The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the first feature-length Disney Winnie-the-Pooh cartoon, was actually a compilation of earlier animated shorts, all based on episodes of A. A. Milne’s classic stories, such as the stories of the honey tree and the blustery day. Subsequent Disney Pooh outings, however, had original stories not based on Milne’s work, and lacked the author’s special wit and charm.
With Piglet’s Big Movie, Pooh finally returns to his roots, bringing three of Milne’s original tales to the screen for the first time in an anthology-style story. Framed as a series of flashbacks in a story with Pooh and his friends searching for the missing Piglet, the movie recalls the tales of Christopher Robin’s expedition to the North Pole, the house at Pooh Corner, and the arrival of Kanga and Roo in the Hundred Acre Wood. Running through all three episodes as well as the framing story is the film’s unifying theme, little Piglet’s big heart and heroism.
Like most recent Disney sequels, Piglet’s Big Movie is slight and a bit thin, but at least it avoids the pitfall of Return to Never Land and Jungle Book 2 of feeling as if the filmmakers are trying to artificially extend a story that had really played out and had nowhere in particular to go. Because the Pooh stories were always an anthology, not a distinct narrative, Piglet’s Big Movie exists in the same perpetual day of Christopher Robin’s remembered childhood as all the Pooh tales.
As always, John Fiedler is ideal as the voice of Piglet, while Jim Cummings reprises his creditable impressions of both Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell as, respectively, Pooh and Tigger. With some of the author’s original verse set to pleasant music by Carly Simon, Piglet’s Big Movie is a heartwarmingly gentle tribute to Milne that’s appropriate for even the youngest viewers. (One caveat: The end credits feature live footage of Simon singing one of the film’s songs; this music-video closing seems inappropriate for the target audience.)
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.