The Country Bears
- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2002 1 Jan
Jim Henson's Creature Shop provides the expressive animatronic bears. A remarkable number of musical celebrities signed on for cameo appearances and vocals, including Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley, Bryan Setzer, and Willie Nelson. But their help is not saving the movie from being ridiculed by mainstream critics. Many call this crass commercialism and blatant Disney propaganda. Most call its plot thin, its humor lacking, and what does work is stolen from other films.
Traci Pedone (Focus on the Family) pinpoints the movie from which
Phil Boatwright says it has a "pint-sized plot" and it "lacks smart writing." He argues that he would rather see a film for youngsters "that contains clever dialogue, an involving storyline, or interesting characters. Everything in this film has an animatronic feel to it. While that may work in an amusement park, it disappoints in the movie theater."
For some, the music provides temporary relief from the tedium. The USCCB's critic calls it merely "passable entertainment … derivative of
Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) says, "The story which serves as the framework for the film is instantly forgettable. This entire experience might have been described in much the same way if it were not for the music of John Hiatt."
Some Christian critics were so happy to see a family movie that avoids foul language and bawdy humor, they receive it as a classic. Tom Snyder and Ted Baehr (Movieguide) goes so far as to give the film a higher rating than any other film in the Box Office Top Ten. Reviewers Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder call it "an entertaining concoction that will delight children of all ages, even perhaps some jaded teenagers." Mary Draughon (Preview) also calls it "fun for the whole family."
Holly McClure (Crosswalk) compliments it as "a welcome substitute for kids wanting to see the