Each year, Rabbit plays Easter Bunny, but this year, he’s decided it’s “Spring Cleaning Day,” and he orders everyone to hop to it: scrubbing, dusting, and mopping. All his pals are disappointed – especially little Roo – until Rabbit learns that putting others first and showing friends how much you care turns every day into a precious gift. Sparkling with unforgettable songs and a never-before-seen bonus treat, this delightful “egg-stravaganza” shows why love, hope and friendship are always in full bloom in the Hundred Acre Wood!
I enjoy a good 'Winnie the Pooh' movie from time to time, but when I saw that 'Springtime with Roo' was being pulled out of Disney's "vault" and getting a proper Blu-ray release, I was somewhat puzzled. When was 'Springtime with Roo' released and why had I never heard of it? After doing some investigating – and by that I mean Googling the title of the film – I learned that 'Springtime with Roo' was a direct-to-DVD movie that Disney put out some time in 2004. After watching the movie, I realized that I'd never heard of it because it's simply not good. Like the many direct-to-VHS Disney sequels that started in the '90s with 'The Return of Jafar,' the quality of 'Springtime' is significantly lower than the adored 'Pooh' titles.
The title "Springtime with Roo" is a barely-applicable title, as the majority of the movie focuses on Rabbit and the Easter holiday. Pooh and company couldn't be more excited for Easter. They're extremely excited for the Hundred Acre Wood tradition of Rabbit becoming The Easter Bunny and the many traditions that come with it. On the morning of Easter, Roo, Pooh, Piglet, Eyore, and Tigger head over to Rabbit's house for the festivities, only to find that grumpy Rabbit has instead made a list of "spring kleening" chores for them to do around his house. You see, Rabbit is fed-up with the lot of them not playing along by his rules, so he's discontinuing the Easter tradition and breaking their hearts/spirits in the process.
Most 'Winnie the Pooh' movies fall within the perfect 65-minute runtime range. Every kids movie should be this length. And although 'Springtime with Roo' wraps up in that time frame, it feels so long. The plot slowly moves along and there are only a few entertaining moments throughout, making it feel even longer than it should. About halfway through, we finally realize what the writers were going for 'Springtime with Roo' – it's a retelling of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' only with Easter being the holiday at hand. Tigger breaks the fourth wall to crack a joke about Dickens in the movie's final scene. Unfortunately, instead of feeling like a joke, because of the weak fashion in which the movie is written, it feels more the like writers wrote it to say, "If you were wondering if we were trying to make a 'Christmas Carol' edition of Pooh, then you're right! Yes, that's what we were trying to do!"
The 'Winnie the Pooh' franchise has never been a wildly entertaining one, but what it lacks in pure entertainment it makes up for with charm and wit. As an audience member, if 'Pooh' contains the slightest amount of nostalgia, then the entertainment value is raised. Being a big enough fan – especially after the 2011 big-screen release of 'Winnie the Pooh' – 'Springtime with Roo' is sorely disappointing. It's missing the heart that's prevalent in all other 'Pooh' shows. Also, it's strange that neither Christopher Robin or Owl make an appearance in the film. Truthfully, it's so bland and sub-par that I'll mostly likely never watch it again. Like mine, your kids may enjoy it – but they can watch it on their own.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Disney has placed 'Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo' on a Region-free BD-50. Included in this release is a code valid for Disney Movie Reward points and an HD digital copy of the film. Like most other Disney Blu-rays, the disc kicks off with a vanity reel and a bunch of trailers – all of which can be skipped over by going directly to the main menu. If you're curious about the included trailers, they, and few others, can be viewed from the "Sneak Peeks" section of the Special Features menu.
'Springtime with Roo' carries a solid 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer that almost perfectly matches that of 2011's 'Winnie the Pooh.' The story opens with a narrated introduction and a live-action shot of Christopher Robin's bedroom with a stuffed Pooh bear and a storybook on a shelf. The sunlight brightly shines into his room, giving it a very classic old-time feel. The video quality here is pristine, not a flaw in sight. This same flawless characteristic never leaves. I didn't notice a single spec or scratch in the entire filme. Shortly after the intro, we dive into the animated world and never again step into the live-action world.
Like the stories of Winnie the Pooh, the animation style is very simple. The animated characters are made up of natural-looking pencil lines, all of which are clearly defined. The cool aspect of the pencil-like effect is the lines appear to be flawed like real pencils. No line is ever just a solid black. Instead, they exemplify the traits of drawing on textured paper.
Because 'Springtime with Roo' is all about Easter, the color palette is chock full of bright pastels. The typical warmth of 'Winnie the Pooh' films is swapped for the bright colors you'd see during an Easter egg hunt. This is a just about the only difference between this and 2011's 'Pooh' Blu-ray.
The only eyesore that caught my attention lies within the printed text of the 'Winnie the Pooh' book that the narrator takes us through. As always, the written text is playfully toyed with within the movie's story. For some reason, the words on the page have the tendency to feature jagged edges, almost as if they're pixelated. I cannot say if this is fault of the Blu-ray transfer (because everything else that appears on the screen with the text is perfectly crystal clear) or the original movie itself (because this is the first time I've seen it).
The audio for 'Springtime with Roo' has been bumped up to a lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track – but it's nowhere as great as you'd hope for. The film's opening music kicks off in a grand fashion, playing broadly throughout all channels, but after that, every aspect of the mix seems to emanate almost entirely from the front channels. A few of the half-dozen musical numbers occasionally span to the rear and surround channels, but that's it. While watching, there was so little sound coming from those speakers that I had to double-check that the disc didn't default to the 2.0 Dolby Digital track.
But even as unimpressive as the audio mixing may be, the track as a whole audibly sounds great. There aren't any flaws to be heard. The effects, music and vocals are all harmoniously balanced. The discs' volume levels are consistent, leaning slightly on the loud side. If only a little more effort had been placed in the 5.1 mixing, the lossless audio track could have sounded superb.
'Winnie the Pooh' may be a timeless classic character, but 'Springtime with Roo' is just as unenjoyable and forgettable as most of Disney's direct-to-home video sequels. The story is bland and uneventful, the characters simply go through the motions (that is, those Hundred Acre Wood characters that actually appear in the movie), the wit and charm is completely missing and it's devoid of a heart. All of these things combined make the 65-minute movie feel like it's 165 minutes long. I literally fell asleep halfway through – which I never do – and had to go back and re-watch the second half. The video quality is near-perfect, but the 5.1 audio uses the surround and rear speakers as much as a 2.0 mix. The sole special feature is a complete waste of two minutes. As much as I was looking forward to 'Springtime with Roo,' by choice, I'll likely never watch it again. Unless your kids are die-hard Pooh fans, then 'Winnie the Pooh: Springtime with Roo' is only worth of a rental.