(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from Brother Bear. The song "Great Spirits" by Tina Turner plays in the background)
Doug (vo): When I agreed to do Disneycember, Brother Bear was one of the films I was looking the least forward to reviewing. [The poster for Disney's next animated feature, Home on the Range, is shown briefly] Okay, not the least, but we'll get to that one later. I remember seeing the trailers for it and just looking incredibly uninterested and, yeah, I guess everybody else did, because the film apparently didn't do very well. Well, I sat down, I watched it, and I have to say, at first, I was frigging blown away by it.
Story and reviewEdit
Doug (vo): The people were likeable and the myths were likeable. All I was saying to myself was, "Holy smokes! This is what Pocahontas should have been!" I was getting invested in these characters, I was getting invested in what happened to them. One character passes away very early on, and you know what? I was really sort of torn up about it. The music was nice, the animation was nice; I was totally digging it. And then our main character turns into a bear. This...is where it all goes downhill. Okay, let me clarify, I have no problem with the main character turning into a bear to learn a lesson. In fact, I was actually against it when I heard about it, but seeing where they were going with everything, I was actually pretty excited now. They handled everything else so well, I wanted to see what they were gonna do with this. What they do with it...is about as predictable and boring and lame as you can imagine. You see, the Spirit of the Mountain or, something like that, takes the body of a young man who's looking for revenge on a bear, and actually turns him into a bear. Well, he, of course, wants to turn back to human and comes across some colorful characters along the way. One of them is a little cub named Koda. He hangs around him for a bit because, apparently, he got separated from his mother. [Speaks sarcastically] Well, gee, I wonder what happened to the mother? [Speaks normally] I won't give anything away, but, let's just say, something happened to the mother. And you'll be really dumbfounded that throughout this entire film, the main character never figures out what happened to the mother. And throughout the whole film, the bear is trying to get to the top of the mountain to figure out how to change himself back. All the while, his human brother is trying to track down and kill the bear because he wants vengeance, too.
[One of the film's fight sequences are shown]
Doug (vo): So, in a clever bit of writing, there's no real villain, there's just a great big misunderstanding. The brother wants to kill the bear for a reason we can all understand: he wants revenge for his brother. And, while, of course, we see it's mislead, we can sense the passion and the love that he had for his brother, hence why he's going to such violent needs.
[Both the animal scenes and the human scenes shown throughout the entirety of the movie are shown]
Doug (vo): In fact, this whole story turned out to be a pretty good setup. It had a good beginning and it had a good ending. But like I said, the middle is where the problem comes from. When the animals have to talk, it's pretty annoying. The language the humans have for the most part is pretty timeless. But here, the animals say stuff like, "dude" and, "I spy" and, they pinky swear, and do all sorts of other modern things that people do. And I'm sorry, that's really distracting. And on top of that, it doesn't make us connect as well to the characters. What you were doing before was great. We were connecting with the people because we were connecting with their culture, and their passion, and their beliefs, and their myths.
[We are shown a scene of the two Canadian moose, Rutt and Tuke, arguing. Note: Those moose are voiced by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas, known for playing Bob and Doug McKenzie from SCTV]
Rutt (Moranis): If I was driving, this never would've happened.
Tuke (Thomas): Oh, just stop it!
Rutt: You never let me drive. I can't believe you totalled a mammoth.
Doug (vo): That kind of takes us out of the magic. The kid he has to look after [Koda] is really annoying. Again, you have to be really careful with a little boy who's trying to act tough, because that can either turn out really annoying or really charming. This is really annoying.
[Several of the film's song montages are shown]
Doug (vo): Surprisingly, at first, I was really getting into the music. Yeah, I thought it was sounding really nice. I saw that Phil Collins was attached to this and I dreaded it, but when I was hearing that opening music, you know what? I was really into it. [Beat] But then...
[One of the songs, "On My Way", sung by Phil Collins, is shown]
Phil Collins: [singing] With the sun beating down...
Doug (vo; sighs): You just couldn't stay out of it, could you, Phil? Okay, well, maybe it'll just be like Tarzan, where he's kind of annoying but he's not actually ruining anything...oh, wow.
[An emotional scene, showing Kenai telling Koda the truth about what happened to his mother, is shown, but with Phil Collins' song "No Way Out" playing over it]
Phil Collins: [singing] I'd do anything within my power...
Doug (vo): The bear is telling the cub what happened to the mother, and Phil Collins is singing over it.
Koda: I don't like this story.
Phil Collins: [singing] You trusted me...
Doug (vo; angry): Oh, I...ju...fuck you, Phil Collins! Fuck you! Or fuck the person who put the song here or fuck the person who had the idea of putting a song here or write a song about...FUCK SOMEBODY! This is the worst placement for a song ever! Guys, why couldn't you just go with the musical score here? I mean, really? You need Phil Collins to come in and sing... [Imitates Phil Collins, but sounding more like James Brown] "It's sad! This part is sad! You're supposed to cry right now! The bear is sad! Oh, look, he's really torn up! I'm not gonna let the scene just play, I'm gonna tell you how to feel! Oh, I'm Phil Collins!" [Speaks normally] Fuck you!
Doug (vo; sighs): So, yeah, the obvious plot that anybody can figure out, the modern talk, the Phil Collins songs, you'd really think I hate this movie, and...well, yeah, I do really hate parts of it, but, damn it, those other parts are so good! I mean, talk about being so close and yet so far! Well, again, morally, I guess nothing bad is being said, and I guess it could be worse. I mean, they don't quote any movies or anything like that or at least not that I remember. But, D'OH, it was so close! You almost had this really perfect, wonderful Disney movie and just...OH, PHIL COLLINS, MODERN TALK, PINKY SWEAR...AAH-YAH-YAH-YAH! Oh, it frustrates me. [Calms down and speaks normally] But, on the other hand, I guess I really didn't expect anything to come out of this movie, and to have the good parts that did come out of it, I guess that was pretty cool. And you know what? It is nice to see that Disney can still get some culture in their animated films. Now whether or not the culture is correct, I don't know, because I myself have no culture. But, even if it's not, it still makes for interesting myth and interesting stories. So, yeah, I love the beginning, I love the ending, the middle can suck it. Yeah, I realize this review is kind of all over the place, but that's really what I thought about it. Would I see it again? Probably not. But I guess I am glad that I did in fact see it once. Hopefully, you can take what I said and also sort of look at the trailer and see if this is something that'd be up your alley. Well, either way, take a look at it and see for yourself.
[One of the film's final scenes, showing Kenai, transformed back into a bear, playing with Koda and Denahi, is shown as "Great Spirits" ends]