Main cast: Joaquin Phoenix (Kenai), Jeremy Suarez (Koda), Jason Raize (Denahi), Rick Moranis (Rutt), Dave Thomas (Tuke), DB Sweeney (Sitka), Joan Copeland (Tanana), Michael Clarke Duncan (Tug), and Harold Gould (Old Denahi)
Directors: Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker
The bears are really cute in Disney’s latest cartoon Brother Bear. I want to adopt a few of them, provided they don’t do things like requiring toilet training. The bears in this movie are adorable and benign creatures that conduct motivational and soul baring chit-chat with each other. All they want is a hug and they are misunderstood creatures. Oh, those horrible Native Americans that hunt them down! Bears are harmless, why don’t we humans get it?
You know, it’s true: PETA must be funding the production this money because I sure have never encountered such unthinking over-romanticization of nature and animal interactions since, well, the latest noise from PETA.
Set after the Ice Age and before mammoths die out completely, this movie tells the story of young Kenai. Kenai, through his own negligence, causes his eldest brother Sitka to fall to his death when Sitka sacrifices himself to save Kenai and the middle brother Denahi from a bear. This bear is attacking them because Kenai provoked the bear into attacking in the first place. As a result, Denahi blames Kenai for Sitka’s death. Kenai kills the bear in question, but this angers the spirits of the Northern Lights (or something). As a result, Kenai is turned into a bear himself.
As Kenai attempts to find “where the light meets the earth” to restore himself to his human form, he will meet a young bear cub named Koda. Koda will teach Kenai that bears are actually anthropomorphic furry beasties that are just like you and me. Bears are harmless. Bears are benign creatures and all they want a place to dive, swim, and eat fish. Dumbed-down oversimplification of nature (hunting = bad, animals, or more specifically, mammals = good) is one thing, but when an entire movie revolves around an agenda that is truly cracked in the premise, ugh indeed. The truly moronic ending makes me cringe – it’s the final straw, really.
Instead of teaching the real reasons why we should respect nature, Brother Bear preaches a bizarre “animals are just like human beings, really!” philosophy using anthropomorphic bears that are more like plush toys than actual bears in nature. One can argue that documentaries, not Disney cartoons, should be held accountable for education and the main priority of Disney cartoons is to entertain and sell merchandise by the side. If that’s the case, don’t blame me when you go hug a grizzly bear and get mauled in the face by the annoyed bear as a result.
If this movie doesn’t preach and merely entertains, so be it – bring on the dancing bears then. But Brother Bear seems to be under the delusion that it is PETA’s latest soapbox, and by treating bears as cuddly little singing and talking pets instead of portraying bears that are even a little realistic. As a result, the bears are seriously cute, but this movie is all dumbed down and totally wrong about… well, everything.