Category Archives: Archived Movies


The Disney company, which has been making featurettes and TV
shows with the gang from Pooh Corner since 1966, here offers
their first effort designed for the big screen, a gentle, soft-
grained comedy-with-music that’s the cinematic equivalent of
a plush stuffed animal. Younger tykes, many of whom have been
brought up on the characters, should find the result quite
entrancing, while adults who accompany them will be mostly
charmed by the whimsical tone, the occasionally bright score,
and the malaprops regularly inserted into the script. And the
animation, while hardly cutting-edge, is often quite
beautiful in its effects.

There’s one problem, which is that the plot fashioned by Jun
Falkenstein, in which the title tiger searches futilely for
his family only to conclude that the cuddly beasts he’s lived
with all along are his real one, has an awful lot in common
with the recent “Muppets from Space,” wherein Gonzo learned
the same lesson. But the bond that exist among friends isn’t
a bad lesson for children to be exposed to, even in duplicate.

And the tone of “The Tigger Movie” is much sweeter and more
toddler-conscious than that of the Henson group’s picture.
While it has its share of action scenes which kids will respond
to with some vocal enthusiasm (Tigger bounds about with great
abandon, and there’s a big avalanche at the close), as a whole
it’s quite old-fashioned, almost quaint, in giving Eeyore the
room to be properly dour, and Piglet (still voiced by the
venerable John Fiedler) the space to be almost preternaturally
quiet. There’s also time for a lovely, lilting lullaby sung
by Winnie the Pooh (voiced, as is Tigger, by Jim Cummings,
who does a fine job of imitating both Stirling Holloway and
Paul Winchell) to some protective honey-bees.

In sum, “The Tigger Movie” is like a pleasant, undemanding
visit with old friends. It doesn’t have the visual pizzazz of
either “Tarzan” or “Toy Story 2,” and some parents may prefer
to await its eventual arrival on video, where their children
are accustomed to see these characters. But on the big screen
it offers a fine opportunity to introduce smallfry to the
wonders of the theatre experience, and at a mere 76 minutes it
certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome.


Films that take religious issues seriously are so rare that one
has to be tolerant even of those that are deeply flawed. It’s
easy, on the one hand, to dismiss a travesty like “Stigmata”
for the trash that it is. On the other, one can’t be blinded
the obvious sincerity of “The Third Miracle” into ignoring the
fact that it has some serious problems, too.

The plot is concerned with an investigation by the Catholic
Church of the possible sanctity of a recently-deceased Chicago
housekeeper; the probe is carried out by a priest (Ed Harris)
on behalf of the local diocese, and his positive finding is in
time challenged by a Vatican archbishop who takes the role of
“devil’s advocate” opposing the proposed canonization.

This central element of “The Third Miracle” is handled very
well. The treatment of the parish where the marvels attributed
to the candidate are occurring is nicely shaded, with the
pastor and the believers portrayed without the crude
exaggeration one often finds in such circumstances. The
seriousness of the process, moreover, is expertly caught.

But once all that is said, the fact remains that what might
have been a powerfully moving film has unfortunately been
compromised by recourse to some very obvious and unconvincing
dramaturgy. First, the investigating priest, or postulator in
the ecclesiastical lexicon, is saddled with a seemingly
inevitable “crisis of faith” which leads him into a romantic
entanglement with the agnostic daughter of the candidate for
canonization. This is frankly a lazy and rather offensive
device to insert some conflict into the larger story, and it’s
completely unnecessary, too. Happily the performance of Ed
Harris, as the troubled priest, is so elementally strong that
it allows the picture to get past this difficulty less maimed
than one might have expected. As the daughter, on the other
hand, Anne Heche is barely tolerable, overemoting dreadfully;
but then, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could have dealt
successfully with so thinly-constructed a characer.

A second major flaw lies in the figure of the Vatican bishop
sent to dispute the postulator’s finding. He’s written as so
smug and officious–you can tell he’s a worldly, false-hearted
prelate, it seems, from the fact that he likes good food and
listens to classical music–that he becomes a caricature of
churchly imperfection. And he’s played by Armin Mueller-Stahl
with such venomous snideness that you’d think he was
auditioning for the role of Snake in the Garden of Eden.

There are other difficulties, too, mostly arising from the
very literary quality of the material, which probably worked
better on the page than it does on the screen (the final
revelation involving a flashback to World War II Europe, for
instance, makes sense, but can’t help seeming artificial in
cinematic terms, though in a novel it might work perfectly
well). But on the whole director Agnieszka Holland has
managed to play to the script’s strengths while concealing its
weaknesses as much as possible. Holland has had a varied
career, with works ranging from the superb “Europa Europa” and
“The Secret Garden” to the unjustly neglected 1997 version of
“Washington Square” to the abominable “Total Eclipse.” Here
she’s managed to create a film which, while imperfect, at least
tries to deal with important themes in an honest and symathetic

“The Third Miracle” has its faults, therefore, but its basic
integrity of vision makes it one of the few pictures on a
religious theme that one can take seriously. It neither offers
easy answers nor cops out at the end, and so becomes a rare
thing, an admirable if flawed cinematic attempt to consider
the possibility of divine intervention in human affairs.