Friday, September 12, 2003


A Film Review of "The Country Bears"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

What is so obviously a publicity stunt to drum up interest in a tired attraction (the Country Bear Jamboree; animatronics of hillbilly bears doing a mini Grand Ole Opry bit) at the various Disney parks is a pleasant surprise. I never would have guessed it but this is great stuff.

Imagine a world where bears co-exist with mankind. Literally. They wear pants, they pump gas, they wait tables and they form has-been 1970s rock bands. The story involves Beary (voiced by Haley Joel Osment), a young bear adopted by a human family, who sets out to reunite his favorite band and save their original venue with a reunion concert. The Country Bears are a grizzly equivalent of the Allman Brothers in sound and lead-sung with the voice of John Hiatt.

As the little bear goes about 'getting the band back together,' there is a deliberate parallel to The Blues Brothers. In a diner scene one almost expects a bear to start asking patrons, "How much for the little girl? Your women, we want to buy your women." As with The Blues Brothers, with each stop along the journey a musical number with special guest stars ensues.

The guest stars are the highlight of the film whether it's as a performer or as an interviewee. The best among them are Disney creation Krystal, Brian Setzer, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Paige, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt (who also lends her singing voice to a bear), Wyclef Jean and Xzibit.

This is a delight, don't miss.

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