Winnie the Pooh is one of those Disney properties that I've always had a strange fondness for. I think it probably has to do with its simplicity as the stories told by A.A. Milne are just so pleasant and timeless that it gives anyone who watches them a childlike innocence. The two films from Walt Disney Animation Studios released in 1977 and 2011 are perfect examples of this as they captured the spirit of their books with sweet stories, lush animation, and characters that are so lovable and iconic it's hard to forget them. Before Walt Disney Animation Studios returned to Pooh in 2011, their sister studio DisneyToons Studios made some stories with Pooh and his friends with the second one being "Piglet's Big Movie" in 2003. While the film certainly has its moments and some of the charm from the original stories, I was left underwhelmed by the end and felt I got very little out of it. It didn't do much for me.
Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, Piglet (John Fielder) has begun to worry if he feels uncared for by his friends after saving Pooh (Jim Cummings), Tigger (also Cummings), Eeyore (Peter Cullen), and Rabbit (Ken Samson) from a failed plan where the four tried to steal some honey from the bees. After fleeing from the bees and returning to the area, the four realize Piglet has disappeared and go on a search to find him throughout the wood. They then soon come across his scrapbook and soon reminiscent of the times Piglet has helped them all which include the first time they came across Kanga (Kath Soucie) and Roo (Nikita Hopkins), the time they and Christopher Robin (Tom Wheatley) went in search of the North Pole, and the time Pooh and Piglet decided to build Eeyore a house at Pooh Corner.
It feels very odd saying that I was disappointed by this film considering it was primarily intended for small children, but I was. I think it's because I expect more out of Winnie the Pooh considering that "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" had an innocence and charm to it that could be enjoyed by both children and adults. Alas, this was not the case here. I think the story is probably my biggest problem with the film. For a film that claims this is a big film involving Piglet, it sure doesn't feel like it. I did enjoy the flashbacks that were prevalent as they came from Milne's original books and still had some of the charm that the original film had. They still have their innocence and simplicity to them while showing the colorful mishaps that happen with the characters that give audiences a warm feeling inside. My favorite was easily the search for the North Pole where Roo ends up falling into the river and the animals all try to save him with crazy mishaps happening along the way. It reminded me a lot of the story where Tigger ended up getting stuck in the tree. Unfortunately, their downfall is that the filmmakers shifted the focus of the stories to why Piglet is important to all of them and it just didn't work. If anything, it made the characters silly mishaps looked selfish and arrogant which was the wrong way for these characters to be approached. It also doesn't help that the framing revolving around the scrapbook and the others trying to find him felt tensionless and dull. It all builds to a rather mediocre finish that left me feeling unfulfilled by the end rather than filled with joy. If the filmmakers wanted to make a story about Piglet, they probably should've created their own original story like what they did with "The Tigger Movie" where they came up with an original story involving Tigger and what it was like for him to be the only tigger out there. As far as the animation goes, I wasn't amazed by it. Compared to the hand-painted and Xerox feel of the two Walt Disney Animation Studios films and "The Tigger Movie", the film has a very clean and digital look that I wasn't a fan of. The backgrounds didn't have the lush watercolors that the films had and I also thought the character's color palates looked off. Winnie the Pooh had a brownish tint rather than yellow, Rabbit looked more yellow than cream, and Eeyore was purple rather than gray. It looked really off to me. As far as the characters go, they still have their pleasant charm even if the story doesn't let them shine. I do think Piglet shines bright in his own film even if his screen time is very minimal in this film and he does get shoved to the side a lot. He's still as selfless and kind as he was in the original film and John Fiedler is so charming playing him like usual. Pooh is also still naive and innocent, Tigger is still as boisterous and bouncy, Rabbit is cocky and overconfident, and Eeyore is still gloomy and depressed. I do wish that Kanga and Owl were given a bit more screen time as the former was brushed aside in favor of Roo while the latter is pushed aside because of the joke where he goes on and on about his life. It's always funny seeing Owl and him not being as wise as he claims, but I do wish he was given more time in the film than his brief cameo at the beginning and end of the film. I also should briefly talk about the songs written by and sometimes sung by Carly Simon. I thought they were okay. I do like Carly Simon and I think she fits with the spirit of Winnie the Pooh, yet some of her songs worked better than others. Some were very good and catchy like "Sing Ho for the Life of a Bear" and "The More It Snows" where the characters sing her songs, but I was sometimes annoyed by other songs where she was singing character's feelings over what we were seeing like in "Mother's Intuition".
Overall, "Piglet's Big Movie" was okay. The story had its moments while sometimes feeling a bit dull, the animation didn't really capture the look of the original films, and the characters still had their charm overall even if the titular character was sometimes brushed to the side. Personally, I thought it was a fine film for young children but probably not among Winnie the Pooh's strongest moments. It's certainly not bad, but there are other adventures with the silly old bear I'd recommend instead.