Film: Brother Bear

Cover image
Film:

Brother Bear

Director: Robert Walker, Aaron Blaise
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Walt Disney Video

Brother Bear has a dramatic story—after he kills a bear, a young hunter named Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator) in prehistoric North America is turned into a bear himself and hunted by his own brother—but the animated movie’s tone is more earnest and warm than tragic, focusing on the unfolding relationship between Kenai and an orphaned bear cub named Koda (voiced by Jeremy Suarez). However, it’s often the comic supporting characters who prove the most popular, and a pair of moose voiced by Rick Moranis and Doug Thomas in their McKenzie…

Reviews

Amazon.com

Brother Bear has a dramatic story—after he kills a bear, a young hunter named Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix, Gladiator) in prehistoric North America is turned into a bear himself and hunted by his own brother—but the animated movie’s tone is more earnest and warm than tragic, focusing on the unfolding relationship between Kenai and an orphaned bear cub named Koda (voiced by Jeremy Suarez). However, it’s often the comic supporting characters who prove the most popular, and a pair of moose voiced by Rick Moranis and Doug Thomas in their McKenzie brothers/Canadian dude mode (from SCTV and the movie Strange Brew) will win many fans. The songs by Phil Collins are typically negligible, but the hand-drawn animation is lush (occasional flashes of computer-generated animation clash with the movie’s overall look). Kids will also enjoy the mammoths; no sabre-toothed tigers, unfortunately. —Bret Fetzer

Barnes and Noble

Nominated for an Academy Award, this mystical coming-of-age fable offers a compelling story, some awe-inspiring animation, a menagerie of cute and comical critters, and power anthems by Phil Collins. Brother Bear also marks, if not the end of an era, at least an interruption, as Disney famously closed its Florida animation studio after completing the production. The film’s lead character is Kenai, an Ice Age youth eagerly awaiting his manhood ceremony, where he will be given the totem that is said to guide its owner through life. Kenai is disappointed that his totem is “love,” even though it’s regarded as the most precious of all. But what’s love got to do with it when a bear kills his brother? The vengeful Kenai hunts the beast down and kills it, only to be transformed into a bear himself. Here, in the theatrical version of the film included in this two-disc set, the movie goes through its own transformation; a Wizard of Oz-like demarcation at the 24-minute mark when the aspect ratio widens to reflect Kenai’s new, ursine perspective. En route to a mountaintop where his late brother’s spirit may return him to human form, Kenai is joined by Koda, a frolicsome young bear who shows Kenai the ropes. Though Kenai insists that Koda “keep all the cuddly bear stuff to a minimum,” it is not long before the feisty and adorable cub inspires a change of heart in Kenai. SCTV fans will delight in two tag-along moose characters, Rutt and Tuke, voiced by the McKenzie brothers themselves, Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas. Beauty, eh? The funniest moose since Bullwinkle, they also provide the commentary, which alone is worth the price of purchase. If it is true that Disney has decided to forsake for the foreseeable future traditional cel-animated features, then Brother Bear is a triumphant swan song—or bear song, if you prefer. Donald Liebenson

Related Works

Album:Brother Bear: Original Soundtrack

Brother Bear: Original Soundtrack

Various Artists

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