Brother Bear falls below expectations

By
November 20, 2003

So you’re stressed and you need a movie to see. Blank graduate
school applications due next month are piled on your desk. The
research literature for a paper due too soon are sitting on the
shelves in the library, just waiting for that free moment you have
in your day when you can check them out. Well, this was my state
anyway when I went to see Disney’s new feature, Brother
Bear
.

Yes, I admit it. I am a Disney fan. And so, when I couldn’t take
academia any longer, I escaped with an animated film about Kenoia,
a wayward Native American boy who vows to murder a grizzly bear
after his brother is killed by one. But, you see, Kenoia needs to
learn how to live his life with love instead of anger and egoism,
and so after he kills the grizzly, he is transformed into a bear
himself by the spirits that linger ominously in the Northern
Lights. The only way to change back into a man is to find the
spiritual place “where the lights touch the earth.” On his way,
Kenoia meets up with a lost and feisty bear cub who knows just
where that spiritual place is. Meanwhile, Kenoia’s other brother
vows his own revenge on the bear he thinks killed Kenoia, that is,
Kenoia himself. And so the story is set.

Keeping in mind that I find Disney irresistible, I would not
recommend this film unless you too are a Disney enthusiast. The
story is very unoriginal: a journey; an “unlikely” partner – that
has now become so unlikely in films that it’s likely; and an ending
that’s so predictable that I could have written a summary of the
film without seeing it. The movie is overly sentimental in that it
is trying to teach a huge lesson and does not try to disguise that
fact. I do not mean to say that films should only teach lessons
covertly, not at all. But I would sure appreciate it if Disney
hired storytellers who were creative and skillful enough to teach
its lesson in a manner that has not yet been done in a billion and
two similar ways. Moreover, the music was highly disappointing.
Yes, I like Disney music and Phil Collins, I admit it. And yet, I
still found this music to be soul less in both lyrics and rhythm.
It was like listening to sounds manufactured from an assembly
line.

Yet, I suppose my main criticism of this film is quite simply
that it was too simplistic. The characters were two- dimensional at
their very best. What the storytellers lacked in character
building, they simply replaced with overt comedy that, while
hilarious, was obviously there simply because there was a
conspicuous lack in story.

Where has Disney’s storytelling talent gone? We haven’t had
another Lion King or Mulan or, for you more
traditionalists, Robin Hood. Need I remind people that
Disney once won an Academy Award for Beauty and the Beast?
However much you dislike the politics of Disney, you must admit
that they once had storytelling talent, but they seem to be lacking
it lately. Disney dialogue and music is now canned. Brother
Bear
is worth seeing once because the moose are funny. But if
you’re really stressed from those slave-driving Mills professors
and you simply must have an animated film to ease your pain, spend
your money and rent Pixar’s Finding Nemo. No need to hit the
theaters this time.


Brother Bear falls below expectations was published on November 20, 2003 in Arts & Entertainment

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