Movie Review: Bears by Jason Burleson

Bears PosterI’m not sure if I was given Bears to review because I work with animals or not, but I knew I was going to hold it to high standards.  I love bears.  They are one of my favorite mammals, and it’s even cooler that they filmed Bears in one of my favorite places, Alaska.  While I understood this movie probably wouldn’t have the same high level special effects like other films I’ve reviewed, I wasn’t going to let that stop me from enjoying an awesome eco film for kids.  Somehow we all remain kids at heart, especially when it comes to animals, so I was looking forward to this film.

If you’ve ever seen one of DisneyNature’s animal movies, the film Bears fits the bill. It’s exactly as you would imagine.  With a fine mix of natural history built for children under the age of 10, DisneyNature manages to fit in a fun story as well.  The film introduces you to a mother brown bear and her cubs.  Sky is a first time mother and the film showcases the epic journey she must endure in order to provide for them and keep them safe.  She meets lots of hardships along her way, which, in my opinion, is important for every young child to experience.  The film is full of cuteness with both impressionable cubs following Sky in tow.  Amber and Scout make an interesting duo that every child could find enjoyable.

Bears 3The trio travel from their den in the mountains of Alaska all the way down to the Alaskan Peninsula for the annual salmon run which happens to be the inaugural trip for many bear families living in Alaska after hibernation.  Along the way, Sky has to learn how to deal with trials and tribulations forced on many new mothers.  Including obstacles like wolves, bears, changing ecosystems, and the constant struggle to find food, the family fights for survival together in a way that only bears can.

It should be said that not everything in this film is rainbows and butterflies.  There are some moments in this film that should be explained to younger children because it reminds us that everything in life is not easy.  However, this film is not short on surprises either so keep an open mind.  The wonderful part is that it gives parents the opportunity to discuss things with their children.  This film is meant to be a moment for discovery, learning, and enjoyment not hard times and distress.

Bears 5This film is also narrated by a new voice talent for DisneyNature, John C. Reilly.  His spirited tone of voice adds a whimsical feeling to their magical decent into maturity.  Just like in many other DisneyNature animal movies, Reilly adds his anthropomorphic twist on the life events of the cubs as they grow up.  This adds a child-like look into moments like meeting a few hostile adult males (Chinook and Magnus), hungry wolves, struggling to cope with avalanches, changing tides, and temperatures of all sorts.  However, he has a gift with the kids in the theater.  Several groups were laughing at the somewhat sillier moments of the film.

I have to say, as serious as I try to be, Bears is an excellent, fun, and interesting movement into the life of bears.  It filled me with an enjoyable, moving and excited feeling of wonderment as I watched the family deal with the dangers of real life.  I haven’t seen a film like this since The Fox and the Hound or Milo and Otis.  This is the kind of film that gets kids into loving animals again or for the very first time.  Not to mention that the wide open spaces and sights give the audience a tangible freedom.  While this film is not going to win best performance or screenplay, it will be a good chance for you to sit down with little Billy and talk about how cool bears are, how funny that little bear somersault was, and huddle close when  the wolves and bears alike scare the superman underwear off of you.  Get yourself a Sprite, buy some M&Ms, find your favorite blanket, and enjoy this moving film.  You will not be disappointed.

I give Bears 3 “delicious pieces of salmon” out of 5.

by Jason Burleson

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