"Piglet's Big Movie" follows 2001's "The Tigger Movie" as Disney's second original full-length feature derived from A.A. Milne's "Winnie the Pooh" children's books. Parents may find their attention wandering, but the simple tale contains valuable life lessons for their youngest offspring, who will likely be enchanted. As a work of animation in the durable Disney tradition of clarity and charm, it also boasts several songs from Carly Simon and reprises of Sherman Brothers favorites.
If the film's theme, "Even if you're really little, you can do big things," is pretty self-evident to adults, it is nonetheless the film's strength that Brian Hohlfeld's script pulls no punches in delineating the foibles of human nature even as it does so with good humor and affection.
The pals of the diminutive Piglet (John Fiedler) in Milne's Hundred Acre Wood gang -- Winnie (Jim Cummings), Tigger (also voiced by Cummings), Rabbit (Ken Sansom), the donkey Eeyore (Peter Cullen) and Owl (Andre Stojka) -- show that an array of anthropomorphized animals can behave like dumb bunnies. They can be obtuse and selfish and act before they think, but they can also be essentially loving and able to have their consciousness raised and change accordingly.
In the framing sequence, Piglet's friends insist he's too little to help them raid a beehive of its honey, and so intent are they on this task that at first they don't notice that the rejected Piglet has disappeared. Winnie the Pooh hits upon the idea that by pouring over Piglet's hand-drawn storybook they will discover how to find him. Thus, "Piglet's Big Movie," smoothly directed by Francis Glebas, is composed essentially of three Milne stories. Unfolding from Piglet's book, the first involves Kanga the kangaroo (Kath Soucie) and her toddler, Roo (Nikita Hopkins). The Hundred Acre Wood gang greets the mother and son suspiciously, and diverts Kanga's attention long enough to swap Roo with Piglet so that he can find out what Kanga's really like. What follows is the film's most charming interlude, when Piglet discovers what mother love can really be.
In all three vignettes recorded by Piglet in his storybook, he emerges as the unsung hero, and his pals, while taking note that this might be a bit self-serving, realize that they had not given him proper credit at the time the incidents occurred. When the Hundred Acre Wood gang is ready to take off in search of Piglet, the film progresses to a clever cliffhanging finish.
The voice actors, who include Tom Wheatley as the animals' human pal, the young Christopher Robin, are all wonderfully expressive and ideally matched to the animated characters. "Piglet's Big Movie" stays true to its clear-eyed view of human nature right to the finish. An enlightened Pooh realizes that when all is said and done, it was Piglet who ended up constructing a shelter for Eeyore. In a burst of self-congratulatory generosity, Pooh changes the sign by the structure from Pooh Corner to Pooh and Piglet Corner. Although it's true that Pooh had the idea and picked the site for the shelter, Piglet did all the work. Were Pooh being truly magnanimous he would have the sign have only Piglet's name, or at least it would come first.
'Piglet's Big Movie'
MPAA rating: G (general audiences).
Times guidelines: For all ages.
John Fiedler...Voice of Piglet
Jim Cummings...Voice of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger
Andre Stojka...Voice of Owl
Kath Soucie...Voice of Kanga
Nikita Hopkins...Voice of Roo
Peter Cullen...Voice of Eeyore
Ken Sansom...Voice of Rabbit
Tom Wheatley...Voice of Christopher Robin
A Buena Vista release of a Walt Disney Pictures presentation. Director Francis Glebas. Producer Michelle Pappalardo-Robinson. Screenplay by Brian Hohlfeld; adapted from and inspired by the works of A.A. Milne. Songs by Carly Simon. Score Carl Johnson. Art director Fred Warter. Supervising film editor Ivan Bilanco. Animation director Takeshi Atomura. Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes. In general release.