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|Kevin Krock, editor|
After a rather unimpressive theatrical run in early 2003, Disney's latest addition to their well-worn Winnie the Pooh franchise has rather quickly moved on to the home video market. Piglet's BIG Movie is a pleasant departure from the typical insipid sequel and direct-to-video fare, but the movie falls short of the previous Pooh-related theatrical release, The Tigger Movie (review).
The difference between the two movies seems to be a unique sense of humor, fun, and heart that is present in The Tigger Movie but just does not come across as well in Piglet's BIG Movie. Even though I enjoy The Tigger Movie a bit more, Piglet's is still a decent family movie that features an adequate story, several catchy new songs by Carly Simon and Brian Hohlfeld, and simple yet quite good animation provided by ToonDisney Japan. In fact, it has now become one of my 4-and-a-half-year-old son's most requested videos.
So, what is it all about? The movie starts with Piglet being told that he is just too small to help Pooh and the other characters with their elaborate honey gathering scheme, yet he becomes a totally unappreciated key to its success. Feeling a bit down, he quietly disappears into the Hundred Acre Wood to show that even a small Piglet can do helpful things.
Following a rather self-congratulatory celebration about the honey, Pooh and the rest of the gang find Piglet's scrapbook with his memories of the times he has spent with his friends, and Pooh and the others soon realize that Piglet is missing and set out to find him. During their search, they begin to realize that Piglet really has played big roles in many of their adventures, but they never really showed their appreciation. Ultimately, Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Rabbit get stuck in quite a predicament, and Piglet comes to the rescue, much to the grand appreciation of his friends.
In terms of bonus material, this disc is pretty light, which is not much of a surprise given the rather young target audience. There is a set-top game in which you search several locations for Piglet's lost drawings. When you collect them all, you are treated to a very short clip from the movie. It is not much, and my son got a bit bored with it rather quickly. There is also a brief video section that shows several Pigletisms (Piglet phrases relaying a sense of confidence to children) along with some companion video. It is only a few minutes long, and it did not really do anything for either my son or myself.
The one bonus feature that my son loves is the Sing-Along viewing mode. You can select this mode while you are watching the movie from the subtitle button on your remote, and whenever a song is playing, the lyrics are shown on the screen in a manner similar to the other Disney Sing-Along videos, with each word highlighted as it is sung. Since he is learning to read, he likes to see the words that are being sung, and it helps him to follow the song and understand what it is about. As a parent, I appreciate the ability to turn the mode on or off on the fly, unlike many of Disney's earlier DVDs, which made you exit the movie to change some settings.
Given that this movie was a theatrical release, I was hoping there would be some sort of developmental bonus material, but this title went from theater to home video in such a short time span, that it appears that addition bonus material was never intended.
As a humorous but related side note, after watching this disc for the first time, my son asked me to put on the making of because he wanted to see how they made the movie. While my son is probably a bit of an exception when it comes to things like 4-and-a-half-year-olds that enjoy watching behind-the-scenes bonus material, I had to tell him that there was no making of documentary on this disc, unlike many of the movies in our home DVD collection. His rather matter-of-fact response was for me to, just get the second disc with the bonus stuff on it. But after showing him that there was only one disc in the box, he rather dejectedly replied, Oh why not? Without getting into the boring-daddy-details of Disney home video economics, I explained that there simply was no other disc, and if he wanted to watch bonus stuff, we'd have to pick another DVD.
Fortunately, it was close enough to his bedtime that he gave up on pushing for the missing Piglet bonus material and grudgingly opted for a bath and story. Kindergartners are a fickle crowd, but it shows that even some of Disney's younger viewers are interested in regularly seeing how their favorite characters are brought to life.
The Video, Audio and Interface
The video, audio, and interface on this disc are very similar to those recently reviewed for the Jungle Book 2 (review) DVD or any DVD of a recent Disney theatrical release. The audio and interface are right in line with my expectations, but they are not particularly outstanding or impressive.
The anamorphic widescreen video transfer on Piglet's is very clean, vibrant, and colorful, but I did notice an odd problem that may or may not affect you. When my DVD player digitally converts the anamorphic image to the letterboxed image for my standard size television, the darker lines on the characters exhibit a slight but visible digital compression blurring, called anti-aliasing. I have not seen this problem with most other anamorphic DVD transfers, but it may be more obvious on this disc because of the simple and sharp character animation lines.
In order to check to see if the problem was with the transfer itself, I directly viewed the anamorphic image, and the picture looks perfect with the exception that it is horizontally compressed. Therefore, the digital artifacts may simply be the result of my player being several years old. Fortunately, the problem is not pronounced enough to distract most viewers, especially children. For all intents and purposes, this disc will look and sound good on just about any home video system, and the interface is nicely and simply designed for young viewers.
The Final Evaluation
Piglet's BIG Movie is cute enough by itself that most children and Pooh fans will enjoy it, and the DVD presents the movie quite nicely. The animation is respectable and stays true to the classic Disney Winnie the Pooh style, and if you are familiar with The Tigger Movie, then you can expect the same animation quality.
The most significant shortfall of this DVD is simply the decided lack of bonus material, which lowers its value relative to other bonus-heavy Disney DVDs in the same price range. While this disc may not be for everyone or may not be a must-have disc for your collection, fans unconcerned with gobs of bonus material, and parents simply looking for a good children's or family movie should take a look at this disc. Bonus material-loving families should go rent it for a movie night, then save their pennies for Fall 2003, when Disney is scheduled to release some major titles on DVD.
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