Disney Reviews with the Unshaved Mouse #44: Brother Bear

 

(DISCLAIMER: This blog is not for profit. All images and footage used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. I do not claim ownership of this material. New to the blog? Start at the start with Snow White.)

Disney is proud of Atlantis. It didn’t make a lot of money, it wasn’t a huge critical success, but nonetheless they are damned proud of that movie. How do I know? Look at the DVD release. There are literally hours of behind the scenes material, concept art, excised scenes and a full visual commentary by the directors. All this is essentially the studio saying “Looking how much hard work and effort and craft went into making this film.”
The Brother Bear DVD has a commentary by two Canadian moose. Make of that what you will.
Why did no one warn me? Seriously? Why did none of you have the goddamned decency to let me know what was in store? Oh sure, you said it was bad. But there is a difference between saying “You know, trains can be dangerous if they hit you” and screaming “GET OFF THE TRACKS YOU IDIOT!!”. Hell, why didn’t Disney warn me? How could they just release this on an unsuspecting public? Okay fine, I don’t expect them to flat out say “Our movie is cinema’s answer to the Khmer Rouge” but they could at least have hinted in their marketing that some serious shit was coming our way.
Oh. My apologies.

Oh. My apologies.

Bad? Oh hell yes.
Worse than Dinosaur?
I…I…ohhhhh that is hard to answer. Do you take the flaming mace to the nutsack or the being forcibly fed live moray eels? Dinosaur is horribly deriviative, ugly and  deathly dull. Brother Bear, at least, is only one of those (the last one). It’s not a particularly bad looking film, certainly not jaw-dropping but not an assualt on the eyes either. And I certainly would never call this movie deriviative. Dinosaur’s plot is so rote you pretty much know how it’s going to play out within five minutes. Brother Bear though? Credit where it’s due, I guess, I would not have predicated the story choices this movie makes. It certainly tries to break the mold and try something different. But…”different” is not always “good”.
Well, that's different.

Well, that’s “different”.

I honestly have never watched any Disney movie so slack jawed with utter disbelief at what I was watching. Never have I stared at the screen, silently mouthing the words “No. NO! No. No…No.”
I wanted to give you some background on this movie, what they were thinking, who thought it, what punishment was eventually meted out to them but there is nothing really. Nothing on the internet, nothing on the DVD barring the moose commentary. And no, I didn’t listen to it. I don’t owe you that. I don’t owe anyone that.
Sigh. Let’s just do this.
Our story begins…
No. You know what? I refuse to take ownership for this.
Their story begins with an old Native American man named Denahi telling his tribe a story of him and his two brothers from the time when “the great mammoths still walked our lands”. I’m sorry, my little mouse brain isn’t so good with remembering, what’s Disney’s track record with Native American characters again?
pocahontas-06
300px-peterpan365
Peterpan-disneyscreencaps-5624
Hiawatha
Oh that Johnny
Okay, expectations suitably lowered then.
Denahi tells us that his people believe that the Northern Lights can work miraculous changes and that the greatest he ever saw was on his brother Kenai, a boy who desperately wanted to be a man.
So we’re introduced to Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix) as he tries to outrun a stampede of heroic  deer who are trying their damndest to nip this whole sorry mess in the bud.
Stampede

"Mufasa! Stampede! In the gorge! Kenai's down there!"

“Mufasa! Stampede! In the gorge! Kenai’s down there!”

"...And?"

“…And?”

Kenai leads the stampede to where his older brothers Denahi and Sitka are because he’s a massive jerk. Seriously, he’s just the worst. The three of them hide under a boat until the deer pass overhead. Denahi chews Kenai out and Sitka, the oldest, has to make peace between them. It turns out that today is the day Kenai becomes a man and receives his animal totem. Sitka and Denahi already have theirs, Sitka has the eagle (For Guidance) and Denahi has The Wolf (For Men. I mean, For Wisdom). Sitka tells Kenai to tie up their food so that no bears can get at it but he half asses the job and the food falls back to the ground. Kenai sees this but is in too much of a hurry and leaves it where it is. This one instance of slacking off is the inciting incident for the rest of the entire movie. Everything stems from this, to the point where every time I watch this movie I expect time travellers to appear at this scene who’ve travelled back to change history and spare the world from this movie. We also get a seriously weak song here written by Phil Collins and performed by Tina Turner called Great Spirits.You might remember that I really loved Collins’ work on Tarzan. Well, that was then. This is now, my friends. The bleak and terrible now. The three arrive at the mountain top where the tribe are already partying like it’s 1999 BC. The medicine woman asks Kenai if he’s ready to receive his spirit animal and he’s all like “fuck yeah!” and she tells him that it’s a good one. She then gives him his totem, the bear of love.
billie mae richards wlnd_tenderheart
Kenai is pretty embarassed about this. Now personally, if I was told my spirit animal was a bear I’d be struttin’ around like King Big Cock and asking where all the pick-a-nick baskets are at but in Kenai’s tribe bears are apparently symbols of love and nurturing.
Well of course.

Well of course.

Kenai gets teased by Denahi and angrily says that he doesn’t want the stupid bear totem and I’ll admit…there are the seeds of an interesting idea here. A boy who wants to be a warrior is told that to become a man he has to embrace his nurturing side, there’s all kinds of issues of masculinity and gender roles raised by that that could be interesting to explore. Actually, these first few minutes of the movie are by far the best. They’re not great, and in fact none of the three actors playing the brothers are up to much but I found myself relating to this part of the story a little. Maybe it’s because I too have had problems with my brothers.
"And so you see, dear Brother, with the amulet at last in my grasp, all the Earth shall bow down before me!"

“And so you see, dear Brother, with the amulet at last in my grasp, all the Earth shall bow down before me!”

"You monster! That amulet belongs to the villagers!"

“You monster! That amulet belongs to the villagers!”

"God, it's the same argument every damn Christmas!"

“God, it’s the same argument every damn Christmas with you two!”

Okay, so they get back to the camp and, would you look at that, a bear has stolen their basket of fish because Kenai is a Dumbass. I’m going to be using that expression a lot, so going forward I’m just going to type BKID as shorthand. Denahi is pissed because he spent two weeks making that basket aaaaaand maybe you’re just lousy at making baskets Denahi? Kenai, already in a pissy mood, says that he’ll go and get the stupid basket.
He finds the basket torn to pieces (Nice workmanship Denahi. I can see why that took two weeks) and sees the bear wot done it over in the distance. Alright, time for some interesting facts about bears:
  • They are the largest carnivores walking the earth.
  • They are incredibly intelligent.
  • They can run at over 30 miles per hour.
  • They can smell blood at distances in excess of forty miles.
  • They can climb, swim and smash their way through almost anything to get to you.

From this, we can extrapolate that the odds are good that at any given time somewhere there is a bear that could kill you and simply chooses not to. Which is why, everyday, I take a few minutes to get on my knees and thank my bear.

Oh mighty bear. I thank you. For in your benevolent ursine mercy you have decided not to kill me by smashing my head open with your mighty bear paw like a melon. Yea. Like a melon. I pray that you will let me live another day.

"Meh. I'll think about it."

“Meh. I’ll think about it.”

So just how stupid do you have to be to throw rocks at one? Kenai stupid, that’s how.
Accept no substitutes.

Accept no substitutes.

So Denahi and Sitka arrive just in time to see Kenai reap the fuzzy whirlwind. Sitka saves Kenai and Denahi from the bear by triggering an avalanche, sacrificing his life for his younger brothers. The bear survives and swims to shore and escapes into the woods. Kenai swears revenge. No, for real, he swears vengence on the animal who only attacked because of his provocation. BKID.
Denahi tries to talk him out of it, saying that following the totem of the bear of love probably doesn’t involve killing bears because you hate them so much. That, actually sounds like the opposite of what you should be doing. Kenai angrily says that love “has nothing to do with being a man”.
Barry White would beg to differ. Aaaaaaaaaw baby.

Barry White would beg to differ. Aaaaaaaaaw baby.

Kenai throws his totem away and goes off into the forest to find the bear and kill it with his little pointy stick. BKID. He finds the bear, and the two face off on top of a mountain.
Come at me
Denahi arrives and sees Kenai fighting in the distance. Through a  fluke, Kenai actually manages to spear the bear and kill it. He then climbs out from under the bears body, sees what he’s done and yells to the heavens for some fucking reason.
"You ah tearing me apart bear!"

“You ah tearing me apart bear!”

Suddenly the Northern Lights appear in the sky and Kenai sees visions of wolves, bears, eagles and basically all the animals that Marshall Bravestaar gets his powers from. An eagle turns into the ghost of Sitka to let Kenai know that if he thinks the great spirits are cool with him murdering his totem animal then he’s got news for him: The great spirits are not cool with that. Then some glowing blue tentacles descend from the sky and turn Kenai into a bear.

Okie dokie.

Denahi arrives at the top of the mountain to see his brother gone and this bear just sitting there like what the hell and so he assumes that the bear killed Kenai. And that is profiling, dammit! Kenai then trips and falls into the river below. BKID.

LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS!

LAZY BASTARD KOOKABURRAS!

And so Denahi decides that his brother was right all along and swears vengence on the bear. BDID.

Kenai wakes up and suddenly the art direction and colour scheme have become much more cartoony to reflect Kenai’s change of perspective. Also, the aspect ratio has changed from standard widescreen to anamorphic which is a big deal to people who care about aspect ratios. Kenai is being cared for by Tanana the Medicine Woman and he tries to explain to her what happened but she says “Kenai, I don’t speak bear!” What? No “listen with your heart, you will understand”? Kenai sees his reflection and realises he’s been turned into a bear and starts freaking out.
"Oh no! NOT A BEAR! OH WOE AND LAMENTATION!"

“Oh no! NOT A BEAR! OH WOE AND LAMENTATION!”

She tells Kenai that Sitka has done this to him and that if wants to change back he must travel to the mountain where the northern lights touch the earth and draws him a diagram on the ground.
"You must journey past the fish with terrible breath."

“You must journey past the fish with terrible breath.”

Kenai then sets off and soon runs into two moose named Rutt and Tuke (Rick Moranis and David Thomas). Okay, SCTV is not really a thing in Ireland so I’m just taking IMDb’s word on this one:

The moose, Rutt and Tuke are voiced by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, the same two who played the MacKenzie Brothers (two beer punks) in their shows and movie The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew (1983). With that being the case, they even act out Rutt and Tuke as the same nutty personality types as they did as The MacKenzie Brothers. Even using the same type of language, like their over use of the Canadian expression “eh”.”

First off, Canada? You did not invent the word “eh”. Secondly, good God but these two are not funny. They’re not horribly annoying either, but their scenes just go on and on and on and on and there’s nothing there. They’re the movie’s comic relief, in that they relieve us of the expectation of comedy.

Kenai sensibly leaves these two behind (it’s no good Kenai, they’ll haunt you like an unfunny Jacob Marley) and walks straight into a trap that leaves him hanging over the forest floor.  He meets a bear cub named Koda who’s voiced by Jeremy Suarez who is…a very nice young gentleman who’s doing the best he can. Alright no, that’s not fair. There’s nothing particularly wrong with Suarez’s performance but goddamn it this character is tough to take. I think this character is what a lot of you in the comments have accused Simba of being, the cocky, insufferable brat who just WILL NOT SHUT THE HELL UP. The basic character is the same, it’s just handled here with a lot less finesse and he’s pretty awful. Koda tells Kenai that he’ll help him out of the trap if Kenai takes him to the salmon run and Kenai agrees out of desperation. Koda gets him out but then runs off as he smells Denahi, who’s come to check on his trap. Kenai at first tries to greet his brother despite being a bear. BKID. But then Denahi attacks him and Kenai turns tail and runs. Both bears manage to escape and Kenai tries to welch on his deal with Koda, but then Koda tells him that he needs his help because he was travelling to the Salmon Run with his mother but then she went missing AND OH MY GOD NO MOVIE NO NO NO NO NO…
Ohhhhhhh boy. Okay, you’ve probably guessed where this is heading but I’ll just say it anyway. It’s his mother. The bear that Kenai killed was Koda’s mother. I repeat. The mother of the ostensably adorable bear cub was deliberately murdered by our hero.
There are movies where you could make that work.A Disney movie is not one of them.
I…I just. Wow. Okay. I’m game. Let’s see how this shakes out. How are they possibly going to dig themselves out of this hole?
Koda mentions that the Salmon Run is near where the lights touch the earth so Kenai grudgingly agrees to take him there.
Cut to pointless talking moose scene that goes nowhere and does nothing. And we’re back.
Koda and Kenai make their way through the forest and slowly a bond begins to form between yada yada yada, you know how it goes. Meanwhile, Denahi is tracking them all the time, getting more and more crazed each time the bears manage to escape his grasp and alright stop right there.
"What? What I do?"

“What? What I do?”

Denahi, if you’re going to be this movie’s villain we have got to do something about this look. And here at Unshaved Mouse, we’ve brought in some experts to give you a brand new, so-good-it’s-bad makeover. That’s right folks, it’s time for BAD EYE FOR THE GOOD GUY!
"“Facial hair, my dear boy, is the mark of any good male villain. The moustache makes the bastard.”"

““Facial hair, my dear boy, is the mark of any good male villain. The moustache makes the bastard.””

“Sharp white teeth strike fear in your opponent, let me see that snarl! Oh! Fierce!"

“Sharp white teeth strike fear in your opponent, let me see that snarl! Oh! Fierce!”

“Denahi, darling. Ask me how much eye shadow is too much?”

“Denahi, darling. Ask me how much eye shadow is too much?”

“How much…”

“How much…”

maleficent

“FOOL! THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH EYE SHADOW!”

Alright everybody, let’s see if our former goody two shoes is ready to be a fully fledged Disney villain!

Make 'em proud Denahi.

Make ’em proud Denahi.

Wow, they are just magicians, aren’t they? Yes. Quite a large number of them literally use magic.

Well, despite the power of eye shadow, Koda and Kenai reach the Salmon Run which is crawling with bears and we get a montage set to the song, Welcome. This is a pretty dire schmaltzy song about how all the bears just get along and love each other and always share and are one big happy family, oh crap just listen to it yourself.
Anyway Kenai slowly overcomes his hatred of bears and realises that they are actually a gentle, loving community.
As you can see here, where they play with the dead bodies of their prey.

As you can see here, where they play with the desecrated corpses of their prey.

 The bears accept Kenai as one of their own and they all sit around swapping stories of what they’ve been doing in the last year. Koda tells the story of his mother’s battle against three terrifying human hunters and Kenai finally realises that he killed Koda’s mother and it is just frickin’ hilairous. Sorry, I don’t mean to be cruel, but they do it with these ridiculous grainy flashbacks like they use in nineties thrillers. It even has the close up on Kenai’s face with the goddamn scary violin of tension in the background.
The whole time23Durden

"My God..I was Tyler Durden the whole time!"

“My God…I was Tyler Durden the whole time!”

Kenai runs off distraught through the forest and see the mountain where the Northern Lights touch the summit. He almost goes, but decides he can’t leave Koda without telling him the truth about what happened to his mother.Oh boy. This is going to be awesome. How in God’s good name are you going to pull this off, movie? How can you possibly do a scene where the hero has to tell an innocent child that he murdered his…why is the music playing? No. No no no no no. You cannot be serious.
THEY PLAY A GODDAMN SONG OVER THE SCENE WHERE KENAI TELLS KODA THAT HE KILLED HIS MOTHER.
ARE YOU SHITTING FUCKING ME?!
NO! NO! NO! YOU CANNOT DO THAT! YOU CANNOT…
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRGHGHGHGGHGHGHGHG!
This is it people. This is why I hate this movie. If it wasn’t for this, it would just be a really, really, dull unfunny cartoon but this pushes it down and down and down through the mantle of the earth’s core to where the fucking Balrogs live, right down into the very deepest levels of suck. This is just such a rare confluence of a terrible, terrible story choice and the absolute cowardice to not see it all the way through. You can’t take your story in such a horribly dark and inappropriate direction and then refuse to in any way deal with the emotional consequence of that. I mean, if this scene was actually presented as it should it would be absolutely devasating. Really, too devastating. I still don’t think it’s an appropriate story choice for a children’s movie but maybe I’m just being overly sensitive. Maybe it could have worked. But this is such cop out that it makes everything that went before completely pointless. Who cares if Kenai killed Koda’s mother? Just listen to Phil Collins sounding sad. Oh yeah, the song sucks too. Although I have to say, the lyrics are certainly appropriate.
There’s no way out of this dark place
No hope, no future
I know I can’t be free and I can’t see another way
Ain’t that the truth?
Anyway, Koda runs off in tears because Kenai told him he killed his mother. Maybe. I mean, I’m just guessing here. I assume that’s why Phil Collins is so sad but I certainly never heard Kenai say it. Maybe he just told him that they’re out of Coco Pops.
We cut to Denahi, freezing his villain moustache off in the mountains when suddenly he sees a badass looking eagle.
"Weirdos."

“Weirdos.”

He realises that the eagle is Sitka and chases after him through the mountains. And I really hope that is actually Sitka and not just a regular eagle.

"Stop following me!"

“Stop following me!”

Cut to pointless talking moose scene that goes nowhere and does nothing. And we’re back.
Actually no, that’s not strictly true. The moose scene does have a point. Koda is wandering in the forest and understandably distraught about the whole Coco Pops situation (or possibly his murdered mother, who can say?) and comes across Rutt and Tuke arguing. The brothers eventually reconcile and Koda realises that that’s what brothers do. They forgive each other. Nice sentiment sure, but if s0meone killed my mother I don’t think I could every forgive them. Even it was my brother.
"Oh will you just LET IT GO!"

“Oh will you just LET IT GO!”

Well anyway Koda decides to go to the mountain where the Northern Lights tough the earth to find Kenai. Meanwhile, Kenai arrives at the mountain only to find Denahi there. Denahi attacks and almost kills Kenai, but Koda saves him. Kenai then has to save Koda from Denahi and then, as Denahi watches in shock Sitka swoops in and turns Kenai back into a human. We get a few seconds of “Gasp! That was you!” and then Kenai sees Koda and asks Sitka to change him back into a bear so that he can look after him. Denahi tells Kenai that he’ll always be his little brother no matter what and Sitka transforms him back. Oh, and Koda’s mother is there to. Why not?
And then, as Denahi, Koda and Kenai watch, Sitka and Koda’s mother return to the spirit world.
He’s a ghost who turns into an eagle. She’s a dead bear. They fight crime.

He’s a ghost who turns into an eagle. She’s a dead bear. They fight crime.

***

No, it’s not as bad as Dinosaur. I can’t in good consience mark something that broke the mold as hard as this movie less than that utterly uninspired CGI piece of crap. But good God this is a bad movie. And worse than the terribly handled “Kenai killed my Mommy” plotline…it’s just dull. It is a slog to sit through. It is a boring, unfunny, lifeless mess. Greatness too often ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. Although the movie was made cheaply enough that it was a financial success, the reviews were not kind. Disney, more than ever, was seen as tired, exhausted and increasingly obsolete in the era of Pixar. The signs were everywhere that traditional animation had had its day. For lovers of this artform, everything now rested on the next movie in the canon. Could Disney finally prove to the world that the traditional animated feature, that distinguished genre with a lineage stretching all the way back to Snow White, was still relevant in the 21st century? Could they turn things around? Could they silence the doubters NO NO THEY COULD NOT THEY FUCKED IT UP FUCK EVERY DAMN THING.
Sorry. Spoilers.

Sorry. Spoilers.

Animation 14/20
Decent if unspectacular.
Leads 02/20
Unbearable.
Villain
N/A
Denahi fills this role for most of the movie but he’s not a villain. Not only does he redeem at the end but his motives were at all times understandable and at least somewhat sympathetic.
Supporting Characters
03/20
Want to know how weak the bench is for supporting characters in this movie? There are two comedy Italian-American mountain goats in this. They have maybe half a minute’s worth of screentime. Maybe six lines each. One scene and they’re done, gone, never seen again.
They out them on the DAMN COVER.

They put them on the DAMN COVER.

Music
07/20
What happened to you Phil? You used to be cool. Okay, you were never cool, but you used to be GOOD.
FINAL SCORE: 33%
NEXT UPDATE: 30 January 2014
NEXT TIME: A new era begins as the Unshaved Mouse reviews movies requested by you, the readers! First up? Coraline.
Watch the sass, Missy.

Watch the sass, Missy.

109 comments

  1. HELL YES CORALINE RULES.

    I saw this movie once about 6 or 7 years ago and don’t remember a thing from it. I have zero desire to watch it again.

    Two questions Mouse. First, how much longer do we have to donate? Second, has anyone asked you to review Millennium Actress? I’m still figuring out if I’ll really be able to donate, and if I do, that’s the movie I want you to review

      1. Oh man this is a really strong incentive then. I’ll probably end up donating in the next few days then

  2. THANK YOU for not writing Home on the Range for my birthday; that so extremely torturous. Anyways, this film is just dull and lifeless. The voice acting is really bad and they chose the wrong voices. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. We told you it was bad.

    1. I actually startined doing my own WDAS reviews, and I feel your pain about the earlier ones (I am writing Saludos Amogos as I type this). Bless you heart, and great review.

      1. Thanks. I am gonna start that movie today and from the reviewers I read, it is a mess; not looking forward to it. Saludos Amogis already bored me to death.

  3. I don’t mind two of the songs (“Great Spirits” and “Transformation”, especially if you can get the latter’s non-English version.) And I like, eh, maybe a third to half of this movie: stop watching after Kenai has been sent on his quest to find where the light touches the mountain and resume at the reverse transformation. The only part of bear!Kenai that I can stomach is when Tanana extrapolates for the viewers and throws her boot at Kenai. — (Speaking of Tanana, Mouse, may I safely assume 3 of the supporting character points are Tanana’s? For me, she’s definitely the most engaging of the secondary cast.)

    Oh, and since you’re complaining we didn’t give you a head’s up concerning the wrongness of Brother Bear, he’s the best warning I can give you concerning Home On The Range :

    OH HOLY FUCKING BALLS THIS IS A TERRIBLE MOVIE!!!! YOU WILL BLEED FROM THE EYES AND EARS!!! YOU WILL HAVE AN INSANE DESIRE TO RAM A FLAMING HOT POKER UP THE MOVIE’S ARSE AND BEAT IT TO A BLOODY PULP INTERNALLY!!!!! YOU WILL LOSE ALL HOPE IN HUMANITY AND GIVE SERIOUS CONSIDERATION TO RELOCATING YOURSELF TO BAHIA!!!! I hope this does not come too late.

  4. One more reason to hate this movie: that bear at the salmon run who has a rather frightening outburst in a language nobody can understand? He’s speaking Croatian, and the reason he starts laughing is because he has made a pun that only works in English.

    . . . .

    But don’t take my word for it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WwRUbYaXXM

  5. The only thing I remember of this movie from my viewing of it many years before is that the transformation sequences were an awful lot like Beauty and the Beast‘s, right down to the line “It’s me!” It’s never a good sign when a movie’s most memorable parts are the ones that remind you of far superior movies.

    At least we’ve got a good movie coming up next to wash the taste of this movie out of our mouths! As long as breaking your sacred oath to review only the Disney canon movies doesn’t cause the barriers between worlds to be weakened like it might have the last time you reviewed a scary stop-motion movie directed by Henry Selick, but hey, what are the chances of that happening?

  6. Well crap, how do I say this… I… um… I actually really love this movie. I know it’s me, I’m one of the seven people in the world who actually likes the Star Wars prequels (the others being the rest of my family) So I’ve always known I don’t have the best taste in movies. But allow me to defend myself
    – I really like the music (Seriously, how could you not notice that awesome Inuit-inspired chanting they did when Kenai turned into a bear?)
    – I actually think Rutt and Tuke are funny. (Yes, I know. I am easily amused)
    – I liked Kenai and Koda’s brotherly dynamic because it reminded me of myself and my own younger brothers (They’re annoying and think they know everything, yeah, but I love them and they’re an important part of who I am)
    – I always thought they played the song over the confession because there really are no words for that kind of thing, and music conveys feelings better. But yeah, that is kind of a cop-out.
    Anywho, feel free to send the lynch-mob my way when you get the chance. Also, looking forward to the Coraline review, that’s a really cool movie. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

  7. Even without garbage like Brother Bear and Home on the Range, I don’t think Disney could have saved commercial theatrical releases of traditional animation, considering distance between the financial success of Princess and the Frog and Tangled (though possible racism and Tangled’s artistic choices will forever leave us all arguing what’s the real reason) Still, Disney should have had more respect (and more intelligence) than to greenlight Brother Bear and Home on the Range.

    1. I think Treasure Planet’s flop was the final bullet to sink traditional animation. I still believe the DreamWorks marketing is why Tangled made so much more money.

  8. As someone who grew up mainly in the 2000s, I actually have the DVD. Apparently, in the deleted scenes, they really WHERE going to have Kenai tell Koda about his mother, and THEN play the sad song as Koda ran off. But they decided that combining the two would be better. And well, looking back on the movie now that I’m older, yeah, that was a mistake. I still like the movie, but that’s was nostalgia does to you I guess.

      1. I forgot how much Koda sounded and kind of looked like Simba. Wow. He’s just so similar to him but has such a subtle but glaring difference, it’s like some sort of cartoon uncanny valley.

        And is that really the same singer who did Tarzan’s soundtrack? That sure is a short time to make a fall like that, Phil. Egad.

  9. ‘Detective Sergeant Sitka sat back in his chair. He tapped a pen thoughtfully against his chin. “You know what’s bothering me, Constable?”
    Constable Ursa, standing up on her hind legs, gestured to the file on Sitka’s desk with a vicious black claw. “RRRROUUUUUURGH!” she bellowed.
    “Exactly,” said Sitka. “How *did* the victim manage to die… when he was already dead?”
    “ROOOARRRR, ROOOOWGHHH!” Ursa pointed out, with the conviction only a two-hundred-kilogram apex predator can possess.
    Sitka’s eyes widened. “We might not be dealing with a murder? How could that be?”
    “RRRRRR, RRRURGH, ROOOOAGH!”
    “A resurrection,” murmured Sitka. “Of course…” ‘

    I LOVE the fish with terrible breath. And I’m thrilled about Coraline! Nice to break up the Lost Era shockers.

    By the way, thanks for the reminder. The bear must be appeased. Excuse me a moment…
    (Hail Beary, full of grace – and salmon… may I never give you cause to do to me as was done to the sinner Grizzly Man. May I never give you cause to terrorise small Japanese villages. May your claws be sharp, may your jaws be ever powerful, and may the forest always yield food to fuel your great rampages. Amen.)

      1. Awesome! You guys book the plane tickets and I’ll see what I can do about the spiders in the guest room!

      2. Well, we’re all going to live in Australia, aren’t we? What with the weather, and the economy…
        Just found a nest of tiger snakes under the bed. Be right back.

      3. But what about your six-month lifeless icebound…
        What’s that you say, Wikipedia? “Ireland is warmed by trans-Atlantic currents and winters are generally ice-free”?

        I’m packing my bags!

  10. I think that’s the real reason why 3D animated film has been dominating over 2D animated film right there: Brother Bear got Phil Collins, WALL-E got Peter Gabriel.
    (By this logic, we’re gonna see Tony Banks start composing for anime).

    While I do remember liking Brother Bear, I also admit that the last time I actually saw it I was still in primary school. But even then I don’t remember being a huge huge fan of it or anything, the only parts that stood out to me were the more humorous bits… likely because 10 year olds like I was then aren’t exactly known for their sophisticated taste in humour.

    I also remember quite liking Coraline, which is odd considering that I don’t hold Neil Gaiman in the same regard as a lot of other people do (to put it mildly), though I have told that he himself had very little involvement with the film which probably answers my own question.

    Lastly, in order to make up for Phil Collins being un-awesome, here’s a clip from back when Phil Collins was actually awesome (i.e. firm; behind the drum kit):

    1. Corrections: Have *been* told that he himself had very little involvement” and “firmly behind the drum kit”. Sorry about the typos there.

  11. Great review, unshavedmouse! Although I have to admit that I actually like this movie. I don’t LOVE it, but I’d rather re-watch this over a handful of other Disney Canon films.

    That fish with the bad breath joke was epic!!! That should be your new tagline for the site after your “Have You Been to Bahia, My Friend” and the Oracular Pig quotes!

    Oh, so you’re doing “Coraline” next? Cool! So are you alternating between the requests and the Disney Canon? Like, “Coraline” in 2 weeks, then “Home on the Range” 2 weeks after, then another request 2 weeks after, then “Chicken Little” 2 weeks after, etc?

  12. The music was the only thing that I liked about this movie and only the Great Spirits, and Transformation songs. I found the other songs to be ok at first but I got tired of them quickly. I really like Phil Collins but I will admit he was weak in this movie.

    1. I seem to recall Kuzco’s name at least resembling if not outright, being a place.

      And fun fact, I’ve actually met a Zealand in real life.

  13. Aw man, I was hoping you wouldn’t tear into this one too bad. It’s nothing fantastic, but I liked it. =(

    But I am looking forward to you tearing into Home on the Range. Spoiler alert, I goddamn hate that film. But I guess I can wait because Coraline is good too.

  14. Whenever I list off the Disney canon for people, I usually forget this one. I mean, Home on the Range is just too terrible to ever forget (seriously, it made Alan Menken bad!), but this is just incredibly non-memorable. I mean, I don’t hate it as much as you do, except for some of the shitty CGI animation (fucking deer at the beginning look like floating blobs), and Koda can be rather… grating. But the scene where Kenai talks to him about “yo, dude, killed your mom, sup” I find legitimately sad. Anyway. It’s no Black Cauldron.

  15. I actually like the songs in Brother Bear (“Take a look Through my eyes” was the wedding walz of my sister)…I just don’t like the way they are used at some points.

    The sad thing about this is: I really liked what they were going for. I liked how they portrayed the natives, at people with faults, who simply have a different way of living. I like the scale of the animation in the beginning and towards the end (you were a little bit too hard on it if you ask me), and the decision to change format for the perspective of the bear is very interesting. I love the fact that there is no villain.

    But, yeah, the characters are pretty unlikable and the plot is unbelievable predictable. I think it would have worked way better if Koda were less upbeat and more like a child who just lost his mother. Dragging the revelation that she is dead out does nothing for the movie. It’s the typical “just because the characters have no idea it doesn’t mean that the audience can’t see it coming” situation.

    Nevertheless, I think Dinosaur is worse. I take failed ambition over dull repetition any day. As is The Black Cauldron. At least the plot of Brother Bear makes sense.

    1. Well said!

      Bear/ and Hunchback are two Disney movies that I think would have been stronger if they had aimed for an older audience and gone for a more serious tone through the whole thing (rather than trying to interject comedic sidekicks to keep things more kid-friendly.)

      1. Ah, well. At least it’ll be nice to take a break from the canon for a bit, though, like someone else in the comments, I feel you’re stalling on the “Home On The Range” review.

  16. The trio of villains and especially Maleficent was the only thing that kept my attention. It’s not a bad review but a bad film. But more of those villains cameos please, they were excellent. That eyeshadow bit was absolute genius and should be quoted everywhere

    1. Yes it was! Ironically, those three villains took the top 3 spots in Ultimate Disney’s Top 30 Disney Villains poll. (Maleficent at number 1, Jafar number 2, and Scar number 3)

  17. Great review as always, Unshavedmouse! Loved the villain make-over part of the review. I do see the flaws of this film and I do understand why people can really hate it, but I can still enjoy it. Some pretty nice animation, music (specifically the inuit singing. The songs are alright for me, just badly placed), and a nice climax at the end. Not in my top 10, but I don’t think it would be in my bottom 10 either. No, THAT honor goes to the next two films you will be reviewing in the Disney canon (in addition to Dinosaur, which you’ve already reviewed). I do believe that after seeing those ABOMINATIONS (I am, of course, referring to Home on the Range and Chicken Little), it wouldn’t surprise me if you begged to see films like this one (Brother Bear), Treasure Planet, and Atlantis 100 times over than see HotR and CL ever again. BB, TP, and A:TLE are, at the very least, AMBITIOUS failures. HotR and CL are just failures. Period.

    Looking forward to the Coraline review! I’ll have to see if I can check it out myself before your review goes up (as I haven’t seen it yet).

  18. I saw this exactly once and I honestly remember the ads for it more than the movie itself.

    Therefore I have nothing relevant to say about the movie.

    I liked Mini-Mouse yelling at you two about having the same argument every Christmas, though. That was pretty funny ❤

    1. Also:

      “You ah tearing me apart bear!”

      If he wanted to lie to Koda about his mom, I’m imagining it going like “This is boolshit, I deed not kill her. I did naaaaaaaaht. Oh hai bear.”

  19. My main complaint with the film also is the scene where Kenai reveals to Koda the truth of his mothers death, wth the terrible song. Originally, the scene had no song over t. There’s a clip on YouTube with the dialogue and rough animation. It does t redeem the film, but it’s much better than the scene in the film. I suggest you watch it.

    I also like the moose bc I am a fan of the McKenzie brothers, but yes they are pointless.

  20. Lol Mouse, this movie was a lightweight compared to the awfulness that is the one-two punch of Home on the Range and Chicken Little!

    In other news, yay Coraline! Are you a Neil Gaiman fan, Mouse?

      1. Fan of Terry Pratchett. By their powers combined…

        “‘Woss the matter with you?’ asked Big Ted, irritably. ‘Go on. Press “D”. Elvis Presley died in 1976.’
        I DON’T CARE WHAT IT SAYS, said the tall biker in the helmet, I NEVER LAID A FINGER ON HIM.” — Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens

        Best. Quote. Ever.

  21. I actually believe the scene with the Northern lights is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen on a film. Color scheme and contrast (cool water/fire) was excellent, the movement of animals lively and believable. Much better than Beauty and the Beast’s transformation scene (can someone please explain why the fucking sky started shooting marbles?!)

    So, yes. This scene was animation’s equivalent of a Roman orgy, and I’d gladly pleasure myself again by viewing it.

    The rest of the movie is the equivalent of a Roman lavatory. Clean, tidy, but still a shithole.

    1. Lol…It really sums the movie up very well. I enjoy the hell out of the more realistic sequences and the animation in it. But that there is this this pesky middle-part.

  22. Nice review! I don’t think I’ve ever watched “Brother Bear” all the way through, though, or I just don’t remember doing so. I certainly couldn’t recall the order of events, and the review refreshed my memory a little. I only truly remember it from the trailers and liking the bear transformation, but even then I was never motivated to watch it. That’s not a good sign.

    “Home on the Range”? Even LESS interest in that one. Never seen it. Again, the only draw to it is the fact that it’s done in traditional animation, but aside from that, no intrigue at all. However, seeing certain scenes (without dialogue), it kind of reminds me of some of the older Disney shorts (“The Three Little Pigs” shorts come to mind, with more dancing animals, though that could just be the farm animal theme), but with less thought put into the production. I kind of feel bad for making that comparison, but seeing the animation, it seems like that’s what they were going for (the bounciness~). But, again, I haven’t seen the movie, so I have no idea if that… “tone” is achieved or not, or even attempted; just an impression from the trailers. It does look like it’s really REALLY pandering to a younger audience, which is what turned me off to it.

    On the other hand, I’m excited for the Coraline review! That movie is so awesome, even if it’s different from the book in some ways (and Neil Gaiman encouraged the differences, and there were good reasons for some of them). Definitely a favorite. 😀

  23. Care Bears, eye shadow etiquette, sexually-ambiguous Brad Pitt…all of them as they should be…in one place in wondrous, immaculate unison.

    No, but seriously, you outdid yourself this time, Mouse. Had me splits the whole time. Now I can’t wait for Home on the Range. If it’s as horrible as everyone makes it out to be, we’re all in for Bahia-levels of mouse insanity.

  24. Brother Bear. Yeah, I think this is probably the one movie I kind of forget is a Disney movie most of the time. I mean, I guess it’s Disney-esque enough, and I didn’t completely hate it when it came out (though it’s really forgettable), I think by the time it came out, Disney was getting to the point where it stopped being The animated movie studio, so this one kind of suffered a new low by having some traditionally-animated Dreamworks movies that were more memorable than this one. I guess Treasure Planet shares this, but that one is at least understandable because I never managed to catch that one in theatres or otherwise. Brother Bear is pitifully meh enough that it vanished from the canon in my mind even after watching it in theatres.

    …Speaking of Treasure Planet, you may be wondering why I haven’t commented on it first. To explain, as I’ve stated above, I never got to actually watch that one. Having a certain neurosis for order which I think I’ve stated before, I decided not to read the review until I’d given it a watch first. I may not follow this rule with all your reviews, and will probably read your theses on the more minor CG movies a la Saludos Amigos/The Three Caballeros, but the traditionally animated and big CGI movies (in the Tangled vein) I’ll probably read after I’ve seen the movies myself, because I’m deathly allergic to spoilers (man, the year the Deathly Hallows came out was a tough one).

      1. Can you believe it, I never got to? Not being alive for its release may have damaged its chances.

        On the plus side, no Judge Doom nightmares, but I think the Disneyland Darkride freaked me out enough (or was that Mr. Toad, I always mix those rides up).

      2. I shall attempt, though I may end up having to do the same thing with it as I did with Treasure Planet.

  25. So on to the review. Yeah, I have to say, Atlantis struck me as being a movie really cared about. I remember watching the commentary because I’m a sucker for behind the scenes trivia, and I did get the sense a lot of work was put into it. As for Brother Bear, I have a feeling Disney didn’t warn you because they thought you’d know better. You figured the getting-on-a-train-track-means-a-train-shows-up-and-tries-to-flatten-you rule way back in the 60s movies.

    For the record, I’d pick being fed to the eels. At least my dead body would go to the cause of feeding animals; taking a mace to the crotch does no one any good. In any case, Mufasa’s apathy to Kenai’s plight cracked me up. I wonder if Mufasa isn’t too fond with Those Guys after getting ripped off back in the Renaissance. Speaking of Mufasa, funny that when this Disney hero actually gets his parental figure killed by actually provoking an animal to endanger him, he doesn’t blame himself. …Basically making Kenai Simba’s opposite. Flipside to the good movie, ouch. Though I guess it kind of does the opposite with Koda, being a worse version of Simba. I’ve also got to wonder if rejecting Baloo’s species as a totem counts as a crime against nature.

    Hmm, BKID. I like it. Also because it could double as a shorthand for “you’ve got to be kidding me”, which I take it would be in one’s mind seeing Kenai blow it time after time. And the Pocahontas throwback to spirit babelfish was perfect. So was the inclusion of the “you think you’ve got problems” bit whenever someone turns into an animal. As for the moose, yeah, I have a vague memory of them being not funny at all, I think the rest of it is blotted out. Maybe as a Canadian, it should be my do-right duty to apologize for these guys.

      1. Great, that probably means I’ll have a rancorous demi-cephalopod after me for eating her poopsies. Yeah, don’t think anyone wins either way there.

  26. Your makeover scene for Denahi is just plain perfect. Though it’s a wonder Cruella didn’t get in on it, what with her being an animal-killing fashion expert. In any case, gotta love Maleficent’s getting to zap Denahi brutally. Though I feel the need to correct Jafar, villainous facial hair is all in the beard. Where would you be without your oh-so-twisted goatee, Jafar? Well, I guess it’s like him to leave the best secrets for himself.

    Also, hush, Kenai, Everyone knows Tyler Durden is a tiger, as in the beats-the-smack-out-of-the-bear-every-time animal. He is the one they know as Hobbes. I wasn’t that analytically old enough to be as bothered with Kenai’s owning-up scene with Koda as you were when Brother Bear came out, but I’ve gotta say, Koda, you really fail at being your decade’s Simba if you can have your parent’s killer reveal their guilt to you without leaping at him, pinning him by the throat and loudly shouting “murderer!” You pitiful wannabe, you.

      1. Unless the tiger has a name relating to wrathful Star Trek villains. Or I guess unless the bear decided to take a nap and hear his own flattering obituary?

      2. Hmm, speaking of bears… Kenai’s spirit animal is the bear of love… The Black Cauldron was beaten by the Care Bears at the box office… Brother Bear beat The Black Cauldron in awfulness… coincidence?!?

  27. I forgot about Mouse Fury back there. Hmm, I take it he’s a Frozen fan, eh? And the picture of Sitka and the bear walking off got the Bare Necessities reprise stuck in my head. Maybe this movie could use some more groovy boogie tunes, the movies about people befriending bears and animal whisperer movies with Phil Collins that had them turned out better than this. Even the most recent baleful polymorph movie had some nice groove in it (made it in the title even).

    Looks like this is a good place to fit Coraline in. I have a feeling that like aforementioned heroine, you’re likely in need of a bit of enchantment and wonder in this upsettingly dull and unpleasant scene you’ve moved into.

    Great review, I bet it made wrath-hungry-hedgehog happy. And possibly makes up for your nuking him.

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