Disney’s “Brother Bear” tells the story of an
Inuit boy named Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix) who learns
tolerance by, of all things, becoming a bear. As the movie opens,
Kenai is still in his natural bipedal state and about to get his
totem necklace from Tanana (Joan Copeland), the village shaman
woman. The totem will guide him through life and mark his entrance
into manhood. Unfortunately for Kenai, his totem is love and
it’s in the shape of a bear. Kenai is not so fond of bears
and thinks of them as dumb, useless beasts.

Kenai is embarrassed by his totem and runs off after an argument
with one of his older brothers. His brothers come to find him, but
he is foolishly fighting off a bear. The oldest brother gets killed
in the battle and in revenge, Kenai kills the bear. That leads to
Kenai waking up the next morning as a bear in the woods, after
arguably the most psychedelic scene in Disney history. Even though
the movie tells us that Kenai is being transformed by the spirits
living in the sky, it looks like he gets beat up by the Northern
Lights on a mountain.

The rest of the movie tells the tale of Kenai’s journey
back to the mountain to try and get back to his old self. Assisting
him on the way is a hyperactive cub named Koda (Jeremy Suarez) and
two Canadian moose brothers named Rutt (Rick Moranis) and Tuke
(Dave Thomas). The wee bear and Kenai form a brotherly bond, all
sweet and nice until a twist pops up regarding Koda’s mother
that shows shades of “Bambi” shining through.

“Brother Bear” is a cute Disney movie that teaches a
useful lesson. The animation is old-school, with the animators
going all out for the Northern Lights scene, and the soundtrack
features a handful of new songs by Phil Collins featured in Dolby
Digital. As in other Disney sets, there are plenty of extras,
including a humorous audio commentary by the moose, an entertaining
gag reel, three deleted scenes and a handful of informative
featurettes with the film’s animators .

All things considered, “Brother Bear” is an
entertaining kids movie that keeps up the usual Disney tradition of
fun and music, with an appealing ending that tugs on the
heartstrings.

 

Movie: 3 out of 5 stars

Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars

Features: 4 out of 5 stars

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