Pooh's Heffalump Movie

on February 11, 2005 by Bridget Byrne
Updating classics to meld with the sensibilities of the current era is only forgivable when the modernization truly honors the source and adds to the enjoyment. "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" does neither. Purists have long be resigned to the Americanization of a very British bear, but on this outing, apart from the Sanders nameplate of his door and the occasional sidekick movement of his leg as he bumps along, the tubby chap manifests barely a shred of his original character as created by the cozy words of A. A. Milne and the charming line drawings of E. H. Shepard. Furthermore, he's only a sidebar to a story in which the Hundred Acre Wood's gang -- chiefly Roo, freed from his mother's pouch, although it was chiefly Piglet in the original story -- hunt down the Hefflalump, a character that was in truth a mere figment of their imaginations. But this is a Disney movie, so it has to feature something kids might want to buy, so two sort of elephants show up, a calf and mum, looking like a cross between a small eared Dumbo and Babar, and pale mauve in color, with touches of purple. Adding to this insult, the trumpeting animals have Brit voices -- the little one, nicknamed Lumpy, sounding as though he might grow up to be a used car salesman. This may designate them as foreign and therefore potentially suspicious until the let's-all-love-each-other ending, but why not honor elephant heritage and make the creatures sound African or Asian?

Overall, the traditional 2-D animation is sketchy and the color flat -- no deep woody British green here. Swept aside, along with the heart and soul of Pooh, are all the joy and wonder of beautifully drawn cartoons, replaced only by mundane commercialism, with no true Disney magic. Even the songs by Carly Simon are used perfunctorily, as though someone couldn't really remember why they had bothered to commission them. Voiced by Jim Cummings, John Fiedler, Nikita Hopkins, Kath Soucie, Ken Sansom, Peter Cullen, Brenda Blethyn and Kyle Stanger. Directed by Frank Nissen. Written by Brian Hohlfeld and Evan Spiliotopoulos. Produced by Jessica Koplos-Miller. A Buena Vista release. Animated. Rated G. Running time: 63 min

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