The Country Bears - G
Best for: Little kids and preteens will especially enjoy this family friendly movie.
The plot: The Country Bears, Disney's latest summer family flick, tells the story of Beary Barrington (voiced by Haley Joel Osment), a 10-year-old bear who feels like he doesn't fit in with his adopted human family. He knows he's loved by his parents, but when he realizes he doesn't look the same and was adopted, Beary runs away from home, heading for a place where he'll "fit in": The Country Bear Hall, home to the great rock band, the Country Bears, until they split in 1991.
Beary finds the run-down place about to be demolished by a mean banker, Reed Thimple (Christopher Walken). The only way to save the hall is to raise $20,000 in 4 days, so Beary gets the bright idea to find the Country Bears and reunite them for a benefit concert. Meanwhile, the Barrington family, believing Beary has been kidnapped, sends policemen Daryl Mitchell and Diedrich Bader on a quest to find him and bring him home.
The good: I was a fan of the Country Bears attraction at Disneyland, but wondered whether Disney could pull off a Country Bears movie. They did. All of the kids in the audience I saw the movie with seemed to enjoy themselves, while the movie reminded me of a 2001 family-style Blues Brothers. All of the bear characters are entertaining, and the cameo singing voices of several famous folk fit well into the story. One of the songs I enjoyed the most featured the voices of Don Henley and Bonnie Raitt, who sing a duet in a bar. As the bears sing, the two human singers, sitting in the bar, comment on how great the bears' voices are. It's a cute scene that will go over most kids' heads, but adults will get a kick out of it. Look for cameos and musical numbers by Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats, Elton John, Willie Nelson, Queen Latifah, Krystal, Jennifer Paige and more. If you were ever a fan of the old Disneyland Country Bears show, this is the perfect movie for you. And even if you've never seen the show, you'll enjoy watching giant teddy bears warm your heart with some great musical numbers.
The movie has a slow start but gets interesting by the time Beary sets out on his road trip to reunite the band. Jim Henson's' creature shop created all of the lifelike bears.
The bad: Ironically, the Bears show at Disneyland recently closed its doors, but the movie is all about keeping the Country Bear Hall open. Go figure. Walken can play weird characters and strange roles like no other actor in Hollywood, but he seemed out of place playing a mean character in a children's movie.
Parental guidance: This family-friendly flick will provide parents with a welcome substitute for kids wanting to see the Austin Powers movie and a nice way to spend some family time, with lots of laughter and good music.
The Country Bears - G