POOH'S HEFFALUMP MOVIE

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Reviews

If you don't want a heffalump stuffed toy after seeing Pooh's Heffalump Movie, get checked for a heartbeat. Take it from a critic who despises most of the cinematic pablum fed to children, rife with gender bias, racism, homophobia and social values already outmoded when Queen Victoria sat on the English throne: This film is cute-and it's short.

While the characters in A. A. Milne's "bear of little brain" stories appear strangely out of touch with child sensibilities-for his male characters, surely the author metamorphosized his Cambridge chums-adults know them well. Rabbit is a pontificating narcissist, Eeyore a phlegmatic realist, Tigger an intelligent but hopelessly inarticulate social misfit, Piglet a fearful obsessive-compulsive, and Pooh, who can't stay out of the honey pot, is the one with the eating disorder. Bereft of a child companion, I spent 50 minutes of the 63-minute Pooh's Heffalump Movie imagining the animals transformed back into their human form. My ideal cast? Pooh would undoubtedly become Charles Laughton and Piglet Tony Shalhoub. Ideal mum Kanga could be none other than Myrna Loy. And just as I began casting Tigger and Rabbit, Kanga's boy Roo fell into a pit. Then Roo's friend Lumpy, the eponymous baby heffalump, trumpeted his mother for help. The film was nearly over!

Never mind about the plot-this is a wonderful film for the under-five crowd. All you need to know is that the heffalumps (or elephants) provide an innocuous object lesson in tolerance (despite their distinctly British accents). There's not much here for girls-not since Hayley Mills has Disney created a female character we could wholeheartedly admire-although Lumpy's mom is undoubtedly warrior-queen material. (The voice is Brenda Blethyn's, but transformed this gal is the indomitable Kathy Bates.) Classic, colorful Disney animation and euphonious (although not memorable) Carly Simon tunes kept the kiddies in a Friday afternoon screening in their seats. If like me you're not stirred by fond memories of Winnie the Pooh, do a little casting. Imagine Eeyore transformed into Paul Scofield and...