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Toon Talk: Pooh's Heffalump Movie
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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
Roo's Big Movie
Following The Tigger Movie and Piglet's Big Movie (and seemingly working their way through each of the cast of characters from the Winnie the Pooh universe with each successive theatrical release), Disney has now unveiled the awkwardly titled Pooh's Heffalump Movie. Despite its title, the new film doesn't so much focus on the honey-pilfering pachyderms, as originally seen in their own "Pink Elephants on Paradeâ€?-inspired dream sequence in the classic short Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, as on the littlest member of the Hundred Acre Wood gang, Roo.
Strange trumpeting noises awakening them, Pooh and friends find large, round footprints in the ground and determine that their peaceful homes are being invaded by the heinous Heffalumps, and set out to capture them on their home turf, Heffalump Hollow. Saying he's too young, they leave Roo behind, but he sets out on his own anyway, determined to prove himself "grown upâ€?. He does indeed find a Heffalump, or more accurately, a Heffalump finds him ... a young one at that, about the same age as Roo, (unimaginatively) named Lumpy. The two become fast friends, despite their respective elders' warnings of the "monstersâ€? that live on the opposite sides of the fence dividing the Hundred Acre Wood from Heffalump Hollow. As could be expected, it falls to Roo and Lumpy to show the others the downfalls of judging others just because they are "differentâ€?.
With morals such as these as simply drawn as the animation, Heffalump doesn't aim any higher then any of the other previous Pooh movies, which further proves (along with their brief running times) that these films' theatrical releases aren't entirely justified; there isn't much differentiating them from the direct-to-video Pooh product the studio persistently cranks out every year. But, with this continuing trend that has also included such fare as Teacher's Pet and The Jungle Book 2, this situation is apparently a fact of life nowadays.
One thing that does set these movies apart from their video kin is the songwriting talent: as with Piglet's Big Movie, Oscar- and Grammy-winner Carly Simon provides a fresh batch of new songs, with only one real standout, the lullaby "Little Mr. Rooâ€?. Also returning is the talented voice cast, once again led by multi-tasker Jim Cummings (as both Pooh and Tigger), John Fiedler (who has voiced Piglet from day one), Ken Sansom (whose Rabbit shtick is getting a bit, ahem, long in the tooth), Kath Soucie (as reassuringly motherly as always as Kanga) and Nikita Hopkins, once again (as in The Tigger Movie) stealing the show as Roo. Joining the cast as the Heffalump family is Oscar nominee Brenda Blethyn (Little Voice) as the Mama and young Kyle Stanger as Lumpy, who's little British boy voice makes him instantly endearing.