Disney Animated Marathon: Brother Bear (2003)

Movie #45 in the Disney Animated Marathon asks the age old question, to be a bear or not to be a bear?

Screenplay By: Steve Bencich, Lorne Cameron, Ron J. Friedman, David Hoselton & Tab Murphy
Directed By: Aaron Blaise & Robert Walker

I never like when I come away from a film with the reaction of, “meh.” I don’t like that reaction at all, I hate when it happens, especially when it’s a film I plan to write about, because I know the review will be a struggle for me. Sadly, when the end credits began to roll for Brother Bear my reaction was the dreaded, “meh.” I tired to muster strong feelings one way or the other, but alas none could be found. That makes me a distraught panda, a very distraught panda indeed.

Brother Bear is the most average looking Disney film I have seen in some time, at least movies like Hercules and Treasure Planet tried for something a bit off the beaten path. Outside of suffering from the same painful CG integration in places that Treasure Planet did, Brother Bear brought nothing to the table animation wise to either wow me or make me go, “ewww.” The same is true of its characters and the voice work of its actors. I never connected with any of the characters or really cared about what happened to them. Most of all I think it was obvious to the ear that the voice actors were phoning their performances in, Brother Bear features some of the most uninspired voice work in a Disney animated production. Again, it’s middling, not awful or great, and that leaves me sitting here wanting to say, “meh” over and over again.

You know what, Brother Bear is more than “meh” in one area, but not in a good direction. The music by Phil Collins is sleep inducing. Admittedly I’m not a big Phil Collins fan to start with, but come on Phil, and Tina Turner, give me some emotion to work with. They slog through their songs, and that makes the film a bit of a slog to get through. Usually at the very least the music in a Disney animated film will liven up the scene or give me something to think about. In Brother Bear I wanted the music to go away, far far away where I would never have to hear it again.

Outside of that harsh last paragraph, my feelings towards Brother Bear are still in the “meh” realm. I didn’t hate it, I didn’t love it, Brother Bear is the very definition of a film that just sorta is, if you know what I mean? I wish I had more to give you, but outside of the music ticking me off, nothing in Brother Bear elicited a strong reaction from me one way or the other. Maybe you’ll get more out of Brother Bear than I did, in fact I’m sure that a lot of people will, both positively and negatively. All I can say, is what I’ve been saying all along, “meh.”





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