2 items from 2005
Murder, She Wrote star Angela Lansbury is preparing to undergo knee replacement surgery today. The British actress, 79, tripped over an electrical cord on Friday night while joining celebrities onstage for Stephen Sondheim's 75th birthday concert at the Hollywood Bowl. But, according to Lansbury's daughter Deirdre Battarra, the slip has nothing to do with the actress' surgery plans. Battarra explains, "Her knee is so painful from years of dancing. She's pretty at ease about it all." Lansbury is expected to take one to two months to recover. »
25 February 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Proving that you can teach an old Pooh new tricks, A.A. Milne's enduring characters make room for a fresh arrival to the Hundred Acre Wood in the irresistible form of a young purple pachyderm.
On the heels of 1999's "The Tigger Movie" and 2003's "Piglet's Big Movie", "Pooh's Heffalump Movie" is by far the best of the DisneyToon Studios bunch.
It's a charming-looking, tenderly told story about friendship and diversity, but its secret weapon is the roly-poly, spirited Lumpy, a terrifically drawn and voiced (by 8-year-old Kyle Stanger) Heffalump who becomes Roo's new best buddy.
With Lumpy destined to become one of Disney's bigger non-Pixar merchandising successes, the film should emerge as a tidy family hit for the studio, carrying a very manageable 63-minute running time that's perfect for young (and not-so-young) attention spans.
When a loud rumbling has the denizens of Pooh Corner believing that they've been invaded by the highly dreaded but never seen Heffalump, Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings), Tigger (Cummings), Eeyore (Peter Cullen), Piglet (John Fiedler) and Rabbit (Ken Sansom) reluctantly set forth on an expedition to catch the elusive creature.
The determined Roo (Nikita Hopkins), deemed too young to join the hunt, has been left in the care of his mother, Kanga (Kath Soucie), but sneaks out of his house early in the morning to embark on his very own Heffalump mission.
It doesn't take long before he comes face to face with the playful Heffridge Trumpler Brompet Heffalump III, or Lumpy for short, whose unaffected English accent (courtesy of British-born Stanger) would have been right at home among the orphans in "Oliver!"
The two strike up a fast friendship while the others go about the tricky business of trying to bag a Heffalump.
In Milne's stories the Heffalumps were spoken of but never seen, existing in the imaginations of Pooh, Piglet and company as a representational fear of the unknown.
Thanks to director Frank Nissen, screenwriters Brian Hohlfeld and Evan Spiliotopoulos and the scene-stealing Stanger, Lumpy is very much in the spirit of the other characters created by Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard.
The entire voice cast, including Brenda Blethyn as the very Angela Lansbury Mama Heffalump, do a uniformly fine job continuing in the tradition of originators Sterling Holloway and Paul Winchell. Fiedler, meanwhile, has been voicing Piglet ever since 1968's "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day."
While the traditional two-dimensional animated style is quaint by current state-of-the-art standards, there's something endearing in its simplicity, while the straight-ahead storytelling has a gentle emotional resonance that gets its message across without condescending to its target demo.
Completing the delightful effect is a buoyant score by Joel McNeely and a number of original songs contributed by Carly Simon that have a habit of sticking with you like the contents of one of Pooh's ubiquitous honey pots.
Pooh's Heffalump Movie
Buena Vista Pictures
Director: Frank Nissen
Producer: Jessica Koplos-Miller
Screenwriters: Brian Hohlfeld and Evan Spiliotopoulos
Based on characters created by: A.A. Milne
Editors: Robert Fisher, Jr., Anthony F. Rocco
Music: Joel McNeely
Original songs: Carly Simon
Winnie the Pooh/Tigger: Jim Cummings
Piglet: John Fiedler
Roo: Nikita Hopkins
Kanga: Kath Soucie
Rabbit: Ken Sansom
Eeyore: Peter Cullen
Mama Heffalump: Brenda Blethyn
Lumpy: Kyle Stanger
MPAA rating: G
Running time -- 63 minutes »
2 items from 2005
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