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Brother Bear (2003)

The Moose Are Loose!

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 85 minutes

UK Certificate: U

‘Brother Bear’ is about brothers. And bears, for that matter. So no probs with the title, then. And I for one am glad that Disney continue to set aside some of their budget for continuing the tradition of hand-drawn animation – when done properly, it can be every bit as good as the CG stuff (just look at Who Framed Roger Rabbit).

Unfortunately, what makes the Pixar outings so much better than stuff like this isn’t necessarily the quality of the animation – it’s the sharper humour, the far better storylines, and a willingness to bend the rules every now and then. ‘Brother Bear’ fails in each of those departments, and as a result plays like a nice, pleasant snoozefest. Been there, done that, bought the over-priced video game.

Joaquin Phoenix is the voice of Kenai, an impulsive young Native American huntsman who takes it upon himself to slay the bear responsible for killing his big brother Sitka (D.B. Sweeney). But when Kenai is magically transformed into a bear himself, he finds the shoe to be on the other paw as he becomes the target of his other brother Denahi (Jason Raize).

So Kenai finds himself joined by a cutesy bear cub (Jeremy Suarez), a couple of dippy mooses (Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas) and an absolutely appalling Phil Collins soundtrack as he sets about changing his ways and discovering the inner-workings of the circle of life. If any of this sounds like it was better dealt with in The Lion King, it’s probably because it was. MUCH better.

The film-makers don’t seem particularly enthusiastic about the conservationism-by-numbers morals they’re peddling, and the whole thing comes across as more than a little half-hearted. It’s just totally and utterly mediocre – so formulaic you’ll have seen each and every element a hundred times before.

But it’s upbeat, it’s sweet, and the younger kids at this screening seemed to be having a decent enough time. In saying that, what I really mean is that I couldn’t hear any of them snoring – which, given the subject matter, is probably about the best you could go into this film hoping for. The only advice I can give to any adults who end up getting dragged along to see it is simply to grin and bear it (see what I did there with the word “bear”?).

It's Got: Everything you’d expect.

It Needs: Anything you wouldn’t.


The best thing about it is probably that it’s instantly forgettable. This is probably the most completely average film of the year.