Flouncy, Trouncy, But Not Much Fun
For a film about the bounciest resident of the Hundred Acre Wood, The Tigger Movie falls awfully flat. The animation looks lovely and several musical numbers liven the proceedings, but the story reminds one of Snoopy Come Home without the wit. Children under five may be enchanted, but adults who grew up with A.A. Milne's books and previous Disney Pooh tales will probably be disappointed.
In fact, The Tigger Movie feels less like a Disney original feature than a long episode of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Most of the new tales center on one of Pooh's friends who's feeling down. The others invariably make matters worse before they all agree they're the best friends anyone ever had. The Tigger Movie is also reminiscent of the 1997 video release Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin, in that confusion arises over a misread letter. Although the visuals are far superior in the new feature, everything else looks a lot like recent small-screen Pooh.
To make a short story long: Tigger gets upset because after he destroys Eeyore's house, no one wants to bounce with him. He determines to find his real family, imagining a great "family tree" - the largest tree in the forest, with a different Tigger on each branch, each based on a famous painting or pop-culture image like Van Gogh or Al Capone. Yet nobody responds to the letter he sends to his relatives. To cheer him up, Roo - who considers the superior bouncer a "big brother" - gets the gang to pretend to be Tigger's long-lost family.
But when Tigger uncovers the deception, he storms away from the Hundred-Acre Wood, shouting, "T.T.F.E. - ta-ta forever!" Pooh and the others must convince the bouncy one that they are his true family. Some escapades in a snowstorm with an avalanche ensue, and adorable Roo grows up a bit, but there's not that much here you've never seen in other Pooh tales.
It's hard to say whether Winnie the Pooh traditionalists will love or hate The Tigger Movie, which starts in a typical live-action shot of Christopher Robin's room, though the cartoon Tigger barges in front of the stuffed Pooh to complain that he never gets his own story. Many familiar images emerge in the subsequent film - characters leap across the words typed on the pages of a book, Tigger bounces Pooh flat on his back, Pooh climbs a tree to get honey, Piglet blows away in the wind.
The characters all look and sound right, down to Eeyore's grousing about his house and Kanga's whiny maternal concern. Tigger has a few charming lines like, "You can't bounce the bounce if you can't pronounce the bounce," and Pooh observes cleverly that Rabbit must lead their Expotition because "He's the only one who knows what he's doing."
But the energy level seems low, even when Rabbit runs about frenetically making preparations for winter. Having Pooh sing a lullaby to the bees ends up backfiring, since it puts the audience to sleep as well. Even three-year-olds get bored in the middle.
Visually, the animation is simple but superb. The wind waves through the grass, leaves wave in the autumn trees, and hundreds of snowflakes dance across the screen during a long blizzard sequence. Anyone familiar with Pooh must applaud the precision with which the familiar characters and their homes have been reproduced. And the actors are amazing - only Piglet retains the voice of his original performer, John Fiedler, but it's very hard to tell that the rest of the characters aren't performed by the same readers. "The Tigger Song" at the beginning is a definite highlight.
Still, one wishes a bit more were going on in many scenes - something as simple as a bug crawling across the floor or a curtain waving in the background could have added interest. Watching Roo practicing the "Whoopedy-Duper Loopdy-Looper Alley-Ooper Bounce" stops being funny after the first couple of tries, as does watching Tigger's cake slump over when he adds too many candles.
This might be less noticeable had the film not inserted a couple of ambitious production numbers, like the one in which Tigger fantasizes about his long-lost relatives. After seeing Tigger lookalikes melt into Dali paintings, play football, and mimic Marilyn Monroe, adult viewers in particular may be less enthralled watching our heroes walk through the woods shouting, "Halloo!"
Maybe this is an unfortunate commentary on how entertainment has changed in the years since the original Pooh cartoons, but The Tigger Movie seems cloying as well as derivative. It might be more fun to watch a good game of Pooh-Sticks.