Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A Heffalump Sized Harrumph

Last night, we sat down as a family to watch Pooh's Heffalump Movie. Normally, I do not engage in such trifles. Classic works of literature and music invariably prove to be more entertaining than "popular culture" (e.g., such as an episode of Dharma and Greg or the latest iteration of Police Academy). However, in a moment of weakness the Heffalump Movie intrigued me. The original story was an inventive application of logic in information deprived settings, resulting in a charming and understated comedy. Exhibiting a bit of teddy bear bravado, Pooh and Piglet earnestly set a hair-brained trap for a creature that both bragged about seeing even though neither have heard of the Heffalump before.

I was curious to see how the movie would handle the subject matter. The story is very short, even if one included the sequel where Pooh and Piglet fall into the Heffalump trap set long ago; how would it be stretched into a feature length movie? The whole point of the Heffalump is that it is a mythology crafted from braggadocio and fear; how would such a creature be handled in a visual medium?

The answer is poorly. The Heffalump physically exists. Evidence of the Heffalump confronts the characters, who apparently know a great deal about the Heffalump because they describe it in great detail. When the cast of characters go in search of the Heffalump, they naturally encounter the Heffalump. The whole point of the Heffalump is thereby lost. The only aspect of the original story maintained by Disney is the macho, xenophobic jingoism. However, the overarching theme of Pooh's Heffalump Movie is that you can grow up overnight if you try hard enough. That moral is as tired as it is moronic.

I wasn't the only one disappointed in the movie:

Wagsy: Um ... these bears aren't very bright. I know Pooh is "a bear of very little brain" in the books, but ... um ... the characters in the movie make Platy seem like a rocket scientist.

Platy: I like rockets.

Goofball: What did they do to my man Eeyore? In the story, he was a big ol' sour puss, but he was hip to the game. He knew what was up. Part of the reason he was so dour was because he was a smart cat surrounded by simpletons. In the movie, he's stoned and retarded. Why is he carrying all their crap into the woods? Rabbit said it was all useless. This movie is messed up.

Wagsy: Um ... I don't want to be mean, but can the DVD player edit out Piglet?

Goofball: Yo, I want to go Queen of Hearts on him and SUPPRESS THAT GUINEA PIG!

Buffy: Like this movie is totally lame. The characters are all freaks, excepting Roo. And he's kinda cute in that boy-toy type of way, but he's a little boring. The one person on the screen with any star power is the Heffalump. Oh, my god, Lumpy is a star in the making. He's hot.

Wagsy: Yeah, yeah. He's really cute. He's the only good thing about the movie.

Goofball: Why are they sendin' the heaviest person over the pit to save Roo? That has got to be the dumbest thing I've seen in a long time.

Wagsy: Dumber than Eeyore carrying a grandfather clock through the forest even though everyone agrees it is useless for catching Heffalumps?

Goofball: Okay, it's not THAT stupid. Why did you have to remind me of that?

Platy: How can a clock have a father?

Buffy: Forget about Eeyore. He's like a total yawn. What happened to Tigger? Like he was a young aardvark's super star in the books. He was charismatic and bouncy and totally looked someone you'd want to go clubbing with. Yeah, he couldn't climb trees, but why would you want to do that anyways? In the movie, he's like a total loser from start to finish.

Ozzie: Remind me again, why are we watching this movie?

Wagsy: Um ... because Harriet wanted to. I'm a little disappointed, to be honest. I was expecting more.

Goofball: I thought the movie put the "stun" back in "stunk." S-T-U-N-K. Stunk.

Buffy: Oh my god, this movie totally bummed me out. I feel unclean. I'll have to exfoliate or something tomorrow.

Wagsy: What did you think of the movie, Platy?

Platy: I thought it was confusing.

Pi then began to explain the movie to Platy. At that point, I became very concerned about the development of my young protege. At such an impressionable age, Pi might be seduced by the ease of popular culture. So I decided that swift action must be taken. Freud is fascinating, but books can also be fun and entertaining. It was now time for Bear and Pi to be exposed to age appropriate reading. Afterall, the children to whom Bear and Pi are assigned won't be ready for Plato until age 8 or 9 (and the original Greek will likely have to wait until age 12).

Reading Age Appropriate Books

So we sat down to read a book with funny and colorful pictures. Some of the text was rollicking and aimed at children. Other parts were wry and aimed at parents. In short, it was superior to the Heffalump Movie in every way.


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