Heffa Good Time
As critical as I am about kid-oriented movies, I can always depend on good ol' Winnie the Pooh for a little bit of heartwarming fun. It's a successful formula that hasn't changed since A.A. Milne first put pen to paper and created Pooh Bear's calming atmosphere and simple set of values. In short, it doesn't take much for the characters to win over not only the little ones but their parents as well. The latest example is Pooh's Heffalump Movie, which, in an age when such awful and irritating films like Are We There Yet? qualify as family entertainment, promises to leave you with a smile on your face and more than makes good on it.
Something strange is happening in the Hundred Acre Wood. Huge footprints have begun appearing in the area, and old friends like Winnie the Pooh (voice of Jim Cummings), Piglet (voice of John Fiedler), and Tigger (also Cummings) have been disturbed by loud trumpeting sounds emerging from the forest. After some deliberation, the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood have come to the conclusion that a dreaded Heffalump is responsible for raising such a ruckus. But as Pooh and friends form an expedition to capture one of the mysterious creatures themselves, little Roo (voice of Nikita Hopkins) befriends a baby Heffalump and discovers that there might not be anything to be afraid of after all.
At a very slim 68 minutes (including previews and pre-show bathroom visits, my total time inside the theatre was probably 90 minutes or less), Pooh's Heffalump Movie doesn't have time to beat around the bush when it comes to getting its morals across. Sure, the short running time is a bit of a gyp depending on what you pay to see the flick, the Carly Simon tunes are a little iffy, and for Pooh fans, it's a little disappointing to see some characters left out of the mix (surprisingly, Christopher Robin and Owl are nowhere in sight here). But unlike the stodgy Babe ripoff Racing Stripes or the aforementioned atrocity Are We There Yet?, Pooh's Heffalump Movie is a family flick that lays its cards on the table right away. And, thankfully, it doesn't shoot over the kids' heads or engulf their parents with dopey sentimentality.
Pooh's Heffalump Movie hits all the right notes, using colorful animation and a tried-and-true fomula to spin its sweet yarn about growing up, facing one's fears, and getting to know the unknown before you judge it. Although it's nothing special or life-changing, the film sticks close to its source material and conveys a few life lessons we should all take to heart.
MY RATING: *** (out of ****)
(Released by Buena Vista Pictures and rated "G" as suitable for general audiences.)
Review also posted at www.ajhakari.com.