Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Despite the film’s cheap animation and the apparently varied origins of the source material, the picture consistently looked quite good.
Sharpness largely appeared excellent. A couple of shots from the Christmas letter segment seemed slightly soft, but otherwise the image showed a concise and detailed image. It consistently came across as accurate and distinct. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, and I also noticed no signs of edge enhancement. In regard to print flaws, I noticed none. The source material was clean and fresh across the board.
Dependent on the source material, hues appeared quite good. The only real concerns I noticed related to the odd coloring of some characters, but the DVD replicated the tones well. The various hues looked nicely bright and vivid, just like one might expect from this sort of project. Black levels came across as rich and deep, and shadow detail was also clean and appropriately opaque. Despite some issues mainly related to the cheap animation, Very Merry Pooh Year offered a consistently pleasing visual program.
Unfortunately, the Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack of Very Merry Pooh Year seemed less interesting. For the most part, the soundfield presented minimal use of the side and rear speakers. Music displayed erratic but generally acceptable stereo imaging. The instrumentation didn’t seem too well defined, but the score spread to the sides reasonably well. Effects also remained largely oriented toward the center channel. A few minor elements cropped up on the side; for example, panning occurred when Pooh and Piglet flew on a balloon, and wind blew across the speakers. However, this activity remained quite modest, and the surrounds never added anything more than general reinforcement at best.
Audio quality seemed decent but lackluster. Speech seemed acceptably natural and distinct, and I noticed no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Pleasantly, Eeyore’s voice displayed a nice tone of depth and resonance. Music seemed clear and reasonably accurate, but the score and songs failed to deliver much pizzazz; those portions came across as bland and a little flat. I felt the same way about the effects, which appeared fairly clean and concise, but they showed little range or life. They didn’t display any distortion or obvious flaws, but they also didn’t offer any spark or dimensionality. In the end, the audio of Very Merry Pooh Year was tame and bland but it seemed acceptable for the material.
Very Merry Pooh Year tosses in a small compilation of supplements. The DVD folks at Disney love their games, so Very Merry Pooh Year tosses in two of them. Covered in Snow requires you to answer some questions so you can then guess at which character resides under which snow pile. The questions seem very easy for anyone who watched Merry, and it’s also simple to select the locations of the three characters. You get no reward for successful completion of this dull game.
New Year’s Eve Party provides the second game. It requires you to select five items that don’t belong at a New Year’s Eve party. You then must match objects to the characters who you think brought them. When you successfully complete these two activities, you receive the “reward” of a New Year’s countdown. Whoopee!
If you’ve seen those video programs that show a roaring fire on your TV, you’ll know what to expect from Enchanted Environment. This a homey Christmas setting and also lets you choose to listen to music, sound effects, or music and sound effects. It’s inconsequential but kind of cute.
Disney’s Song Selection basically acts as an alternate form of chapter menu. It lets you jump to any of the film’s eight song performances, and it also allows you to show on-screen lyrics. Sing Along with the Movie expands the latter concept, as it presents the words while you watch the movie. Neither does anything for me, but someone might like them. One cool aspect of “Sing Along” it turns the words from white to yellow as the song progresses, which makes it easier for kids to follow along with the lyrics.
As the DVD starts, we encounter a mix of ads. We find trailers for Piglet’s Big Movie, Lilo & Stitch, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch’s London Adventure, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, and The Santa Clause. In addition, you’ll see these clips in the DVD’s Sneak Peeks domain, along with promos for Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Magical World, Rolie Polie Olie: The Great Defender of Fun, and Disney Interactive.
Merry includes a few odd Easter eggs. To the right of the main menu, you’ll see six boxes that resemble Pooh characters. Click on each of those and you’ll see a quick video montage related to the particular personalities. In addition, if you click the clock on the main menu screen, it’ll display the same countdown that acts as the “reward” for the “New Year’s Eve Party” game.
A lackluster piece of work, Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year provides something moderately enjoyable but nothing more. The program gives us gentle fun that seems watchable. It just never becomes anything memorable and distinctive. The DVD offers excellent picture along with mediocre audio and a weak package of extras. With a list price of almost $30, Merry seems awfully expensive for the slight entertainment it offers.