2000)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Not too surprisingly for a millennial animated film, The Tigger Movie looks positively flawless on Blu-ray Disc. The 1.78:1 presentation is a slight and inconsequential shift from the 1.66:1 framing of previous DVDs and from the 1.85:1 of theatrical exhibition. That allows every available pixel to go to the film. The results are dazzling.
Pooh & Friends Folded Notes
While last year's Winnie the Pooh may best this one on an aesthetic level, this still offers a practically ideal rendition of the Hundred Acre Wood and the excellent transfer shows off the warm, vibrant, visuals and crisp animation. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is an utter delight. The lively mix benefits from a good amount of atmosphere and directional effects, both of which have strong impact in their uncompressed state. The track especially brims with life during a climactic avalanche, which may be the most action-packed moment Pooh and company have ever experienced. The Portuguese dub from the 10th Anniversary DVD is dropped on both formats.

Five of the makers of "The Tigger Movie" come together for a locket-filling group photo in the brand new retrospective "A Tigger Tale." The widescreen framing looks a bit cramped on this "Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" short adapted from The Many Adventures' "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" segment.

BONUS FEATURES

The extras on The Tigger Movie's Blu-ray may very well surprise you, both in that they are nearly all presented in high definition and that they include some never-before-seen items.

First and most shocking is "A Tigger Tale" (6:22, HD), a brand new retrospective that reunites songwriter Richard Sherman,
writer/director Jun Falkenstein, producer Cheryl Abood, art director Toby Bluth, and animation supervisor Jeff Johnson. Sherman leads the discussion with an historical perspective, sharing his experiences on Walt's original featurettes from the 1960s. Those featurettes are acknowledged as the project's guiding source and comparative excerpts show how certain bits were paid faithful homage (they also show that The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh has clearly been prepped for Blu-ray). Color me shocked by this inclusion. This is a luxury that for several years Disney has extended to virtually none of its catalog titles outside of the Platinum/Diamond Collection or Pixar. To get a substantial (albeit short) piece like this on The Tigger Movie, a film that doesn't number among Feature Animation's canon or even get much respect from animation buffs, is one of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's biggest and niftiest surprises of 2012.

Less inspiring is the next section, a collection of ten "Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" shorts. These 2-3 minute HD cartoons excerpt Pooh films with certain characters revoiced by the current voice actors. John Cleese assumes narrator duties and Jim Cummings tackles his usual dual roles of Pooh and Tigger. Beyond that, there is less consistency; Bud Luckey revoices Eeyore and Tom Kenny claims Rabbit, but on one short John Fiedler's Piglet remains intact and others keep Verna Felton as Kanga, creating odd and apparent disconnect in the quality of the recordings.

The studio's efforts on these are downright questionable. Why put time and money into this when I suspect that most viewers who care (like me) would rather have gotten one of the Many Adventures featurettes in its complete, original state or some complete "New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" episodes? All these do is cultivate short attention spans and suggest that classic animation has to be updated for today's viewers' ears. It must be said, though, that these look great, even with Many Adventures suspiciously matted to cramped widescreen.

Further confusing me, half of the "Mini Adventures" are adapted from The Tigger Movie. Who needs to see those after having just watched the movie? Those five are titled "The Most Wonderful Thing About Tiggers", "Eeyore's House", "Someone Like Tigger", "Lullabee", and "The Super Bounce." Extracted from Many Adventures segments are "Pooh and Tigger", "What Tiggers Do Best", "Tigger Goes Ice Skating", "The Jagular", and "Unbouncing Tigger."

A glamorous, amorous Marilyn Monroe Tigger features in the "Round My Family Tree" sing-along. "Your heart will lead you home", sings Kenny Loggins in a sweater matching his salt and pepper goatee.

A sing-along song for "Round My Family Tree" (2:45, HD) merely plays the flavorful number from the film in Dolby 2.0 sound with plain lyric subtitles over it. This is the modern equivalent of a 12-year-old supplement; the film's first DVD pulled this from one of Disney's Sing-Along Songs videos, whereby it included colorful, animated lyrics, Tigger's introductory narration, and a less abrupt end.

Though Kenny Loggins does not make the jump to high definition, he still looks sharper than ever here in his music video for "Your Heart Will Lead You Home" (4:49). No stranger to soundtrack contributions (e.g. Caddyshack, Footloose, Top Gun), Loggins enters a darkened, empty recording studio and, inspired by a short Tigger Movie clip, strums out this heartwarming closing song. We volley between views of the sweatered, salt-and-pepper-goateed Loggins and silent scenes from the movie. Per Disney's befuddling music video policy, this is the one extra that goes without subtitles.

Disney Intermission seeks to make movie pausings more fun for the young and easily entertained with games like "What's different?"... ...and count the bees!

Not listed among the extras but worth mentioning is "Disney Intermission", a feature introduced on The Muppets that seeks to spice up paused playback.
Ten seconds after you pause the film, you are treated to some narrated animation and activities like character-guessing, spotting the differences between two similar images, and counting Tigger's bounces. Young viewers might enjoy it. Though activated by default, you can disable the feature if you'd like, if for instance you meant to truly just pause the film when you hit the pause button.

Listed on the menu but not on the package are the studio's standard Digital Copy how-to (1:04) and time-wasting "Info", which is really just legal disclaimers.

Unsurprisingly but stupidly, the DVD included here is not the 10th Anniversary Edition's primary disc, but a new one more closely resembling the Blu-ray. In other words, it's a scaled back version of the Blu-ray, because standard definition has to be kept a few steps behind BD. This leads me to wonder... why do studios take the time and effort to author inferior versions of existing DVDs for catalog title combo packs? Had they just used the film's recently in-print DVD, there'd have been value in a few exclusive features and nothing lost.

It's not as if the movie stands to make great gains over its 3-year-old presentation within standard definition. What a poor use of resources. And now that means if you haven't already got The Tigger Movie on DVD, you're stuck either accepting the widely available pared down new disc or tracking down the old ones through secondhand markets. I can understand Disney wanting to update disc-opening trailers for relevance, but they could have done that and otherwise left the disc as it was. And it's not as if they haven't placed old DVDs alongside new Blu-rays for some combo packs (spring's Father of the Bride 2-movie collection comes to mind).

Instead, the DVD here includes just five "Mini Adventures" (and to add insult to injury, they are all the Tigger Movie ones), the "Round My Family Tree" sing-along, and the digital copy tutorial. That's right, with this set and from this date on, you'll now need a Blu-ray player to enjoy Kenny Loggins' salt and pepper goatee. And, no, disc space is not a concern, with this DVD coming in about 2 GB under capacity. (For that matter, the Blu-ray also falls well under dual-layered capacity. Checking in at 31.8 GB, it could have easily accommodated some dragging and dropping of the missing DVD extras.)

Both the Blu-ray and FastPlay-enhanced DVD open with trailers for Cinderella: Diamond Edition and Finding Nemo 3D. The menus' Sneak Peeks listing repeats those and adds promos for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Parks, The Aristocats, Secret of the Wings, The Rescuers & The Rescuers Down Under: 2 Movie Collection, Chimpanzee, and Planes.

WHAT'S MISSING?

Missing here but included on both of The Tigger Movie's previous DVDs: a 16-question trivia game, which mastering led to a 90-second reward video on Pooh's origins and author A.A. Milne; a 3-round, 18-question "Thingamajigger Matching Game"; a "Round Your Family Tree" guide to getting genealogical with your own family; a 32-screen DVD Storybook to read yourself or have read to you; and an original Tigger Movie theatrical trailer (which I must clarify was largely just a preview of Tigger and Roo's Whoop-De-Dooper Loop-De-Looper Ali-Ooper Bounce and not the standard preview that delightfully featured Third Eye Blind's "Semi-Charmed Life").

Also missed here are the two episodes of the Emmy-winning '80s/'90s "New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" series that were added for the 10th Anniversary Edition DVD. The 12-minute "King of the Beasties" and 11-minute "Tigger's Houseguest" lacked the show's most memorable aspect (the theme tune and title sequence montage), but were still charming inclusions whose absence is felt. In addition, the 10th Anniversary DVD was one of Disney's few non-Blu-rays to include a digital copy disc. Seems like that would have been incredibly easy and fitting to include again here, but no such luck. Those adventurous enough to put together their own definitive Tigger Movie combo pack could easily do so by pairing the Blu-ray with the 10th Anniversary DVD's discs and tossing the new DVD into the hands of someone who doesn't get worked up about Tigger Movie special features.

The new Bounce-a-rrrific Tigger Movie DVD menu pans across a wall of character portraits, some of which play clips from the film.

MENUS and PACKAGING

The menu moves around a wall of photo frames, some of which play clips. Like every other Disney Blu-ray I've encountered, this one fails to resume playback or let you place bookmarks on the film. It does, however, remember where you left off watching the movie if you didn't finish.

Disney doesn't skimp on the packaging here, fitting the Blu-ray case with a cardboard slipcover that embosses character outlines, the title logo and even the springs of the orange border. Inside, we find a Disney Movie Rewards booklet with unique code and an ad that doubles for a $2 diaper coupon (has Disney already forgotten that Pooh ain't just for babies?!). In between them is a family tree activity poster along with character stickers. The poster makes very clear what sticker should go where, but it also gives you the option to forget those twelve and instead use the twelve mostly blank (with tiny character images) stickers to make this something resembling your family tree. There are clear directions along with some ideas for other ways to use the stickers. Seems like "Round Your Family Tree" maybe shouldn't have been dropped! For some, the most exciting part of the activity poster may be the page that declares The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is coming to Blu-ray spring 2013.

Tigger teaches Roo the Whoop-De-Dooper Loop-De-Looper Ali-Ooper Bounce. Tigger's friends have the best of intentions when they write a letter pretending to be his family. Who-hoo-hoo knew he'd read betwixt the lines?!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Tigger Movie's Blu-ray debut is quicker and better than expected. It comes close to being the film's definitive release, but drops way too many bonus features to qualify as that. Replace this new DVD here with a superior old one and you'll have a definitive combo pack of your own. Though you might not suspect it, this is a good enough movie to own and not one you need a toddler to even consider seeing.

The film is treated to terrific picture and sound and at least a couple of the extras are special (and the mini adventures point to satisfying results, if debatable framing, for The Many Adventures). The set's biggest shortcoming may be its steep price tag which is on par with Criterion Collection Blu-rays. That will discourage some potential sales and understandably so. If picture and sound quality are of greater concern to you than money, then you won't regret picking this up. Otherwise, a price drop is more likely to come than another new edition.

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Related Reviews:
Theatrical Pooh: Winnie the Pooh Pooh's Heffalump Movie Piglet's Big Movie The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin Winnie the Pooh: A Valentine for You Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year
Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie
The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh DVDs: A Great Day of Discovery Friends Forever It's Playtime with Pooh Love & Friendship
The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story Sing Along Songs: Sing a Song with Pooh Bear and Piglet Too
My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Friendly Tails Hundred Acre Wood Haunt Super Sleuth Christmas Movie Tigger & Pooh and a Musical Too
Disney Learning Adventures: Winnie the Pooh - Wonderful Word Adventure Winnie the Pooh - Shapes and Sizes
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New: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (Blu-ray 3D) Jaws (Blu-ray) The Smurfs and the Magic Flute Spaceballs

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Reviewed August 16, 2012.