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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo
Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // G // March 9, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Matthew Millheiser | posted March 7, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie

Winnie the Pooh has had a long and involved history with the Walt Disney organization. Created in a series of short stories by author A. A. Milne (none of which I have read, so you won't find any pithy commentary here), Winnie the Pooh was first brought to life by the Disney animators as a 1966 short entitled Winnie The Pooh and the Honey Tree. Widely regarded at the time as the loveliest, most charming, and the most purely "Disney" creation in decades, Disney returned to the well twice more with two additional shorts: Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968) and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974). All three shorts were edited together with some new material and released as a feature film in 1977 entitled The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh . Since then, Pooh and Co. have become a cornerstone of the Disney marketing empire. Pooh merchandise is consistently at or near the top of Disney Store sales, generating millions in revenue for the House of Mouse. The stories and characters continue to appeal to youngsters, who soak up their bright, beautiful colors, simple characterizations, gentle humor, and storybook atmosphere.

The Pooh Machine has kept churning along with video material since the animated debut in 1966. A television series entitled The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ran for three seasons in the late 1980s, and continued with a series of television specials and direct-to-video releases, including A Very Merry Pooh Year, Boo to You Too, A Winnie The Pooh Thanksgiving, and dozens of more sing-alongs, educational videos, videogames, and CD-ROMs. In 2000, beloved supporting actor Tigger got a chance to headline his own movie in his feature-film debut, the aptly named The Tigger Movie. The film grossed a healthy $45 million, notable for a release that could have just as easily gone straight-to-video. Another feature film, Pooh's Heffalump Movie, is being prepped for theatrical release in 2005, continuing Winnie the Pooh's theatrical legacy.

Of course, the quality of such releases is up to the eye of the beholder, and some believe that there haven't been any Pooh-related releases of late that compare to the classic shorts of the 1960s and 70s. I'm a diehard Disney Geek, but the Pooh stories have never been favorites of mine. I liked... no, I loved the original The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh film when I was a kid. The characters were so sweet, so endearing, and lived in a world so bright, colorful, and inviting, that the film completely mesmerized me. Returning to the Pooh-verse as an adult, I appreciate the film for its sweet charms, but it doesn't have the appeal that crosses generational lines. Until my dying day, I will always be able to procure enjoyment out of various segments of Disneyana; Fantasia, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmations, Beauty and the Beast, Mulan... these can be continuously enjoyed throughout a lifetime. In comparison, Winnie the Pooh seems permanently mired in childhood. That's not to say Pooh-related stories aren't enjoyable; they just don't have the lasting resonance that most other Disney films retain.

That's about the best way to sum up Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo. It's a sweet little tale that's perfectly satisfying entertainment for children. The story, in which little Roo attempts to spread Easter-time cheer amongst his pals, even the anal-retentive Rabbit, is an enjoyable little confection. It provides breezy, sweet-natured entertainment that won't engage you at all if you're above the age of nine, but will keep the youngsters entertained throughout its scant sixty-four minute running time. Diehard Pooh fans of all ages will definitely enjoy it; animation fans will probably find it acceptable if forgettable animated product.

The DVD

Video:

Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo is presented in a sparkling, somewhat "family-friendly" widescreen transfer, retaining an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The transform has also been anamorphically enhanced for your widescreen-viewing bliss. This is a lovely transfer. The lush, vibrant computer-painted color scheme bursts with life. Sharpness is excellent, with noticeable fine detail. I noticed some aliasing and jaggies throughout the picture, especially on character outlines, but this was the only noticeable flaw. Contrasts are spot-on, compression noise is non-existent, and the picture is free from edge-enhancement and shimmering.

Audio:

The audio is presented in a subtle but effective Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, with French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks included as well. I was pretty much satisfied with the quality of the audio. The mix is not aggressive or enveloping, but it makes some nice use of the surrounds to enhance the sound field while using the occasional directional effect to punctuate the action. The fidelity of the orchestral score demonstrates fine depth, while the front channels sport agreeable spatiality. Dialog sounds clear and bright without hiss or distortion. While the overall audio is not especially aggressive, it does a very good job in presenting the movie in an only sparingly immersive environment.

Extras:

The extras on this disc are aimed at the youngsters, so those looking for more substantial fare will most likely come away disappointed. Then again, anyone looking for substantial fare in a direct-to-video Winnie the Pooh DVD might want to work on lowering his or her expectations a tad.

Sounds of Spring is an interactive program that presents three different settings in the Hundred Acre Wood. By highlighting different areas with your DVD remote, you can listen to various sounds of springtime, such as bees buzzing, Eeyore saying "Ayup...", a babbling stream, and the rattle of the Hunny jar. Decorating Rabbit's House is another interactive game in which you can help Rabbit decorate his house with various party favors. Disney's Art Project provides instructions on how to create a butterfly from the Hundred Acre Wood using a list of art supplies.

First Look At the Heffalump Movie is little more than a trailer for the upcoming film of the same name. First Look At The Magical World of Winnie the Pooh is also a trailer for two upcoming home video releases based on The Magical World of Winnie the Pooh. Finally, there are sneak peek trailers for Home on the Range, Brother Bear, Winnie The Pooh: Learning Adventures ABC's & 123's, The Magical World of Winnie The Pooh, Disney's Sing Along Songs, and JoJo's Circus "Under The Big Tent".

Final Thoughts

Perfectly enjoyable fare for youngsters and questionable for anyone else (other than hardcore Pooh fans), Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo definitely shows off a good-looking presentation of the material. The extras are for the young ones, and they will find some moderate enjoyment therein. I can't think of any reasons against purchasing this DVD if you have Pooh fans in your household, but animation buffs, Disney diehards, and the curious might just want to give it a rental first, if they are entertaining thoughts of viewing this DVD at all. Kids will love it, no doubt about that; for anybody else, your mileage may vary.
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