Western Animation: Pooh's Grand Adventure

"He has gone to S-C-H-O-O-L — SKULL!"

Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search For Christopher Robin, in some countries titled Winnie-the-Pooh's Most Grand Adventure, was 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... 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 Skullosaurus. Owl equips the gang with a map and they set off on a treacherous adventure to save their friend. But they have no idea that, along the way, they will encounter dangers from all around, and 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:

  • Arc Words:
    • Christopher Robin: "You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
    • "Forever (and ever)."
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Kanga and Roo are completely absent from the film, despite being major characters in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
  • 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..