Springtime With Roo

DisneyToon Studios, the mostly direct-to-video arm of Disney's animation empire, had struck gold numerous times by releasing films based on Disney's version of Winnie the Pooh. One of their earliest efforts was the mostly charming Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin in 1997. The successful sales of this title convinced them to continue making Pooh films. Two of which, Seasons of Giving in 1999 and A Very Merry Pooh Year in 2002, were made with such little effort that they mostly recycled footage from a TV series from 1988 called The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. But due to strong sales, Disney selected Pooh to be the center of some theatrical DisneyToon Studios projects, The Tigger Movie in 2000 and Piglet's Big Movie in 2003.

For Spring 2004, DisneyToon Studios produced an all-new direct-to-video Pooh film with a marketing campaign centered around Roo, who had become extremely popular with the preschool crowd. Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo was originally released on March 9th, 2004, on DVD and VHS. The seasonal theming allowed the film to sell well as a blind buy year after year, regardless of the film's quality. When John Lasseter greenlit a brand new Pooh film that would be a direct follow up to the original shorts and package feature, he used his power to have Disney Home Entertainment discontinue all other Pooh films. Films like Springtime With Roo damaged the brand rather than strengthened it and were taken out of print and put in the "Vault" in 2010.

2011's Winnie the Pooh, while a wonderful film, did poorly at the box office and it seemed the damage was too great for a quality Pooh film to reaffirm beliefs that Pooh is not just for preschool children. Shortly after, Disney slowly started reintroducing the films back into circulation. Five of the ten Pooh films are now available on Disney Blu-Ray and DVD, including March 11th's rerelease of  Winnie the Pooh: Springtime With Roo.

Consumers have two options: A Blu-Ray/Digital Copy combo pack or a standalone DVD. You read that correctly, they did not include a DVD with this Blu-Ray release. While this is the film's 10th anniversary, Disney instead calls this the "Hippity Hoppity Roo Edition," a moniker so annoying it is sure to turn some consumers away. For the new release, Disney has replaced the old blue castle intro with the modern CG castle. This will surely confuse parents into thinking its a brand new film.

Roo is very excited for the Easter egg hunt, but Rabbit hijacks his happy holiday when he declares it Spring Cleaning Day instead. When the gang decides to have Easter behind Rabbit's back, he decides to cancel Easter permanently. The Narrator and Tigger intervene to take Rabbit  back a few chapters to when Rabbit used to love Easter. Returning to the present, Rabbit is upset by the flashback so Tigger leaves him alone to share the sad news that he couldn't save Easter. The narrator shows this scene to Rabbit, who still doesn't care. Finally, the narrator shows Rabbit a future chapter in the book where he doesn't change his ways. This dark future reveals that all of Rabbits friends moved away from the Hundred Acre Wood so they could celebrate Easter again. Upon returning to the present, Rabbit has had a change of heart and resumes Easter festivities, to the delight of Roo and all of his friends.

Video

The film is presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect ratio. The high definition transfer allows colors to pop brightly and all of the background details to stand out. I didn't notice any issues with the transfer.

Audio

Audio options are English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, French 5.1, Spanish 5.1, and surprisingly a Russian 2.0 track. In the surround tracks, rear speaker usage is infrequent, but noticeable when the mix does surround your home theater.

Bonus Features

There is just one bonus feature on the Blu-Ray, which is brand new to this release.

  • Get Up and Dance - Rabbit's song "The Way It Must Be Done" from the film is presented with kids dancing along. The editing makes it hard to follow along and there is no introduction inviting kids to join the on-screen action like the title suggests.

The DVD doesn't include a single bonus feature, just the film itself. The 2004 DVD release featured three DVD games and a first look at the then upcoming Pooh's Heffalump Movie. However the biggest omission are two Spring themed episodes from The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh called "Honey For a Bunny" and "Trap As Trap Can."

Menus & Packaging

The standard Blu-Ray disc is housed in a single-disc case. A slipcover is available in its initial pressing, but the copies I found in stores didn't include them. There are three inserts inside: an add for Disney Movie Club, your Disney Movie Rewards/Digital Copy code, and a punch-out mobile with some assembly required (you must provide string to tie it together). The mobile is only advertised by a sticker on the packaging that makes bigger mention of the digital copy.

The description on the back of the box declares "Now on Digital High Definition and Blu-Ray..." as if the digital copy is the real reason you are purchasing this and the Blu-Ray is just a bonus. Ironic since consumers who primarily care about the digital copy would be buying this, well, digitally. The trailers that automatically play when the disc is inserted are for Sleeping Beauty Diamond Edition, Muppets: Most Wanted, and Frozen. Selecting additional previews from the menu plays them for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Nature's Bears, and The Pirate Fairy.

Digital copy options are iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu. Redeeming your Disney Movie Rewards certificate automatically adds the film to your Disney Movies Anywhere account. I redeemed my copy through iTunes, which includes the menu and singular bonus feature. The inclusion of iTunes as an option will come as a shock to anybody who bought The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh combo pack last Fall, which excluded it as an option.

Final Thoughts

Springtime With Roo is a decent Pooh film, but its biggest challenge is that it's not very memorable. It's mostly a retelling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with Rabbit playing Scrooge and Easter swapped for Christmas as the holiday he is bah humbug about. That story has been filmed so memorably so many times that this one is easily dismissed. The title is confusing as well, since Roo is barely in the film and Rabbit is the main character. Disney's lack of marketing, lack of bonus features, and overall lack of effort with this release is hopefully not a sign of things to come for future home video releases. This release was clearly aimed at unknowing parents who stumble upon it on store shelves while buying egg dye. The only problem is, it took visiting three major retailers to actually find the Blu-Ray for sale, which was at Best Buy... and they don't sell PAAS. Maybe if Disney had put some money towards advertising this release, stores would be more eager to stock it.

Springtime with Roo is currently available through Amazon.

 

Alex is currently watching and reviewing all of Disney’s films in chronological order. You can follow along here.