We gave it a C
Walt Disney latched on to Winnie the Pooh’s honey pots as renewable resources back in 1961, when he bought the rights to A.A. Milne’s 1920s children’s books featuring a phlegmatic British teddy bear and his excitable friends. Since then, the studio has run a tidy sideline in Pooh featurettes and television shows, of which The Tigger Movie is the first full-length production to fill the screen. (Children who saw the last short, ”Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore,” in theaters in 1983 are now strapping men and women who will instantly recognize the endomorphic similarities between Winnie and ”King of the Hill”’s phlegmatic Texan cub, Bobby.)
The feature debut of young writer-director Jun Falkenstein, this gentle, disposable story reunites all the regulars in the Hundred Acre Wood — Pooh and Piglet, Kanga and Roo, Rabbit and Eeyore and Owl. But for all the classic touches, including songs by Disney veterans Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman (”Mary Poppins”) and animation with the old-fashioned look of the original book illustrations by E.H. Shepard, ”The Tigger Movie” is a conflicted entertainment, compromised by trying too hard to impress the restless, self-referential adults in the audience.
It’s trendy enough when Tigger, existentially lonely and searching for relatives who look and bounce like him, comes to realize (as many who left home to work at Disney and go into psychotherapy probably have) that FRIENDS are his true family. But when jokey visual references to adult pop culture flash by while the tiger sings of self-actualization (at one point he’s posed like Marilyn Monroe, skirt billowing à la ”The Seven Year Itch”), ”The Tigger Movie” loses its way. Pooh on a ”Tigger” that would rather party with the hip, grown-up audience for ”Aladdin” or ”Toy Story” than do the hard work of charming children the antique way, on their own exacting terms.