The Country Bears

"Weak"

The Country Bears 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.



The Country Bears

Facts and Figures

Run time: 88 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th July 2002

Box Office USA: $16.9M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Distribution Compa

Production compaines: Walt Disney Pictures, Working Bear Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 30%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 56

IMDB: 3.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Peter Hastings

Starring: as Beary Barrington (voice), as Officer Cheets / Ted Bedderhead (voice), Candy Ford as Trixie (voice), as Big Al (voice), as Fred Bedderhead (voice), as Tennessee O'Neal (voice), as Henry (voice), as Zeb (voice), as Reed Thimple, as Norbert Barrington, as Officer Hamm (as Daryl 'Chill' Mitchell), as Roadie, as Rip Holland, Meagen Fay as Mrs. Barrington (as Megan Fay)

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

xXx: Return of Xander Cage Movie Review

It's been 15 years since Vin Diesel walked away from his XXX role, killing off...

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Advertisement
Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.