Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lions and Tigers and....

Oh, my.

When Walt Disney wanted to break away from cartoons and into some life action stuff back in the 40s and 50s, he started this True Life Adventure series.   Short films that focused on nature and won a slew of Academy Awards.  Plus it was probably good practice for him.   Once you can direct a possum or a squirrel, Hayley Mills and Fred MacMurray are a piece of cake.

So, flash forward to modern day and Disney Studios is at it again.  They now have a Disney Nature division and are producing some documentaries on...wait for it...nature.   With today's technology and high-def cameras, these movies are real stunners.   You feel like you're up close and personal with these creatures.

In the case of "Bears," the cameras zoom in so much that you can see all the flies and bugs circling these sloppy animals.  While it's great to look at it, you shouldn't forget for one moment that bears are dangerous wild animals that will literally rip your head right off your neck.   And swallow it whole like a canape at your last New Year's Eve party.  The filmmakers here go out of their way to glorify these bears and that is the big problem with the movie.

"Bears" opens at the end of winter in Alaska.  Mama bear Sky (yes, they have names) wakes up from a long hibernation with her two cubs, Amber and Scout.  They've been living in her fur for months and you know that must smell bad.  There is no mention of Papa, so I am thinking he is one deadbeat bear.  

Sky and her children begin the long trek to water where they will feed off some salmon and store that fat for the next winter.  It's tough to find food as there is apparently no bear edition of Yelp.  And, if the salmon are late coming upstream, the bears have to eat grass.  Or each other.  

The perils for this little family are many.  They run into some male bears named Magnus and Chinook who like to snack on the young.   Oh, and there's a wolf along for the ride and he steals food.  A wolf in wolf's clothing.  You watch it all and it's damn pretty but little else.  

Ultimately, you and the critters get to the salmon smorgasbord and you realize that Disney Nature won't be producing "Salmon" any time soon.  There is countless screen time devoted to the bears tearing apart salmon.  For those parents who think this is a cute little movie to take the youngsters to, forget it.    One of the bear meals is so graphic you expect Freddie Krueger to show up.

"Bears" pushes the adorable envelope constantly and it doesn't work.  The script seems to have been written with a "Leave It to Beaver" cadence.  Gee, what are these little bear cubs going to do next?  Ugh.  Meanwhile, the narration by John C. Reilly is equally cutesy-poo.   He gives the animals some voices and it's like he wants you to hug them.   Yeah, if you do, that'll happen just once.   These are killers and, to pretend otherwise, is a complete disservice to anybody seeing this film.

Frankly, I want nothing more to do with bears unless it's the mail order stuffed variety you get shipped from the state of Vermont.   After seeing this mess, I don't even want to visit Wrigley Field again.   

And, if you're wondering how the hell I wound up seeing "Bears" in the first place, well, the 87 minute running time was ideal for me.   I was waiting for Culver City Toyota next door to finish servicing my car.

LEN'S RATING:  One and a half stars.

Dinner last night:  McDonald's Big Mac.

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