Less a single full-length feature and more a composite of several shorter Winnie the Pooh tales, Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving is coming to DVD in a brand new, 10th Anniversary Edition – complete with a mini-stocking. The tales in it are not solely Christmas based — in fact, they have very little Christmas to them — rather, they are more fall/winter related. The tales are strung together with musical interludes, but are most definitely separate stories and were not originally intended to be in this format.
Repurposing old stories into something new and different is not necessarily bad, and certainly in this case it works better than in Pooh's Halloween Heffalump Movie. That film made the mistake of trying to insert one story produced at one point in time into a different story produced at another. The result was a less than enthralling mash-up. Here, as the tales are not connected story-wise, and merely hooked together with new bookends to the piece and the aforementioned musical interludes, the result is better – though still far from great.
There are three distinct tales present in the film. The first is about fall leading to winter and the characters in the Hundred Acre Wood believing (due to some pages in a calendar flying off) it Groundhog Day instead. They then become quite confused as to why, if winter were ending, should it be getting so cold and there be snow. The second tale is a Thanksgiving story, and the last more of a Christmas-related one. There is a Christmas tree or two present in it, but there is no discussion of the holiday itself. The story is actually about Rabbit helping a small bird, Kessie, and Rabbit's having trouble allowing Kessie to grow up, instead.
The tales are all of the classic Disney version of Pooh variety. That is to say, that while Christopher Robin still speaks with something of a British accent, the characters are clearly in the States (otherwise they wouldn't be celebrating Thanksgiving) and all have the Disney's Hundred Acre Wood feel. However, being produced at different times and in different manners, there are several different looks to the animation – something even the youngest of viewers will catch as Rabbit goes from greenish to yellowish and back to greenish again. And, if that wasn't disturbing enough, some of the characters even take on a slightly different voice from one story to the next. Anyone trying to help preserve any sort of illusion about the characters for their kids might do best to show them this in pieces or not at all.
Viewed as a single whole, the stories don't necessarily work as well as they should, but taken as separate entities they function quite well. All the misunderstandings the Hundred Acre Wood creatures have lead toward several very amusing moments.
In terms of bonus features, the included stocking is more of the Christmas tree ornament variety than the hung-by-the-chimney-with-care sort. There are also two shorts (one approximately 11 minutes, the other almost 23) from The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh Saturday morning cartoon and games that allow your little one to color and decorate a Christmas tree.
The different types of animation present here lead to a less than stellar result, but the stories of the winter and winter festivities do seem like the perfect fodder for the Hundred Acre Wood characters to use as learning experiences. This is, unquestionably, not their best outing, but may make for an amusing and enjoyable holiday stocking stuffer.