The Country Bears

Starring:
Haley Joel Osment as Beary Barrington (voice)
Diedrich Bader as Officer Cheets, Ted Bedderhead (voice)
Candy Ford as Trixie St. Claire (voice)
M.C. Gainey as Roadie
James Gammon as Big Al (voice)
Brad Garrett as Fred Bedderhead (voice)
Julianne Buescher as Tennessee (voice)
Stephen Root as Zeb Zoober (voice)
Daryl Mitchell as Officer Hamm
Christopher Walken as Reed Thimple
Stephen Tobolowsky as Mr. Barrington
Meagen Fay as Mrs. Barrington
Eli Marienthal as Dex Barrington
Alex Rocco as Rip Holland
Willie Nelson as Himself
Elton John as Himself
Krystal as Miss Krystal
Don Henley as Himself
Bonnie Raitt as Herself
Brian Setzer as Himself
Queen Latifah as ‘Cha-Cha’ the bartender
Jennifer Paige as Waitress

Special Features:
“The Country Bears: Out of the Woods” Mockumentary
Audio Commentary with Director Peter Hastings and Special Guests Ted and Zeb
Music Video Mix Master Jamboree
“The Country Bears Concert For America” (ABC Special)
Sing With The Movie – Viewing Option
Krystal Music Video

Other Info:
Full Screen (1:33:1)
Running Time: 88 Mins.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified
English and French Audio Tracks

Synopsis:
Beary is the adopted son of the Barrington family. He’s happy and loved by his parents, but he doesn’t quite feel that he fits in. It never occurs to him that he’s different because he’s a bear. After some taunting by his brother, Beary runs away from home. He feels that the only place he can feel like part of a family is at Country Bear Hall with his heroes, a band called the Country Bears. Beary is their biggest fan despite them having broken up 10 years earlier.

When he arrives at Country Bear Hall, he finds it run down and about to be demolished by the banker Reed Thimple. The only way it can be saved is if they raise $20,000 in 4 days. Beary gets the bright idea to host a Country Bear reunion concert. Thus begins a road trip to get the band back together. What Beary doesn’t know is that the Barrington family believes he was kidnapped and a couple of cops by the name of Hamm and Cheets are hot on his trail to take him home.

“The Country Bears” is rated G.

The Movie:
I reviewed this movie upon its theatrical release earlier this year. You can see my original review here.

I took my 3 yr old to this film really expecting to hate it. I was very much turned off by Disney’s idea to turn one of their theme park attractions into a movie. Plus, the trailer looked rather horrific, too. Thirty minutes into the film I thought I was right. However, as the road trip in the movie started up, the movie began to pick up. The movie ended up not only being tolerable, but it generated a few good laughs along the way.

The plot is a total rip off of the Blues Brothers. Both movies have some misfits (being pursued by the cops) trying to get their old popular band back together for a big concert to raise money to save some place. The only difference is that this film doesn’t have Nazis. It’s a rather blatant ripoff, but if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. The road trip concept allows them to feature a ton of cameos in the film. One of the best featured Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt. There’s also a great musical duel between one of the bears and Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats. Also look for cameos by Elton John as a gardner, Wille Nelson, Queen Latifah, and more. Disney must have really called in the favors for this one.

The music in the movie was also surprisingly good. There was a nice mix of country, rock, hip-hop, and more. As previously mentioned, Henley and Raitt provide a memorable duet that is one of the better original songs. They also return for part of the finale that was good. Disney trots out a couple of their teen stars that were also pretty good. Krystal and Jennifer Paige deliver two fun and energetic musical numbers.

In the end, this film is fun for kids and tolerable for adults. I think this one may be more of a renter than anything, but you shouldn’t make a great effort to avoid it.

The Extras:
This DVD has a few extras, but most center around the mockumentary theme of the film. Here are a few highlights:

“The Country Bears: Out of the Woods” Mockumentary – Throughout the movie we were treated to snippets of an “E! True Hollywood Story” type documentary outlining the rise and fall of the Country Bears. This extra is all that footage put together into one short. Featuring music artists from a variety of styles, they recount the early days of the band, how the Bears shaped their careers and musical styles, and how they overcame their problems to get back together. Cameos by Willie Nelson, Queen Latifah, and more are included. While funny, the joke does tend to run out by the end. Fortunately it’s a short video.

Audio Commentary with Director Peter Hastings and Special Guests Ted and Zeb – If you’re looking for legitimate commentary on the making of the movie, then forget it. This is an extended gag of the director and the two bear characters discussing the movie as if everyone in the film was real. Their comments range from being really funny to being repetitive, but if you liked the movie you may want to check it out. However, if you’re interested in details on the music or the bear costumes, there’s nothing here for you.

Music Video Mix Master Jamboree – The idea behind this extra is that you’d select several video clips, piece them together, and make a music video. It’s a nice idea, but it doesn’t work so well. The clips you have to choose from are already a variety of clips from the movie pieced together, so you can’t tell one from another. It’s a bit confusing.

“The Country Bears Concert For America” (ABC Special) – This TV special was designed to promote the film. Half of the program is a shortened version of the mockumentary, but narrated by Julie Brown. The second half of the special is the bears singing three of their songs. It’s nothing more then the puppets lip-syncing to the soundtrack while running around the stage (somewhat like the Disney attraction the movie is based on). The music is good, so that makes it tolerable to watch.

Krystal Music Video – I normally despise teeny-bopper singers, but this song by Krystal isn’t so bad. It’s her song “The Kid In You”, just without the bears from the film. I guess this is the music video we saw her filming in the movie. It sounds pretty good on a home theater, especially with a strong base beat.

Oddly, most of these extras aren’t geared towards kids. And while adults and movie buffs may be more interested in the creation of the puppets or the music, that isn’t featured either.

The Bottom Line:
If you’d like some good music, a few light laughs, and some entertainment for your kids, then “The Country Bears” fits the bill. However, this is more of a renter film than one required for your collection.

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