I'm not gonna lie... I actually never heard of this film until recently, like, a couple of weeks ago. After hearing about it, I had to see it, and here's what I think:
As far as critical reception goes, most critics have never seen it, making me less embarassed to have never heard of it, and regular viewers seem to like it okay but don't seem to hold it in the highest of regards. Well, I'm here to tell you exactly what I think of it.
The story opens up with everyone excited for Easter. Apparently, it's a tradition in the Hundred Acre Wood for Rabbit to take on the role of the Easter Bunny and set up the festivities. Roo is especially excited as this is only his second Easter. However, everyone is soon disappointed when they discover that Rabbit has chosen not to celebrate Easter but instead celebrates Spring Cleaning Day. Everyone assumes he's simply forgotten about it until it's revealed that Rabbit really has no interest in Easter anymore and seems to outright despise it now. Most of the film deals with Roo and Tigger trying to fix things as best as they can while also figuring out exactly why Rabbit hates Easter so much now.
I have to say, for a Winnie the Pooh plot, this is surprisingly complex. I mean... this is not the first time a Pooh film has developed its characters, but this is the first time since Pooh's Grand Adventure that Rabbit has undergone a great deal of character development. Honestly, this is where the title sort of contradicts itself as Rabbit seems to be the true main star as opposed to Roo. Actually, something interesting to note regarding the plot is that it's basically A Christmas Carol with Easter and the narrator taking on the role of the three ghosts, using the book to show Rabbit the past, present and future. Tigger even hints at this fact near the end and in a way that's subtle but not completely. All-in-all, it works great and for a parody of Christmas Carol, it does a good job working as its own stand-alone creation and, hey, at least they didn't take the obvious route and have it take place during Christmas.
I gotta stop right here to mention something that shocked me when the movie started up. See, before the 2011 Pooh movie came out, Pooh films pretty much did away with the narrator and literal storybook feel, in which the creators actually acknowledge that these characters are in a book. Surprisingly, this movie does that from start to finish. The film even opens up with a live-action shot of Christopher Robin's bedroom... which is odd because he actually doesn't appear in this movie at all. You see the text appearing constantly, some interaction with it and, as I mentioned earlier, the narrator himself is actually one of the characters. We've seen him kind of take that role before, but here he plays a huge role in advancing the story. In fact, he assists greatly with Rabbit's development.
Now onto the animations, which I have to admit isn't as good as it could have been. Now, I could give it the benefit of the doubt as this is a direct-to-video feature, but keep in mind Pooh's Grand Adventure was made 7 years prior to this, was also direct-to-video and had animations that were almost good enough for theaters. The animations here are certainly good and look about as sketchy as the cartoons of the past, but they're inconsistent at times and even the actions sometimes look a tad underwhelming. In fact, there are times it reminds me of the 90's cartoon series in presentation overall, but I'll go into further detail on that later. Still, for what they are, the animations are good for direct-to-video but not as good as they could be.
Well, you can't have a Pooh movie without songs, so how are they? Well, they're good, they're enjoyable but at the same time... they feel more like traditional 90's Disney than Winnie the Pooh. In other words, it would have benefited them to bring in the Sherman Brothers for this. Easter Day With You is a great song, easily my personal favorite, but it doesn't sound quite like something that belongs in the Pooh universe. It sounds more like something you'd here in any other non-Pooh related Disney film. Even the simplistic The Way It Must Be Done sounds more like something you'd hear from the 90's TV series. There's even one song that's literally padding in which Pooh sings a minute-long number about how he's going to sneeze... I'd get after them for making a song about that, but Pooh films can get away with that sort of thing. Honestly, the only song I didn't care for was Roo's solo number, the reprise of Easter Day with you. It's an alright and cute song, but it doesn't do much for me. I don't know why. Still, as out of place as they are, the songs are still really good on their own and the writing is at least on the level of a typical Pooh creation, so this is a minor gripe.
As for the characters, well, they're portrayed correctly. Actually, I was a little bothered by how much of a jerk Rabbit was being at first until I found out he was supposed to be the Scrooge of this movie, and it works considering what kind of character Rabbit is. Honestly, my only real gripe is that Owl doesn't appear either, but honestly, that makes a tad more sense than Christopher Robin not wanting to spend Easter with his best friends in the whole world. (Probably spent it with his real family) Also, before I forget, the humor is really good. Once the narrator's role in the whole film is made perfectly clear, he is hilarious, especially when he talks to Rabbit in a ghostly voice. Tigger is hilarious as always and there are plenty of great moments involving the other characters.
All-in-all, I think this movie deserves a little more respect from the public. Granted, the overall reaction is positive, but still, I don't think people are giving this one enough credit. I actually think it's really good. It's sweet, the story, despite its obvious inspiration, works on many levels and it's just overall a very enjoyable film. Again, my only real gripes come from the animation and the songs feeling out-of-place for a Pooh film, and those are minor complaints. All-in-all, I give Springtime with Roo 8/10.