Walt Disney Pictures (September 13, 2005), Walt Disney Video (September 1, 2009), single disc, 66 mins plus supplements, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, Rated G, Retail: $29.99
Lumpy and Roo celebrate their first Halloween together in the Hundred Acre Woods.
The Sweatbox Review:
The Hundred Acre Woods is the perfect Halloween setting. While a setting for a children’s story, all woods have that air of mystery and danger lurking beneath the shadows. The overhanging branches and howling wind rustling through the leaves only add to the atmosphere. Of course, we also know that the Woods are the home of Winnie the Pooh and the rest of his friends. Christopher Robin usually plays there so I assume it’s really not that dangerous. But, this does not matter to the most sensitive inhabitants of the woods like Piglet and more recently Lumpy. In this rerelease of the 2005 sequel to Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (also from 2005), we find Lumpy and Roo celebrating their first Halloween together.
Pooh’s Heffalump Movie was probably one of the most critically acclaimed of the more recent Winnie the Pooh films. Critics and audiences alike were charmed by the new character of Lumpy (voiced by British child actor Kyle Stranger) and his addition to the Winnie the Pooh cannon of characters. This was arguably the first major character introduced into the series since Gopher was introduced to attract American audiences in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. Lumpy is a Heffalump (basically an elephant, as sung in the popular song “Heffalumps and Woozles”) that befriended Roo in Pooh’s Heffalump Movie. While traditionally they were creatures feared by the other inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Woods, when Roo introduces everyone to Lumpy, the relationship between the two groups improves dramatically. Sensing a great new character on their hands, the Walt Disney Company quickly approved production of a Halloween themed Heffalump movie featuring the new character.
Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie begins like most Winnie the Pooh films, with an opening shot of Christopher Robbin’s live action playroom, and closing in on a children’s book. In the beginning of the story, we see Roo and Kanga as they are discussing the upcoming Halloween celebrations and how it will be Lumpy’s first. Together, the two friends then head over to Rabbit’s house where they are joined by Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore. Rabbit has gathered all the candy in the Hundred Acre Woods and has an elaborate plan of distributing them to different houses for trick-or-treating. When Tigger starts talking about the Gobloon, a monster that can turn creatures into “jaggedy lanterns”, Lumpy suddenly gets cold feet and decides he is too afraid to go out. However, when Pooh “accidentally” eats all the candy, catching the Gobloon who can grant them wishes is their only chance of getting more candy. The two young friends then set off on an adventure to catch the Gobloon, but must overcome their fears in the process.
Along the way to the Gobloon’s hiding place, Lumpy gets scared and Roo decides to tell him a story about how Piglet used to be scared of Halloween. This story is taken straight from a Halloween special from 1996 called Boo To You Too!, which in turn was based on the long-running The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh television show. In the half-hour segment (basically half of this release), Piglet faces his fears about Halloween in order to celebrate it with his best friend Pooh. When his friends show up at this house, Piglet still has not picked a Halloween costume and eventually he decides to not participate. With the entire holiday falling apart, each return to their perspective home, but later decide to spend the evening with Piglet. However, Piglet runs away into the forest at the first sight of his costumed friends. Lost in the woods, Piglet must overcome his fears in order to save Pooh from perceived dangers and other spookables. At the end of this story, Lumpy and Roo finally muster enough courage to capture the Gobloon. However, their plan quickly falls apart as their own fears get in the way of their final goal. Ultimately, when they get lost separately, each one revises what they wanted from the Gobloon in the first place and realize that what they really want is each other.
In the end, we get a cute Halloween special, worthy enough as a DTV sequel to Heffalump Movie. It’s not a spectacular story, but it’s got enough charm for me to recommend it. This isn’t the first time that Disney has prepackaged old Halloween-themed episodes and specials into a coherent plotline. A few years back, Disney also released a popular double-feature called Frankenpooh/Spookable Pooh which was made up of episodes from the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Parents like these releases because they provide fun, family entertainment for kids to watch on Halloween before, after, or instead of going out to trick-or-treat. With this release, Lumpy continues to gain ground in the franchise, even if it is at the expense of other youthful characters in the series (where did Christopher Robin go?). This feature is also noticeable for being John Fiedler’s final performance as Piglet. Fiedler had voiced the character since the very first Winnie the Pooh special and was one of the last performers to continue providing voices in recent years.
Is This Thing Loaded?
Other than a bunch of previews, the special features on this set also include set-top games and printable activities. The previews in the Sneak Peeks section include Cinderella: Special Edition, Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin, Disney Learning Adventures – Winnie the Pooh: Shapes & Sizes/Wonderful Word Adventure, Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment, Disney Princess Fantasy DVD Game, Bear in the Big Blue House, Kronk’s New Groove, and Jojo’s Circus.
The Bonus Features menu includes 4 different games and activities designed for children ages 3 to 7. First up is “Trick or Re-Treat” where you must navigate Lumpy and Roo through the Hundred Acre Woods as they search for the Gobloons. There are several levels to the game and after every level you must find the hidden location of the missing candy. The game is fairly easy once you realize that there are secret passages, and it is suitable for all ages (as long as they are remote literate).
The next two activities are to be played at home at a sort of Halloween party. The first is “Pass the Pumpkin” which is a game where players stand in a circle and pass a small pumpkin around until the song stops. This game is meant to be played with the DVD on in the background playing the different songs. “Pooh’s Boo! Bingo” is the second activity that is played at home. The different bingo pieces are randomly drawn on the screen and kids at home must use their printouts to play the game accordingly.
Finally, as mentioned above, there is a selection of printouts available in the DVD-ROM portion of the DVD. On the DVD, there is a whole section called “Parent’s Instructions” explaining the different activities and how kids can play them. It also explains that there is a PDF document on the DVD-ROM portion of the disc called “Party Printables.” My only problem with this is that one must install the dreaded (and now blessedly defunct) InterActural DVD player to access these features.
In order to attract attention for the re-release of the 2005 DTV sequel, Disney has repackaged Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie in a special package containing a plush toy. The Pooh-dressed-as-Tigger plush toy that I got is about the size of an adult’s hand. The plush comes in a transparent plastic box also containing the DVD of the movie. The DVD comes in a standard black keepcase.
Ink And Paint:
Because the film features new animation combined with clips of old specials, the quality of the print varies greatly between scenes. The new animation of Lumpy and his Halloween celebration is clean, crisp, and most likely of digital source. The segment featuring Piglet’s story, now more than 10 years old, is more unfocused, contains more grain, and is likely a video transfer. It is pretty noticeable when the story goes from Roo telling the story to Piglet within the story, that this is an older animated segment. Still, it’s not that bad and it only distracts when there is a transition between old and new segments. There is also a weird focusing of the characters at the end of Piglet’s segment which was a little strange. Otherwise, the quality of the print is great. The colors are vibrant and the backgrounds look like they came right out of a storybook. The film is presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There is a Disney Fast Play option that will play the movie complete with subtitles.
Disney has released this DVD with full English, French, and Spanish Digital 5.1 Surround tracks. The tracks are effective in setting the mood of the story and great combined with the music on this set. The songs themselves are not that great or memorable (nowhere near as memorable as “Heffalump or Woozle” from the original movie), but kids won’t care. English subtitles are also available for the Hearing Impaired.
This new release is basically the repackaged 2005 release with a new plush of Pooh dressed up as Tigger (the ears flip back to reveal Pooh’s ears). Winnie the Pooh is a success no matter the holiday so it’s no wonder that Disney is gearing up for Halloween with this re-release. He’s one of the best characters in Disney’s canon to for young children on Halloween (or at least until they’re old enough for Nightmare Before Christmas or The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad). The plush may not be a reason for fans that purchased the original release to double-dip, but it does make it available for a whole new generation of kids who were not around when the previous release came out. Overall, it’s an average film as far as the Pooh canon goes, but it does make up for some of its standard story with the charm we come to expect from Pooh and his friends.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?