I wasn't aware that the Disney Channel was carrying a new animated series based on the venerable A. A. Milne character Winnie-the-Pooh called, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, and judging by Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie, I probably won't be tuning in to it in the foreseeable future, either. It's not that Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie is a terrible film. It's not; it's sweet enough, I suppose, and very young children might enjoy it once. But I wasn't fond of the melding of Winnie-the-Pooh and a mystery-solving angle straight out of Scooby-Doo, nor did I care for the conspicuous absence of Christopher Robin.
In Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie, Tigger, Pooh Bear and their new friend Darby have a mission to complete. Roo and Lumpy the Heffalump have found Santa's magic bag, where he carries all of his toys. They've also found Holly, a baby reindeer who set off to find Santa's bag and who became entangled in some brush, until Roo and Lumpy get help from the others to set her free. Now, the "Super Sleuthers," as they're called, have to find their way back to the North Pole (Holly is a little confused as to how to get there) and return's Santa's magic bag before he cancels Christmas.
Running a mere 44 minutes, Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie is so paper thin in its plot that I can't imagine too many adults actively getting into the film. This is strictly fodder for the toddler set. Make no mistake, though; Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie is nicely animated (with Pooh Bear looking pretty good in 3D CGI), with the typical gloss and confidence associated with a high-end Disney product.
But Winnie-the-Pooh just isn't Pooh with Christopher Robin, the calm, guiding force for that "silly old bear," and his absence is felt here in Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie. Why have a character like Darby (unless, of course, your aim is to skew the series towards young girls) when you already have Christopher Robin, who could easily have been fitted into this movie? Despite what I'm sure was Disney's heavily researched decision to go with a new girl character here, my kids kept asking when Christopher Robin was going to show up. Forever a team, Winnie and Christopher belong together; this little experiment didn't work.
As well, I didn't care for the mild retread of the Scooby-Doo mystery-solving framework (used as well in the similar Mickey Mouse Clubhouse series) grafted onto Pooh Bear. For me at least, part of the enormous appeal of the Disney Hundred Acre Woods adventures was the relative sedate, insular calmness of the stories. The whole point was that Pooh Bear existed in this storybook land, and his seemingly prosaic adventures were all the more funny because he was in actuality a stuffed bear (watch the classic Disney short, Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, and see the comedy in watching the stuffed bear repeatedly hitting the tree limbs as he falls harmlessly to the ground). Why, then, does Pooh need to solve mysteries with Tigger? It's a superfluous addition to the mythology that doesn't mesh with the characters at all, and worse yet, at least in Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie, Pooh is largely shunted off to the side; he barely has any lines to say, and he's rarely front and center in the groupings (check out the billing in the title and you'll get an indication of what's going on here).
The anamorphically enhanced, 1.78:1 widescreen video image for Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie is digital perfection. Colors are vibrant and the picture is super-sharp.
The Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround stereo mix is more than enough audio for this film, with a crystalline clarity to the dialogue and the fairly lame songs. There are French and Spanish stereo tracks as well, as well as subtitles.
Two bonus episodes of the My Friends Tigger & Pooh are included - Symphony for a Rabbit and Tigger Goes Snowflaky - as well as a DVD game, 100 Acre Wood Downhill Game that your child might find amusing.
It just isn't Winnie-the-Pooh without Christopher Robin - as my own children confirmed when they kept asking where he was in Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie. And if I want a mystery, I'll tune into Scooby-Doo. Still, Disney's My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Sleuth Christmas Movie is gentle enough, and sweet, and if your child is already a fan of the series, I suppose they'll enjoy the film just fine. For you, a purchase is warranted. But the uninitiated should rent first, to see if this variation of Pooh Bear is for them.
Paul Mavis is an internationally published film and television historian, a member of the Online Film Critics Society, and the author of The Espionage Filmography.