The Country Bears
Basing a film on a Disneyland attraction ‘The Country Bear Jamboree’ might not be the most creative film making but then that’s not really surprising coming from the Mouse’s House who have produced some unimaginative films of late – including Cinderella 2, The Jungle Book 2, Peter Pan 2: Return to Neverland. They only people who would enjoy a film like The Country Bears are either under five’s or Country and Western fans (who have the mentality of five year olds
Young Beary Barrington (voiced by Haley Joel Osment) is an average 11 year old, teased by his older brother Dex (Eli Marienthal) and living with his adoring parents. Oh, and by the way he also happens to be a four foot tall bear cub – no matter how much his parents deny it.
Finally realising that he might be different, Beary decides to run away and travels to a log-cabin where he expects to find his favourite band The Country Bears residing. When he arrives, to his horror, he discovers that the bears cabin is about to be destroyed by an evil banker (Christopher Walken). It turns out that the Bears owe six years rent which equates to $20 000.
Beary realises what he must do and with the help of one of the Country Bears, Henry (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) he sets off to find the remaining scattered Country Bears and to convince them to reunite for a concert to save the cabin.
Unbeknown to Beary, hot in pursuit are two dumb cops, officers Hamm and Cheets (Daryl Mitchell and Diedrich Bader) who erroneously believe that the Country Bears have kidnapped Beary.
That’s it as far as the plot goes – a pretty dire spin on The Blues Brothers. The Country Bears is a very poor affair even for a children movie. The film is best described as forgettable and thankfully nothing really lingers in the audience’s memory afterwards. The characters are lifeless and uninteresting with the exception of Christopher Walken, and even a host of cameos don’t really do it any favours either.
The animatronic bears at times do look quite good but then in the very next shot they look like rejects from some taxidermy nightmare. There is nothing of any real inspiration in the special effects. The other problem is that all the bears look alike, separated only by the fact that they wear different clothes.
Performances are dire with the even accomplished comedic talents such as Diedrich Bader and Daryl Mitchell are reduced to stupid caricaturist behaviour. Only Christopher Walken manages to raise a laugh or two with his performance being more over the top than usual – for further proof just check out his performance as an irate arm-pit fart noise musician.
Overall The Country Bears is a soulless and heartless attempt at film making that only very young children might enjoy. Even with a host of cameos (Elton John, Queen Latifa, Willie Nelson and a host of Country and Western stars/wannabes) the film never raises its levels to anything that is laugh worthy.
Being a film about singing bears there are the obligatory musical numbers, written by folks and blues man John Hiatt. Unfortunately like many recent Disney songs, they are instantly forgettable and even before the end of the film it is difficult to remember them.
Apparently Disney is poised to make more of their rides and attractions into adaptation for the silver screen such as Haunted Mansion and The Pirates of the Caribbean, hopefully they will see the light and leave the rides for the theme parks and concentrate on the business of making new, fresh film.
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