Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin (also known as Winnie the Pooh’s Most Grand Adventure in some countries) is a 1997 American direct-to-video animated comedy adventure film directed by Karl Geurs. The film follows Pooh and his friends on a journey to find and rescue their friend Christopher Robin from the “Skull”. Along the way, the group confront their own insecurities throughout the search, facing and conquering them in a series of events where they’re forced to act beyond their own known limits, thus discovering their true potential. Unlike the film’s predecessors, this film is an entirely original story, not based on any of A. A. Milne’s classic stories (although some elements derive from In which Rabbit Has a Busy Day and We Learn What Christopher Robin Does in the Mornings and In which Christopher Robin and Pooh Come to an Enchanted Place and we Leave them there from The House at Pooh Corner).
The film received mixed reviews due to its dark themes and imagery, which also resulted in its release as a direct-to-video feature film. However, it is also the first Winnie the Pooh film ever to have its own special edition.
Released 20 years after The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, this is an original story that essentially continues from where that film ended off, the scene where Christopher Robin must leave the Hundred Acre Wood behind as he is starting school. In it, Christopher Robin and Pooh discuss what they liked doing together and the boy asks his bear to promise to remember him and to keep some of the memories of their time together alive. Pooh agrees to do so, and the film closes with The Narrator saying that wherever Christopher Robin goes, Pooh will always be waiting for him whenever he returns. That’s where this new film leaves off on….sort of.
Despite starting right where the original story left off, the opening does begin with Christopher Robin trying to tell Pooh some sad news while they are enjoying their adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood. When he finally gets a chance to tell Pooh the news, he basically ends it with some advice in a pretty powerful scene for kids:
This scene perfectly sets the tone for the movie we’re about to watch as we’re in for a more, maybe not darker but more, heavier tone than the usual Winnie The Pooh story we’re used to.
But in a way, that’s why I have a special appreciation for this movie than most people do because there have been mixed reception because of the heavier themes and imagery in this but then again, kids can handle these darker elements, especially for a Disney movie of all things. Plus, to the movie’s credit, they do manage to keep the heavier moments in tone, the most epic it ever gets is when the gang gets stuck in a ravine and fall off a high cliff and that’s about as harsh as it gets.
There really is a lot about this movie to admire, the animation in the similar fashion to previous Winnie The Pooh movies and shows is back in full force and the voice cast is back from The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh including Jim Cumming as Pooh and the late John Fielder as Piglet and the late Paul Winchell as Tigger, in what was his last original Pooh movie he’d be involved in, he would also be in Seasons Of Giving two years later but in archive footage. David Warner does a good job with the narration as well.
The music is great, this is Carl Johnson, the composer for Gargoyles and several other Disney animated properties and he creates an impressive score that ties very well with the film at hand. Heck, the songs in this movie are great as well, they hook you in right away and you’d swear these were songs written by The Sherman Brothers again:
There’s really not much negativity I can give Pooh’s Grand Adventure, I just love it all the way around, it teaches good lessons about life, it’s not afraid to go for a more heavier storyline with these characters, the animation is great, the voice work is nicely done, the songs are great, the score is nice, this is a nicely made Winnie The Pooh movie and I really do think it’s one of the more overlooked Disney direct-to-video movies ever made.
This is definitely one you’ll want to give a watch, if you love seeing a bigger story for these characters, this is definitely one that’s smarter than you think.
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