Blu-ray Review: Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo

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Ten years after its direct-to-video debut, Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo arrives on Blu-ray as the “Hippity Hoppity Roo Edition.” The 65-minute animated film was produced by DisneyToon Studios in 2004 and offers an Easter spin on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In this case, Rabbit (voiced by Ken Sansom) takes on the vaguely villainous Scrooge role. In fact, Rabbit is so cranky and bitter, having had his title as honorary Easter Bunny of the Hundred Acre Wood stripped by Tigger, some of the most sensitive Disney fans have cried foul over the years. A “scary” Winnie the Pooh feature? Hardly. The Rabbit-as-Scrooge conceit is one of the more effective aspects of this pleasant excursion, unlikely to leave even the youngest viewers scarred.

Roo (voiced by Jimmy Bennett, the child James T. Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek reboot) loves Easter but Rabbit isn’t having any of it. Rather than hunt for “Eastery” eggs, as Tigger (voiced by Jim Cummings) puts it, Rabbit expects the gang to participate in a day of spring cleaning instead. Winnie the Pooh (also Cummings), who assumes a supporting role here, isn’t exactly tickled by this development, nor are Piglet (voiced by John Fiedler) and the others. While Rabbit goes off alone to tend his carrots, the gang celebrates anyway. No one knows why Rabbit is so anti-Easter until Tigger and the story’s narrator (David Ogden Stiers) combine to play the ghosts of Easter past and future. Turns out Roo expressed a preference for Tigger’s enthusiastic take on the holiday, leaving Rabbit feeling rejected.

Springtime with Roo 2 TMR.jpgLots of songs pop up along the way, none of which are likely to stick in anyone’s mind for very long. The 65-minute running time feels a bit padded in fact, but quite honestly there’s nothing really wrong with Springtime. That is, unless you’re sensitive to the entirely secular treatment of the Easter holiday. No one discovers the “true meaning” of Easter; the focus is strictly on egg hunts and jelly beans. Rabbit’s discontent is rather amusing, especially when considering what an overreaction it really is. Actually, it’s Roo’s mom Kanga (Kath Soucie) who comes off the worst. “Sorry you didn’t get your Easter party,” she wistfully tells Roo after Rabbit’s tantrum. What an ineffectual parent! What exactly is preventing her from throwing an Easter celebration for her own kid, instead of relying entirely on others?

Springtime with Roo BD cover TMR.jpgFor a decidedly second-string Disney animated title, Springtime looks quite good on Blu-ray, with a crystal clear presentation. The direct-to-video nature of the presentation obviously resulted in a more simplistic visual approach than the already restrained look of the Pooh franchise. Colors seem just a tad bit on the bland side, though that’s presumably inherent in the original animation. This looks as strong as anyone is likely to expect. Thankfully, a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is included, a nice upgrade from previous editions. No, it’s not terribly immersive by any stretch, but it’s definitely preferable to the also-included Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track—crisper and more resonant. The music sounds much richer on the lossless track as well.

Woefully under-supplemented, Springtime with Roo has only a two-minute music video, “Get Up and Dance,” for one of Rabbit’s songs, partly animated and partly live-action (a bunch of young kid dance to it). Those expecting a standard DVD as part of the package will be disappointed. In addition to the Blu-ray, the only other included format is an iTunes-compatible Digital Copy. Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo is not an essential Disney title (it’s not even an essential Pooh title), but young fans of the character will surely enjoy it.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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