The Country Bears Movie Review

Never mind comic books and video games... Believe it or not, Walt Disney's The Country Bears is (to our knowledge) the first movie based on an amusement park attraction. What's next, It's A Small World: The Motion Picture? Maybe Journey Through The Hall Of Presidents? [No, but The Pirates of the Caribbean comes out in 2003. -Ed.]

In the film, a cub named Beary runs away from his human family to find his heroes, a defunct musical act dubbed The Country Bears. Beary knows he doesn't belong with the members of his foster family and is drawn by the promise that you can be "different" with the Bears, and still be accepted. But the Bears have more issues than an episode of Behind the Music. A sleazy banker (Christopher Walken) seeks to foreclose on Country Bear Hall if back payments totaling $20,000 aren't made immediately. Beary convinces the band to hold a reunion show to save their cherished performance hall. Unfortunately, getting the disgruntled musicians under the same roof becomes an unbearable challenge.

Entering Bears with low expectations helps. The consistent suspension of reality adds camp value, and the film boasts more cameos than Austin Powers in Goldmember, though most - including Willie Nelson and Bonnie Raitt - are plucked from the country music scene. The soundtrack mixes both country and contemporary selections, with artists such as Don Henley and Brian Setzer lending their singing voices.

But Bears is bad. Not "terrible filmmaking" bad, but more like, "I once had a nightmare like this, and it's now coming true" bad. Two inept cops on Beary's trail (played by Diedrich Bader and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell) do more harm than good, disrupting the languid road trip with exaggerated physical comedy that offsets the laid-back atmosphere and deliberate country style. Plus, the potential for a peculiar musical number is ever present, reminding us that Bears takes its inspiration from a show, not a pulse-quickening ride.

Which brings us to the Country Bears themselves. Constructed in Jim Henson's Creature Shop, the boxy, uncoordinated beasts elicit fear, not astonishment. Unlike the sharp, refined digital manifestations in Stuart Little 2, the Country Bears resemble the old school "man in a suit" creatures from early Godzilla flicks.

In this startling scenario ripped from The Twilight Zone, animatronic park attractions have come to life and assimilated themselves into our society ... and nobody notices nor cares. Actually, only one character, Beary's human brother Dex (Eli Marienthal), recognizes the utter weirdness of a human family adopting a bear cub and raising it as their own. But by preventing every other character in the film from finding fault in this, Country Bears creates an odd science-fiction paradox that it never overcomes.

Walken's presence certainly spices things up. It confirms my suspicion that in a world where bears can both talk and boogie down, Walken would be present. Along with Queen Latifah. Oh, and one of the bears would sound just like Haley Joel Osment.

You can take the bear out of the country but you can't take the country out of the bear.


Comments

The Country Bears Rating

" Grim "

Rating: G, 2002

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Contrary To Her Song Lyrics, Lana Del Rey Worked Her Way To The Top

Lana Del Rey is no stranger to vicious rumours, but she definitely did not...

Contrary To Her Song Lyrics, Lana Del Rey Worked Her Way To The Top

Weird Al Scores First U.S Number 1 With New Album

The album was released only one week ago and sold 103,000 copies to secure the top...

Weird Al Scores First U.S Number 1 With New Album

Peaches Geldof's Cause of Death Confirmed as Heroin Overdose

The second daughter of musician Bob Geldof, Peaches Geldof was thrust...

Peaches Geldof's Cause of Death Confirmed as Heroin Overdose

Robert Downey Jr.IS Iron Man... But For How Long?

You know who he is. Robert Downey Jr.’s involvement in the Iron Man franchise has been...

Robert Downey Jr.IS Iron Man... But For How Long?

Hercules Extended Trailer

Following his deadly ordeal of being put through the Twelve Labours by his father Zeus and his...

Hercules Trailer

Miley Cyrus Appears in Pharrell's New Video 'Come Get It Bae'

Cyrus also features on the track's vocals, and -perhaps most shockingly of all- resists...

Miley Cyrus Appears in Pharrell's New Video 'Come Get It Bae'
Advertisement

That Time Snoop Dogg Puffed Mary Jane at The White House

Snoop Dogg has joined Willie Nelson as weed-loving musicians who have smoked...

That Time Snoop Dogg Puffed Mary Jane at The White House

Gershwinner: Our Top 5 Billy Joel Songs

Billy Joel has long been regarded as one of music’s finest songwriters but it will soon be all more official...

Gershwinner: Our Top 5 Billy Joel Songs

Rob Reiner's 'And So It Goes' Is A Safe Bet At The Cinema This Weekend

Fresh from the critical and box office success of Behind The Candelabra, for...

Rob Reiner's 'And So It Goes' Is A Safe Bet At The Cinema This Weekend


More recommendations

Advertisement