on January 26, 2012
At first, I was uncertain about "Pooh's Heffalump Movie." I was concerned about "corporate Disney's" EXPLOTAITIVE (read: $$$ for Disney) taking of liberties with A. A. Milne's original theme and vision, of "Whimsical Life in the 100 Acre Wood," an epic allegory suitable for children (first and foremost!), but ALSO with a lot of homespun wisdom for "grownup kids" to appreciate too; with its bevy of intricately-well-drawn characters, all of whom were "real" imaginary (stuffed animal) friends of the VERY REAL son of Mr. Milne, namely Christopher Robin Milne, beginning when he was about 6 years old and onwards. These "Friends of Christopher and the 100 Acre Wood" had always been constant, unchanging, ever since the first (of two) Winnie-the-Pooh books was published in London, the original (red, hard-cover book) in 1926, then the second one in 1928 (both of which have never, NOT ONCE, been out of print to this VERY day!), both rife with wonder and magical adventures penned in that inimitable, laugh-out-loud though STRATEGICALLY understated (read: UNPARALLELED BEST-of-BRITISH "HUMOUR!") style unequaled by the overwhelmingly talented Mr. Milne; and the rest (they say) is "History" - written LARGE and ENORMOUSLY SUCCESSFUL (read: economically so), even well within Milne's own life and, for better AND WORSE - that of his eponymous and only child Christopher Robin and Christopher's "creatively WELL-PERSONIFIED buddies": There's Winnie the Pooh (of course, Our Central Hero); Piglet (Pooh's Best Friend and Constant Companion in Adventure); Christopher Robin (obviously; the ONLY HUMAN, and quite often - Our Reliable "Savior" - come the denouement of MANY [if not MOST] of Winnie-the-Pooh's stories, both in Volume 1 and then - "House at Pooh Corner," aka Volume 2); and all the rest of the merry bunch - Rabbit (logical, though a "bit" manic/obsessive/nervous-to-say-the-least); Kanga (Every Loving Mother's "Every Mom"); Roo (Kanga's Beloved Son; happy and carefree); Eeyore (poor dear fellow; if there was ever a case for "animal psychiatry and/or psychology," Eeyore is MOST UNEQUIVOCALLY - The DEFINITIVE, Classically Original CLINICALLY-DEPRESSED DONKEY!); Tigger ("bouncy, trouncy, bouncy, trouncy, fun fun fun fun fun! Perhaps though, Not Ivy League's next "scholarship-ready shoe-in" - yuk yuk yuk! And ALL the BETTER for THAT, eh? he he he ...); and then, there's good old Owl ("wise" or rather, "what wisdom LACKS!" - A. A. Milne's IRONIC commentary anthropomorphically "personified" on the subject - albeit "self knowledge" never quite clear, let alone accessible, unto Owl himself [naturally! "Whoooooooooo ... Me?"]).
But I was wrong. Cynical, stupid and wrong. Always gunning for the "money angle." And dead wrong - This movie is a GEM! Because: Pooh fans everywhere are NOT a cynical bunch; just "POOH-SMART," which is to say - SMART IN WAYS UNFAMILIAR TO *M*O*S*T* HUMAN BEINGS.
"Lumpy," the star heffalump in our movie under review here, is a deeply-British-accented, albeit QUINTESSENTIALLY LOVEABLE elephantine "pup," who lives "just over the fence" from the 100 Acre Wood. One day Roo sets out, after hearing a strange trumpeting noise in the night (said noise belonging to, as we later learn, "Mrs. Heffalump," Lumpy's "mum;" whilst Pooh, Rabbit, Piglet and Tigger are all "a-scurry" worried about phantom heffalump fears, preparing traps, ambushes, and all sorts of "strategies gone agley to rid the world of 'the Evil heffalump SCOURGE'" [read: Homeland Security]; but Roo - the child WITHOUT prejudices, sans adult fears, without a shred of anger, rage nor foolish biases - playfully and fearlessly "crosses the fence," and in so doing, discovers a new world, and a new and AWESOME friend (with a built-in-"trunk;" so he's ALWAYS ready to tromp-travel "the life fantastic") - and ergo Lumpy turns out to become: Roo's EXOTIC Best Friend in the WORLD *BEYOND* - the insular 100-Acre "Wood Trap."
I won't spoil the fun further, except to add what makes this animated feature EXTRA DELIGHTFUL: Marvelously infectious music and SINGABLE songs with Golden-tonsiled, Mega-Famous Carly Simon at the helm (at first I thought it was the dulcet-toned Anne Murray; wrong again, twas I, though Murray would have turned in a brilliant performance too!) backed by a remarkably talented children's chorale; lyrically engaging pieces; melodically catchy sing-a-longs, and altogether inspired numbers! The movie is worth enjoying for its MAGNIFICENT MUSICAL accompaniments alone!
The animation here is just fine. Quality, not flawless, but WAY GOOD ENOUGH! (Often I refer back to this famous quote by one of my all-time renowned philosophic geniuses, whose name I'll protect for reasons of privacy preferred: "Practice makes Perfect, as All Practice Should, Unless THE PERFECT BECOMES: The ENEMY, of The Good!") "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" employs the classic two-dimensional animation technology (immortalized by Disney's "Fantasia," amongst DOZENS of other Disney-defined classics including "Beauty and the Beast," "Lion King," "Aladdin," "Mulan," "The Princess and the Frog" and MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE ..., which I find divinely refreshing in the BEST "old fashioned" fashion, amidst Post-Post-Post-Post-Modren (sp. intentional - "Modren" - cf. artist-light-years-ahead-of-his-age, "Mr. Dennis DeYoung") Day's "Race to 3D Imagery" which, often enough ATTEMPTS to subjugate story (read: lack thereof] by cloying special fx. There are a handful of PRIME Exceptional EXCEPTIONS - where "The Story" is ENHANCED by "Avant-garde Technology;" such as - The ineffable James Cameron's Incomparable Feat of Cinematic Magickal Genius, EVERY FRAME IN KEEPING WITH THE "POOH WHIMSICAL, PHILOSOPHY OF INTEGRITY" - 2009's Best Film and arguably, BEST FILM OF THE THIRD MILLENNIUM A.D. THUS FAR: "Avatar." But "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" is naturally, a "little bit different," by budget and by intention at a minimum, so it is BEST *NOT* to compare it to MEGA-BUDGET box-office cinema - except by reference to "the pursuit of integral quality and virtues!" Hence ...
At a modest Hour and 8 minutes in Length, this Gorgeous Little Animated Feature is JUST LONG ENOUGH TO *WILLINGLY* *SUSPEND* *YOUR* (natural, if anything similar to my own) *DISBELIEF*, Intelligent Cineaste, yet without snapping said disbelief in twain, and JUST *SHORT* ENOUGH - not to "jump the shark," so to speak. In summary, thanks to Disney, I can now, all cynicism assuaged, confidently call out to All Winnie the Pooh Aficionados: LONG LIVE HEFFALUMPS!
Rent or buy "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" today. Children and their Parents ALIKE - will *NOT* be disappointed - but GLADLY embrace "heffalumps" as "the new critters on the block" in that ever-so-happy, ever-so-non-judgmental, WONDROUS, UNPREJUDICED WORLD of A.A. Milne, whom DOUBTLESS, is NOT "rolling in his grave," but APPLAUDING HIS VISION AS *KEENLY* *UNDERSTOOD* *HERE*, and *EXTENDED* and *EMBRACED*, nay *E*N*L*A*R*G*E*D* (well, DEFINITELY SO - and on MULTIPLE LEVELS) by this EXPANSION OF HIS CREATIVE SPIRIT! "AMEN" to that with a LOUD, STENTORIAN BLAST from a "HEFFALUMPIAN TRUNK-TRUMPETING ANTHEM!" These New Friends of Pooh (Thanks, ROO!), I daresay, Dearest Friends of Christopher Robin and "His" World (which is - MORE ACCURATELY - *O*U*R* *W*H*I*M*S*I*C*A*L* *W*O*R*L*D* - where all prejudices dissolve - and TRUE FRIENDSHIP is WHAT THESE ENCHANTING TALES ARE *A*L*L* ABOUT [read: wisdom speak]); I DO DARESAY: Lumpy, Momma Heffalump, and Who Knows? (Maybe WOOZLES next!) - are HERE ... ONE, COME ALL ... FOR THE ETERNAL TODAY ... *S*T*A*Y*!
And as Winnie the Pooh is wont to exclaim, "HOORAY! HOORAY! HOORAY!" But Wise Piglet has the Final Words: "H-h-heffalumps ... r-r-ROCK!" I think so too. Here's a jewel for the 21st Century, as A. A. Milne would've envisioned as much.