Directed by: Francis Glebas
Starring: John Fiedler, Jim Cummings, Ken Sansom, Peter Cullen
Oh, it's cute. The little ones will love this charming tale of teamwork and the need to tell your friends how important they are.
Children who already know A.A. Milne's classic Winnie-the-Pool stories are likely to enjoy this movie the most. At the screening I attended, these kids followed every twist and turn in the story with unfidgety fascination, their excited giggles popping up like joyous sparklers throughout the darkened theater.
The film offers the lovable Winnie-The-Pooh, a "bear of little brain" who's nonetheless big in heart. And "bouncy, trouncy, pouncy, flouncy" Tigger, who boings on his pogo-stick tail; hyperactive, take-charge Rabbit; and gloomy Eeyore, the donkey with a bright-pink bow on his behind. Alas, these buddies (all male characters, for those parents who care about these things) are so wrapped up in their scheme to steal honey that they exclude their tiniest member, the humble Piglet. "I may be small," he cries, "but in the biggest, helpfullest way!"
Poor Piglet. His bigger friends are so busy eating the honey or rubbing it all over themselves that they fail to notice that it was pint-sized Piglet who had bravely re-directed the avenging horde of stinging bees and saved the day.
With his feelings hurt, Piglet runs away. His friends find his memory book in which he's crayoned lots of the adventures he's had, showing how he, Piglet, was the unrecognized hero. Using his drawings as a guide, his friends try to retrace Piglet's steps to find him. "Piglet, Piglet!" they call out as they search through the Hundred Acre Wood. Caught up in the onscreen magic, half a dozen worried little voices in the theater called out, too, "Piglet! Piglet!"
The animation in Piglet, most of which is hand-drawn (by Japanese animators) instead of computer generated, beautifully imitates childlike watercolors. The film's action is fantastically clever but violence-free; its gentle humor brilliantly takes the things that kids know in their small world and turns them into hilarious comedy riffs. There is a scene in which Piglet is being given a bath by Kanga, the mama kangaroo. She dunks him, bubbles him, scrubs him, wipes him and squirts him, then brushes his teeth with an Australia-sized toothbrush -- both the kids and I were in stitches.
Piglet doesn't have the majesty of Spirit, Stallion of the Cimarron or the sophisticated wit and grandeur of The Wild Thornberrys Movie (both features were on my list of top 10 movies for last year). It's a different kind of animated-movie experience -- old-fashioned, quaint and homey.
Though less impactful, perhaps, to parents who have come to expect high-intensity drama and speeding freight-train action in their kids movies, Piglet is one of those films that will warm its way into a kid's heart over time. It's a must-buy when it comes out on video. The kids can watch Piglet over and over again, singing the singable songs (by Carly Simon, who looks terrific in a music video tacked on the end of the film), discovering new details, memorizing their favorite parts and feeling secure in the movie's safe, friendly world. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all do the same thing these days?
"Piglet! Oh, Piglet!"