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Of Disney's many franchises that are continuously revived, many consider Winnie-the-Pooh to be one that has best survived the test of time. Even some of the silly old bear's worst featurettes rarely get considered "bad" all around. Around the early 2000s Disneytoon Studios saw potential in Pooh's colourful supporting cast and started making spin off movies, the first revolving around the ever jumpy bumpy Tigger. Sure to be a riot, am I right?....right?
As it turns out The Tigger Movie is one of Pooh's most damn well heart wrenching instalments. Tigger, ever boasting being "the only one" of his own, is starting to feel lonely, and an offhand comment leaves him pondering on the possibility of a Tigger family. Naturally the chances of the stripedy plush cat finding more of his kind through his tragically naive pursuits grows ever thin, and after a while his friends (especially the ever idolising Roo) start to take drastic measures to make sure Tigger feels loved.
The story, while simplistic and expectedly another Pooh Idiot Plot, is nicely laid out and rounded by the childlike scope of the cast, and goes to surprisingly somber moods for a Pooh work. The aesop is predictable, but is done so lovingly. I love the use of the cast, everyone feels involved here, even ancillary characters like Kanga and Owl (sadly no Gopher around this time though). Perhaps most interesting was the use of Roo, previously a pretty minor character in the series, being utilised as something of a Supporting Protagonist and supplying almost as many tearjerking moments as Tigger does. Disneytoons seemed to see potential in the character since he was promoted to main character in all their Pooh films afterward.
The animation and ambience is quite lush and arguably the closest the later Pooh films got to perfectly emulating Many Adventure's etchy style. The voice work fluctuates wonderfully between goofy and more serious moods without ever losing the quirkiness of the Pooh cast. While I think it's a shame Paul Winchell was turned down, Jim Cummings, while still not a replica of Winchell's Tigger like he is of Sterling Holloway's Pooh, sure did try to fill his shoes this time round and does one of his most emotional performances. The musical numbers by the Sherman Brothers are memorable and cute, and were apparently loved enough by Disney's execs to earn the film a theatrical release.
Even the end credits to this film are a tearjerker with a truly poignant number by Kenny Loggins played over a loving tribute to the original Milne books.
Of course being Pooh, it's still (mostly) warm and laid back childlike entertainment, but who would have it any other way?
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