Western Animation: Pooh's Grand Adventure

"Once, upon the last day of a golden summer, there was a boy... and a bear. The boy, who we shall meet in a moment, was called Christopher Robin. The bear was called Winnie the Pooh. And together, they had many grand adventures in a remarkable place called the Hundred Acre Wood. But the grandest and most extraordinary of all those adventures was still to begin..."
Opening Narration

Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin, in some countries titled Winnie-the-Pooh's Most Grand Adventure, is a 1997 direct-to-video film about Pooh and company searching for Christopher Robin.

Christopher Robin spends the "last day of a golden summer" with his best friend, Winnie the Pooh, all the while keeping a secret from him. He leaves Pooh with some cryptic advice: "You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think... Even when we're apart, I'll always be with you."

When Pooh wakes the next day (on the first day of autumn) he discovers a note from Christopher Robin attached to a pot of honey. Pooh collects the gang and they all go to Owl to decipher the message, which had been splattered with honey and rendered illegible. Owl informs them that Christopher Robin has been taken to a horrible place called the Skull by the monstrous Skullasaurus. Owl equips the gang with a map and they set off on a treacherous quest to save their friend. The gang ends up facing numerous horrors and perils in the outside world beyond the sanctuary of the Hundred Acre Wood - not just from around them, but even from within...

As you might guess from the image on the right, Pooh's Grand Adventure is considerably more solemn and Darker and Edgier than past stories in the franchise note , and a Big Damn Movie to boot. Though criticized for its darker tone, it's worth noting as the only Direct-to-Video Pooh movie that genuinely tries to have a real plot with heavy Character Development, as opposed to a quick cash-in, and is quite heavy on its themes regarding its Arc Words and Character Development. It's also the first Pooh story to feature the apparent ''death'' of a character, and the cast's reactions to it.

The Skull setting, as well as the movie's main theme, would later be adapted nearly a decade later into Kingdom Hearts II.

Pooh's Grand Adventure provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Kanga, Roo, and Gopher are absent from this film; the latter's exclusion is more jarring considering his major role as the Sixth Ranger in The New Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh.
  • Arc Words:
    • Christopher Robin: "You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
    • "Forever (and ever)."
  • Aside Glance: Many of the characters look at the fourth wall at several points (such as Rabbit being annoyed when Pooh can't read Christopher Robin's note).
  • Award Bait Song: "Wherever You Are," although sung by Pooh in the movie, gets its Award Baity remix over the end credits performed Barry Coffing & Vonda Shepard.
  • Balloonacy: Not balloons, but apparently Piglet and Pooh can be carried through the air supported by a handful of butterflies.
  • Big Bad: The unseen Skullasaurus, who pursues the group throughout the film or so it seems.
  • Big Damn Movie: Oh yes! A grand adventure it is, one whose stakes and emotional power have yet to be matched by Pooh fiction to date.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Surprisingly, yes, this movie has one. Even though the friends have found Christopher Robin and faced their flaws head on, Christopher Robin still won't be able to come and see them as much. But it's okay, since Pooh knows he always has Christopher in his heart, and they truly will always be together, forever and ever.
  • Break the Cutie: Much like how Christopher Robin is being forced to grow up, the main group faces some challenges you wouldn't expect innocent Winnie the Pooh characters to face, and at the end of the second act they are broken by them. No one gets this worse than Pooh, who has a heartbreaking song lamenting how bad things have gotten for him without Christopher.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Once he takes charge, Rabbit orders the group to follow the map to the letter, singing a whole song about how they should trust the map, not their instincts. It's implied that Rabbit's lack of self-confidence has him using the map as a crutch to make himself feel better, since he has no idea which way he's leading the group.
  • Chain of People: Let's see... Eeyore bites a root, Rabbit grabs his tail with one hand and Piglet's feet with the other, Piglet holds Pooh, and Pooh saves Tigger. They all dangle off the edge of a cliff until Eeyore says "ouch."
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover for the VHS and DVD don't convey that this is a Darker and Edgier film. The back covers, on the other hand, feature artwork that's considerably more solemn (see the page image) and foreboding (the gang of friends looking into the distance), more appropriate to the film's tone.
  • Darker and Edgier: One of the biggest criticisms of the film was the fact that it was indeed a darker and edgier take on Winnie the Pooh and friends, with some parts verging on downright scary. Furthermore, it was an absolute Tear Jerker at some parts, even for a Disney film.
    • This is foreshadowed in the prologue of the movie, when the narrator states that their biggest adventure was about to begin. We see a butterfly following a peaceful, meandering stream, only for the butterfly to react in shock when it sees the stream flow into a darker, scarier part of the river.
  • Darkest Hour: The end of the second act. Owl's map is useless, Rabbit breaks down and admits they have been lost for hours, and the group realizes they are hopeless without Christopher Robin. To hammer it home, Pooh's faith in Christopher is shaken and nearly torn down.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Eeyore has his moments.
    "End of the road... nothing to do... and no hope of things getting better. [Beat] Sounds like Saturday night at my house."
    • Pooh has a few moments too, though that may be due more to his innocent nature.
  • Death Seeker: Yes, you read that right. Alarmingly, Tigger is willing to be abandoned to a fate of falling to his death after losing faith in his bouncing abilities. Luckily, his friends' valor in trying to save him brings him back.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Naturally. Owl's song, "Adventure is a Wonderful Thing", in which he sings of the horrors awaiting the gang on their journey with gusto. Later, Rabbit's "If It Says So" has tinges of this, as massive signs begin to pop up everywhere during the song.
  • Disney Death: Crossed with Dramatic Irony: the audience knows Pooh's alive, but Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, and Eeyore don't.
  • Dissonant Serenity: When the group first hears the Skullosaurus approaching, Piglet smiles nervously and simply asks "What was that?"
  • Due to the Dead: When Pooh is believed to have been killed, the other four rise to the challenge and face their flaws that had previously crippled them head-on to reach Christopher Robin in Pooh's name.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: While it's a bittersweet ending, the cast still goes to hell and back to earn the "sweet" part of the bittersweet ending.
  • The Eeyore: Obviously. "Not much of a house. Just right for not much of a donkey."
    • "It isn't mine. Then again, few things are."
    • "Thanks for noticin'."
  • End of an Age: The basis for the entire plot is that Christopher Robin won't be able to spend as much time in the Hundred Acre Wood anymore, since he's started school. He may not even get to see Pooh every day anymore either.
  • End of Series Awareness: The characters waving farewell to each other at the end of the film as they return home feel rather cathartic, almost as if they're waving goodbye to the audience after taking such a journey with them.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    Rabbit: "The Upside-Down Rock. If you've made it this far, you're (faltering) where... Monsters... Are."
  • Fatal Flaw: Piglet's crippling fear, Tigger's overconfident strength, Rabbit's by-the-book knowledge, and Pooh's faith in Christopher Robin are all exposed, picked apart, and exploited (except for Eeyore). It's the first Winnie the Pooh movie that could also double as a convincing character study.
  • Flat "What.": When Owl dramatically announces that Christopher Robin has gone to Skull, Pooh has a very flat, unimpressed "Skull??" for him.
  • Fleeting Demographic Rule: The storyline is reused in the 2011 movie Winnie-the-Pooh. Once again, Owl misreads a note Christopher Roblin left while he's at school, and assumes he's been kidnapped by a fantastical monster. This time it's mistaking "be back soon" for "The Backson." He even sings another acid trip song about it as he sends the others on their journey.
  • Foreshadowing: Surprisingly, for a Direct-to-Video Movie, there is a small amount of it. The most obvious examples can be found in Fatal Flaw above, but a more subtle one can be found while the troupe are traveling through Skull: at one point, they encounter a giant wall of crystals that distorts Pooh's image so much that they mistake it for the Skullosaurus, hinting at the monster's true nature (its hellish call is actually Pooh's stomach growling) and that everything isn't quite as it seems.
  • Genre Blind: The main gang, as illustrated by this quotation:
    Pooh: Maybe we should... split up?
  • Genre Savvy: Owl, to the point that he gets his own song about his very genre savvy ideas of Adventure.
    Owl: [As he's waving goodbye to the gang] I salute you! And for those of you doomed to never return, I salute you twice!
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress:
    • When the log Tigger is bouncing on collapses, he has time to look at the audience in horror as his tail starts to fall first, then his body, then finally his head. Turns into a Mind Screw when you consider that, later in that very scene, another log collapses beneath him, and gravity affects him the way it would in the real world: immediately.
    • When Eeyore lets go of the root preventing the gang from falling into a pit, he has time to say, "I said, 'Ouch'." before gravity comes into play.
    • Subverted during Tigger's bounce to end all bounces. He sends himself flying up into the air but falls just short of his goal. He falls a few feet out of the frame... only to suddenly reappear onscreen "swimming" upwards through the air to make the last few feet to his goal.
  • Growling Gut: The terrifying roars of the Skullosaurus turn out to be nothing more than Pooh's "rumbly tumbly". He hadn't eaten any of the honey Christopher Robin gave him.
  • Heroic BSOD: See Fatal Flaw above. This trope is evoked when they realize they simply don't have what it takes. For the time being.
  • It Was with You All Along: The ending of the movie reveals that everything the cast had searched for, they had all along.
    • Piglet was always a very brave little guy, proven by when he immediately threw himself off a cliff to rescue Pooh and Tigger.
    • Rabbit was always very smart, and never needed a map to effectively lead the group.
    • Tigger always was extremely strong, if not physically then emotionally.
    • And Pooh learns that Christopher Robin was and will always be with him in his heart.
    • Eeyore sums it up best.
    Eeyore: Didn't need to come all the way out here to find it. Always had it with us all along.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Arguably Owl, as the movie becomes Darker and Edgier during his first scene. Also counts as a Meta Example, as it was his map and sway over the group's imagination that made the events and locations they encounter so scary in the first place. Once Christopher Robin is found, the group discovers to their shock that Skull and the rest of the Great Unknown are no scarier than the rest of the Hundred Acre Wood.
  • The Leader: Pooh is initially this, as he is the one who first brings the team together. However, being a bear of very little brain, Rabbit takes over after he gets them nowhere during the first Skullosaurus "attack". Eventually Rabbit gives up his title after making a ton of bad choices and getting them lost. Then Pooh briefly starts making the decisions, and Rabbit finally becomes an accomplished leader when trying to get to the Eye of Skull. It seems that while Pooh has some leadership abilities, Rabbit when on top of his game is the best one to lead the group.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Played straight, to increase the search area.
  • My Greatest Failure: Tigger being unable to bounce out of the gorge, and subsequently bringing his friends down with him; Piglet being unable to save himself from a swarm of butterflies; and Rabbit getting the group lost.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Pooh and Christopher Robin's discussion about doing "nothing" is reprised for the opening of this film.
    • Tigger tears into some honey, but remembers from The Blustery Day that "Tiggers don't like hunny!"
    • The end of the film hearkens back to more classic dialogue from the two's farewell in both the original books and the epilogue of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
  • The '90s: Mostly unseen, but "Wherever You Are" does get a '90s pop ballad remix during the end credits (which is far more tearjerking and heart-wrenching than you'd expect to be featured in the credits for a DTV Pooh movie).
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Lampshaded when Tigger tries to comfort Piglet with this cheery exchange:
    Tigger: Don't worry, Piglet ol' pal. There's no difference between falling a thousand feet to the jagged rocks below and tumbling out of bed.
    Piglet: Oh. Really?
    ''Piglet's smile droops; he covers his eyes again.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: None of the characters ever actually see the Skullosaurus (because it doesn't exist), but that's part of what makes it so scary to them. In particular, the first encounter with the beast has the group look up in horror as the roars of the Skullasaurus' roars echo through the woods they just emerged from, initially completely devoid of score.
  • Not So Stoic: Eeyore spends most of the film being... well, the Eeyore, but he is genuinely horrified when Piglet leaps to save Pooh from falling into the gorge.
  • Oh Crap!: Many examples, but probably the biggest example is Eeyore after realizing he just let go and caused them all to plummet into the gorge.
  • OOC Is Serious Business:
    • When Pooh is about to plummet into the gorge with Tigger, Piglet immediately leaps into peril to save him without a moment's hesitation, only a completely serious and grave expression on his face. Eeyore and Rabbit follow suit, completely shocked and terrified by Piglet's act of bravery.
    • The group as a whole is this when they realize they don't have what it takes to find Christopher, let alone go home.
      Tigger: Let's face it. Without Christopher Robin, we don't stand a chance of finding Christopher Robin.
  • Once More with Clarity: After finding Christopher Robin, the gang realize that everything was only as scary as it was because they believed it to be, and the end musical number shows that the gorge was a tiny dip and the carnivorous plants were merely thorny.
  • Out of Focus: Eeyore does not have a character arc like the other four members of the group, and doesn't contribute much, but there's no way someone as popular as he is wouldn't be in the movie. He does provide some of the film's funniest moments regardless.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The gang needlessly went on an epic quest to save Christopher Robin just because some honey blurred the note he left. Owl's rather sub-par spelling skills don't help matters.
  • Reality Ensues: The grand adventure doesn't stop Christopher Robin from having to go to school and not see them as much anymore.
    • Eeyore nails it on the head when the gang hesitates to enter Skull, citing that they don't know what they'll find.
    (after hearing the Skullasaurus roar again)
    Eeyore: But we know what's gonna find us!
  • Red Herring: When the gang is dangling from the cliff, Eeyore's tail (which Rabbit and by extension the other four are holding onto) begins to stretch, and it looks like the classic gag of Eeyore losing his tail will send the gang hurtling down. Instead, Eeyore, having been holding on by biting a root, opens his mouth and clarifies to Tigger that he said "Ouch". Then they fall.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Quite a few.
    • Pooh's honey pot is a physical representation of his initial belief that he is apart from Christopher Robin completely when they are not physically together. He clings to it throughout the movie, and even sadly looks into his reflection in the honey inside during "Wherever You Are". When he finally realizes that Christopher is always with him, he takes one last look into the pot to realize the truth, and ultimately abandons the pot forever when Christopher Robin rescues him from the pit.
    • The map is a representation of Rabbit's lack of confidence in his own mind. He orders the gang to follow it and him without question. He views it as a crutch to lean on so he doesn't have to try to come up with something on his own. At the end of his song about the map, the thing ends up ripping in half and becomes more and more useless until the gang reaches the Eye of Skull. Tattered and crumpled, Rabbit finally realizes it's useless and discards it, finally using his own brain to lead the team.
    • Piglet climbing the tree at the film's beginning represents his own demeanor. Climbing the stories-high tree proves that Piglet is capable of great acts of bravery, but when one little branch he's on snaps, he completely crumples. Once he gets the confidence boost he needs, he overcomes his fears and climbs the tree at the film's end with no problem.
    • Tigger's tail apparently not giving him enough bounce to grab Piglet in the opening scenes symbolizes his inner self-doubt about his abilities ultimately causing him to shut down. Later, in the gorge, this is exactly what happens: Tigger loses faith in his tail and ends up completely shutting down.
    • Christopher Robin tenderly places two fireflies into a sleepy Pooh's hands, and the two seem to become one - representing how the two are always together.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Pooh's Disney Death is what convinces the others to finally rise above their insecurities and make the final push to save Christopher Robin.
  • Sanity Slippage: Played for Laughs when discussed by Tigger. Piglet offers to be Pooh's new "best-best-friend" in the wake of Christopher Robin's absence. Pooh declines, since only he and Christopher Robin can do "nothing." Tigger muses to Eeyore that Pooh's apparently losing what little brain he had.
  • Series Fauxnale: The movie could easily serve as the true end to Disney's Winnie the Pooh fiction. It tackles the ramifications of the ending of the original books head on, having Pooh and Christopher Robin make peace with the fact that they'll always be together, and the cast overcoming their major flaws they're always portrayed with. While of course the franchise continued, this film could easily serve as the endgame of the stories of the Hundred Acre Wood.
  • Tempting Fate: An extremely painful example, one you wouldn't expect to see in a Winnie the Pooh film.
    Pooh: I wanna call your name forever/And you will always answer forever/And both of us will be/Forever you and me/Forever and ever.
  • The Quest: Played straight; they even have a parchment map!
  • The Team:
  • Those Two Guys: A rather touching, if quiet example with Piglet and Eeyore, mostly during the latter parts of the film.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Rabbit is more of a control freak than a jerk in this film, but he softens considerably after he breaks down once he gets the group lost. No better shown when he gives the map to a sleeping, hurt Pooh to keep warm in the middle of the night.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Skull. It is completely terrifying and eerie, and the lair of the Skullosaurus, which has been hunting the group the entire film.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Tigger and Rabbit as usual. In this film they come to rely on each other's leadership and strength, even after their typical banter and repartee.
  • Walk Into Camera Obstruction: Twice. With Eeyore, when he's falling after a bridge he was walking on collapses. And again with Tigger where he and Eeyore run into Rabbit.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Owl seems to think he's making a map for a dark, epic fantasy film, not a Winnie the Pooh film. This is a part of his Knight of Cerebus status; it's his map and romantic ideas of adventure that make the journey so dark, when nothing is really as scary as it seems. And even then, his map is wildly inaccurate to the world he was trying to map out.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: See Arc Words above.

I've hung a wish on every star
I can only dream of you.
And wonder if you're dreaming too..