- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

"Piglet's Big Movie" would appear to be a facetious title. This addition to the Disney studio's Winnie the Pooh animated films is a very small proposition, aimed hopefully at preschoolers. Three years ago, the far more active Tigger rated only "The Tigger Movie" for his feature-length showcase.
"Piglet" may track pretty young even in the preschool segment of the moviegoing audience. It's easy to imagine that it might be the first theatrical movie experience for many little ones.
They would find vastly more stimulation and cartoon artistry at an "Ice Age" or "Lilo & Stitch," but lulling fables have their charms, and the idea of predicating an installment on kind, resourceful, diminutive Piglet is certainly defensible.
The movie is predicated on the idea that he has been underappreciated by the other critters of the Hundred Acre Wood. Belatedly, they're brought to a welcome recognition of what a sterling wee fellow they have had in their habitat. The more sensible title might be "In Search of Piglet," or "Piglet's Morale Boost."
Piglet's virtues ought to stare his comrades in the face from the opening episode, which obliges the hero to save the headstrong Tigger and oblivious Pooh from the consequences of a blundering honey harvest. Only Piglet's quick thinking diverts a maddened swarm of bees after the hive is rudely confiscated.
The miscreants even take refuge in Piglet's treehouse and abuse the hospitality of the absent host. They ruin a scrapbook. A honey jug is left near an open window, but this oversight fails to leave Piglet with a house full of bees, as far as one can tell.
Flashback vignettes drawn from the A.A. Milne stories finally awaken the thoughtless animals to their misdeeds. There was the time Christopher Robin thought he was leading an expedition to the North Pole and the time Piglet built a shelter for Eeyore, the phlegmatic donkey.
More incriminating for the chastened band, there seems to have been a harebrained attempt to discourage Kanga's arrival in the neighborhood by abducting her moppet, Roo. She looks like more of a boon to property values than the plotters, whose scheme makes no headway.
The seniority of character actor John Fiedler, who does the voice of Piglet, also may be a fond argument for a feature that singles out his character. Mr. Fiedler is the only surviving member of the original voice cast. The sounds of the original Pooh and Tigger are supplied by Jim Cummings, who does impressions of the late Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell.
A song score has been commissioned from Carly Simon, who seems to be short of inspiration on this occasion.
She also makes an excruciating live-action appearance in an epilogue. We discover her in a bosky dell, communing with her guitar in some state of ecstasy. Perhaps she is having a vision of the First Hootenanny and feels an irresistible impulse to celebrate it for our amazement.
Anyway, try to keep the children and horses as calm as possible as you flee this outburst.
The project appears to have served as a secure testing ground for Disney's Tokyo branch, which realized most of the animation after the designs and recordings were completed at the home office in Burbank, Calif. If it was an assimilation test, the team seems to have passed, because the illustrative style is consistent with the Pooh films.
It's amusing to note that while Disney is adding to the Pooh inventory this weekend, Castle Rock is adding to its Stephen King inventory with "Dreamcatcher." This must be franchise-maintenance week.

**
TITLE: "Piglet's Big Movie"
RATING: G
CREDITS: Directed by Francis Glebas. Screenplay by Brian Hohlfeld and Ted Henning, based on stories by A.A. Milne. Art direction by Fred Warter. Animation director Takeshi Atomura. Songs by Carly Simon. Musical score by Carl Johnson
RUNNING TIMES: 75 minutes
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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