Based on an attraction at Disneyland, the Country Bear Jamboree, "The Country Bears" (2002) is one in a long line of live action Disney family films. The movie is a satire of Behind the ...
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Nicole Gale Anderson
Based on an attraction at Disneyland, the Country Bear Jamboree, "The Country Bears" (2002) is one in a long line of live action Disney family films. The movie is a satire of Behind the Music rock & roll bands. Beary, a young bear raised by a human family in a world where humans and talking bears coexist, attempts to trace his roots. He meets up with the Country Bears, a long-since broken-up band, a parody of bands like the Eagles. Beary helps the Country Bears reunite for one final concert, while searching for who he truly is. Written by
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This is kind of a first for me as a reviewer here at this Internet Movie Database, because I am weighing in on the inaugural film in an ambitious experiment at Disney: the first in a series of feature films based on the popular attractions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. And frankly, they could not have picked a better bunch o' folks to take on this first test than the Country Bears. Peter Hastings, one of the creative forces behind "Pinky and the Brain," makes his directorial debut with the story of Beary Barrington (voiced by Haley Joel Osment), who is the #1 fan of the popular musical group the Country Bears. The story has Beary seeking to reunite the foursome --- Zeb Zoober, Ted and Fred Bedderhead and Tennessee O'Neal --- and at the same time, questioning his perception about what family is. The Country Bears themselves broke up many years before, due to the usual personal squabbles that one may associate with a popular music group, ego being not the least among them. Meanwhile, Christopher Walken costars as the villain of the piece, a real estate developer who lost out to the group in a talent show 30 years before. He hasn't forgotten the loss, and he seeks to avenge it by destroying the Bears' base of operations, Country Bear Hall. Now young Beary must battle to reunite his favorite singing group despite their years of animosity, and stop the developer before he tears the Bears' Hall down. That Disney finally has given in to the requests of several thousands of theme park fans and dared to step up to the challenge of making a movie based on its own theme park characters speaks volumes about why they should have used their theme park characters on the silver screen years ago! After I had visited Epcot in October of 1985, I had so fallen in love with Dreamfinder and Figment from the Imagination Pavillion that I soon ended up wishing that Disney would give them their own movie. So in more than a larger sense, the Country Bears' movie brings back a whole mess of memories. Disney has done much with its theme park attractions for over 25 years, but until now, they never dared to put one of their park attractions on the big screen. Before anybody dares throw any brickbats at this film, I think the Mouse House needs to be thanked for finally listening to its fans for once. What's more this is just the beginning. Feature-length adaptations of two other Disney theme park attractions --- Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion --- are being planned even now; and of course, there was the Disney TV-movie from a few years back, based on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. So if you're willing to suspend disbelief, and listen to a bunch of bears make music that makes bears (and humans) happy, go see this one. Besides, you'll be doing the ghost of my mom a big favor. She always had this fondness for the Country Bears, though I never truly understood it until now. Maybe, I suppose, this movie was made for good folks like her.
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