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With: Jim Cummings, Nikita Hopkins, Kyle Stanger, Brenda Blethyn
Written by: Brian Hohlfeld, Evan Spiliotopoulos, based on stories by A.A. Milne
Directed by: Frank Nissen
MPAA Rating: G
Running Time: 68
Date: 02/10/2005

Pooh's Heffalump Movie (2005)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Hop, Skip & Heffalump

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Fans of A.A. Milne's fantastically classic children's books know thatthere's no such thing as a heffalump. When Winnie-the-Pooh and his bestfriend Piglet go heffalump hunting in one of the stories, they track thenon-existent creature in circles, following their own tracks as theirfootprints pile on top of one another.

Now we have a new Winnie-the-Pooh movie in which a real heffalump shows itself. This is akin to making a sequel to Harvey in which a big animated rabbit turns up, or a sequel to Citizen Kane all about the history of Rosebud.

In the new film, Pooh and friends awaken to the fearsome cry of a heffalump. Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit and Eeyore organize one of their famous "expotitions," to find it. Little Roo wants to join them, but is sent home on account of his tender young age.

But the brash Roo (voiced by Nikita Hopkins) goes out on his own and meets the young heffalump of the title (voiced by Kyle Stanger). Called "Lumpy," the purple, elephant-like creature sports a sweet little British accent and a contagious laugh. He more than justifies his presence.

The colorfully animated movie then cuts back and forth between several story threads as our heroes get separated in the woods. Eeyore, carrying a huge pack of Helpful Things on his back, lags behind, while Pooh and Piglet trail off in the wrong direction. Roo and Lumpy become friends, but can Roo convince the rest of his friends that Lumpy means no harm?

The film manages a few nods to Milne's superb wordplay, as well as a handful of genuine belly laughs. When Rabbit warns Roo that their heffalump hunt will be fraught with danger, Tigger adds that, "You just can't argue with a word like 'fraught.'"

Pooh's Heffalump Movie also understands the way that children play, and how a couple of youngsters, without intending any malice, can destroy Rabbit's carefully tended garden.

Events drag only when Carly Simon's warbly songs kick in (Ms. Simon also contributed songs to the previous Pooh feature film, Piglet's Big Movie). Even a potentially deadly parable about prejudice comes across with amiable lightness.

Word on the street was that Disney's disappointing Home on the Range would be their last full-length, hand-drawn animated film. Thankfully, the gossip was wrong. Running a sprightly 68 minutes, Pooh's Heffalump Movie is one of the most delightful family friendly animated films in some time.

DVD Details: Disney's new DVD will surely be one of those treasured classics that gets played over and over again. Extras include song selection, an interactive hide 'n' seek game, a "Backstage Disney" featurette (7 minutes) and sneak peaks for other Disney (and Pooh) DVDs. DVD-Rom features include a 5-page printable coloring book and a recipe for rumpledoodles (oatmeal raisin cookies). Thankfully, these extras are accessile on any computer, not just PCs. The movie comes with a 5.1 English soundtrack and a French-dubbed track, and optional English subtitles. The disc is presented in Disney's Fast Play, which I really don't understand, because by selecting this feature, it takes longer to get to the movie (you go through all the previews and warnings and whatnot).

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