animated movie Brother Bear © Disney

Reviews for Brother Bear

3.2 stars / 10 ratings
Toonboy's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 319

Toonboy's Review

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posted: Jan 17, 2010
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Now I realize why I wanted to watch Home on the Range over Brother Bear way back during the twilight of Disney's hand drawn animation legacy. And I do believe Dinosaur now has a rival for the worst Disney movie of all time. While Dinosaur's status as better entertainment is debatable, I only gave Brother Bear a half star dock in comparison out of principle. Namely that I'm in the process of winding down a Disney marathon that started before Christmas, and going in (relatively) chronological order from the masterful classics of the 40s and 50s through to the post-modern formula of the mid 90s only made the bitter pill of the regime change in Disney increasingly more difficult to swallow with each passing movie.

There are notable bright spots of exceptions to the rule. Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Atlantis, to name a few. Brother Bear is not one of them. I thought it was going to be like a "People of the Earth" type of movie like Pocahontas, except taking place during the Ice Age. Alas, it was worse than that. Brother Bear was Tarzan with bears instead of gorillas.

While I was watching Brother Bear, a lot of thoughts ran through my head, none of them particularly pleasant. "More Phil Collins songs?" "Where are the instantly lovable classic songs?" "Or the instantly lovable classic characters for that matter?" "Are those fish computer generated? Have Disney forgotten how to draw?"

Making a generic movie about brotherhood and love is all well and good. Okay, fine. Disney does these types of movies all the time. However the songcraft and attempts at humor only dragged this movie down farther than was even necessary. Truth is there ARE no instantly memorable songs. Just some lazy pop songs. The whole movie has a feeling of being over-processed. I don't go to a Disney movie to hear an out-of-date Tina Tuner. The worst offender, however, is Welcome(or is it Family Time?), the obligatory feel good song.

The best example of humor in this movie is the elderly (jewish?) female bear, who keeps insisting her husband(bears have husbands?) is dead when he really isn't. Beyond that, this movie suffers from overkill. Most Disney movies have two or three sidekicks. Brother Bear has two washed up moose, two washed big horn ram, and a Scrappy in the form of Koda, who is probably now the single most annoying Disney character who is not found in a DTV.

Tarzan theme of not separating animal language away from the human world came back with a vengeance, but it wasn't what aggravated me the most. Just when I thought that the movie was finally going to give me a nugget of real gold in the form of Kenai telling Koda the real story about his mother, it pushes the dialogue into the background and supplants it when yet another tired song. Oh yeah. And the revelation? You can see that coming a mile away. You can do better than this, Disney.

The movie seems to be a lot of filler. Case in point is the travel montage, which probably couldn't be all that much longer than ten minutes but seems to be covering up for a lack of any real substance. Disney also can't decide whether to portray bears realistically and menacing or fully anthro with cute and cuddly features, human eyes, and basically human acting. Actually, I'd rather Disney NOT portray bears as being all lovable. I'm a big fan of the bear attack sequence of The Fox and the Hound, and it's not just because the bear is portrayed realistically in that movie, it's because the animation grooved with a spark of fire, grit and electricity. I got none of that sense watching Brother Bear, even during the sequence where the bear is drawn realistically and presumably attacking ferociously.

Brother Bear is Disney banality at its worst. I can forgive them for hamfisting bits of humor into moments that should be serious. I can forgive them for stupid sidekicks. I can forgive them for derivative story plotting. I can even forgive them for overblown songs. However, there's a line to be drawn where Disney forgets the intelligence of their viewer. Brother Bear crosses that line into the next hillside. The best of Disney and Pixar remember to have universal appeal so that both adults and children can enjoy the movie. Brother Bear doesn't have even one shred of this.

ZTC's avatar
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Reviews: 5

ZTC's Review

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posted: Mar 06, 2009
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I decided to get this on DVD. I'd read some pretty detailed info on it, seen a couple of images and decided to see it for myself. What can I say? It is everything a modern Disney film should be: good use of paint, digital art and CGI. The songs are upbeat and well-written (after all, they are all written by the guru of songwritiers, Phil Collins). I just thanked God - with the exception of a few lines from Koda - that none of the characters went and bursted into song.

The scenery and backgrounds are beautiful and realistic. The scene where "On My Way" started was drawn to the point of breathtaking beauty. The animation was fluent and the bears actully moved like real bears. Although I didn't find most of the lines comical, I found the DVD commentuary by the moose hysterical. And I quote:

(Tanana draws sketch on the ground, telling Kenai about the mountain)
TUKE: Hey, did she say that was where the lights touch the Earth?
RUTT: Yeah.
TUKE: Well, from my point of view, it looks like the lights touching McDonalds!


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Reviews: 1

Animation98's Review

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posted: Aug 09, 2008
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WARNING: This review may contain spoilers

Brother Bear is one of the most underrated Disney films I have ever seen (not on this site but regarding the public).

There are a few mature themes in this film, such as vengeance, and it’s rare to see a Disney film where the main protagonist has the blood of an innocent on his hands (I know it becomes “paws” later on but don’t send any e-mails correcting me, please) but like many of the more darker Disney films, it is balanced out with the Disney-ish charm that we remember from films like The Lion King. When I first heard that the plot was about a hunter called Kenai who wanted vengeance against the bear who killed his brother, I expected the bear to be your typical Disney villain, whom Kenai would meet later on, but when given the chance to have his vengeance, he remembers everything that he’s learnt from Koda and the other bears and shows mercy (but in typical Disney fashion, the bear gets himself killed anyway. Deep, dark precipice anybody?) And everyone lives happily ever after. End of story, credits roll, curtains close, don’t forget to put your rubbish in the bin on the way out. But, surprisingly, the story was not like that.

The story was more complex than normal Disney films. I was pleasantly surprised that the villain was not a homicidal bear, a Clayton-esque hunter or a sabre-tooth tiger (Need I go on?) It really depends on what you view as a villain. This isn’t your typical “nature is good, man is bad” story. Kenai and Denahi are shown to be mixtures of good and bad. Kenai is shown to be just as much a loving brother as Denahi and Sitka, but he is an arrogant “fat-head” and it’s his arrogance that leads to Sitka’s death. Then Denahi says “I don’t blame the bear,” but Kenai is just too full of himself to realise that. Denahi’s hunt for the bear he believes to have killed both his brothers is motivated not by arrogance but by his grief alone, which makes his descent into hell all the more tragic. So we are given the two ways in which a person can become the villain, it can be as a result of sin (in this case pride and wrath) or that we let our emotions blind us to reason.

This does not however make Kenai a completely negative character. When he becomes a bear, it’s his naivety to the animal kingdom, his cockiness ending him up in trouble and his relationship with Koda adds humour to the story and even after all he’s done, it makes us feel a certain amount of sympathy for him.

Koda was just a joy to watch and just as brilliantly acted. We all know a Koda, someone who can be annoying to the point where if he carried on any longer you may just do something regrettable with a spear, but deep down we can’t help but love him. His constant chattering never made me hate him and during Kenai’s confession, his reaction, no matter how predictable, got me right there.

Rutt and Tuke were actually more funny than I expected. They are not sidekicks in the popular sense of the word, they just pop in and out of the story. The moments when they do appear are timed just right as they always seem to appear when the story gets too serious. Another positive factor is that they play an important part in helping Kenai and Koda (even if is unintentional). I believe Rutt and Tuke to be the best comic relief characters in a Disney film since Timon and Pumbaa. (I highly recommend the Moose Commentary on the DVD.)

If there is one bad thing I have to say about the film, it’s the song “On My Way.” “Great Spirits” and “Welcome” were songs I could listen to all day, the “Transformation” song was spectacular and “No Way Out” was emotionally gripping. Whereas, it’s debatable as to whether these songs were put in their just for the sake of a song, “On My Way” certainly was. It helped lifted the mood certainly, but it still felt like the story could have gone perfectly well without it.

All in all, Brother Bear is a film that I recommend to kids and to animation enthusiasts such as myself. It’s not The Lion King, but it has that story’s gift to make you laugh and/or cry.

servewithchips's avatar
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Reviews: 93

servewithchips' Review

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posted: Jun 13, 2007
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Some people have a knee jerk reaction to any film (especially animated ones) with any sort of environmental or nature friendly message. Well, Bambi has a pretty liberal spin, and its almost universally hailed as a classic... so it is possible to be a good movie and be anti-animal killing. Now that I have established that point, on with the review.

Had Brother Bear come out ten years sooner than its 2003 release, it would have fit in perfectly well with the batch of Disney's 90's new classics. Sure, its not quite a Lion King, but its no Home on the Range or Chicken Little neither. As it was, Brother Bear came out at the tail end on the traditional animation decline. Bear mustered $85 million in the US, and a total of $250 million worldwide, so it really wasn't a bust, but not a blockbuster either.

The story centers around Kenai, an Inuit boy who loves to antagonize bears. His antics get his brother killed, and so Kenai seeks revenge eventually killing the bear who caused him trouble. As a kharmatic result, the spirits turned Kenai into a bear so he could gain a new perspective. A third brother, think the bear had offed two of his brothers vows to kill the bear formed Kenai. In the meantime, Kenai meets up with a hyperactive cub who wants to go to the salmon run which is conveniently near the Aurora Borealis (home of the spirits). I wont spoil the end, but there a couple of profound and interesting developments.

The animation is quite nice here, and a nice touch is the change in aspect ratio corresponding to Kenai's transformation. Also, upon becoming a bear, the animation becomes more vibrant and slightly more "toony." One of the down sides of the film is that it went the Tarzan route of Phil Colinsifying the film rather than just having the characters sing. Phil is ok, but supercharging the film with too much of a "good" thing hurts it a tad. Still, On My Way, Welcome, and Through My Eyes are all pretty good. Unfortunately with so much Phil, the songs tend to blend.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked this one. Its got a classic feel to it, and is a bit touching even though it teaches us to be nicer to bears. The "funny moose" are slightly funny, and the animation stands up with Disney's top tier. Even though the music isn't terrible, I would have preferred a different style for the movie, and for that reason, Bear doesn't quite stand up against The Little Mermaid, or other Disney A list animated films. Brother Bear still manges a B+ and is worthy of a better rep than it has.

Juuchan17's avatar
World Class Animation Critic
Reviews: 157

Juuchan17's Review

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posted: Feb 17, 2006
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I really don't see what people don't like about this film. To me, Brother Bear is a wonderful story of self-change (both inside and out, since Kenai gets turned into a bear), with a little scoop of Disney magic mixed in.

I thought the story was well-told, in both animation and voice. The instrumental music worked in all of the scenes, but the vocal music didn't seem to work in all of the scenes (like Koda's song, "On My Way") IMO. I think the best songs were the ones near the end of the film (*spoiler free*), both by Phil Collins. And the transformation music . . . . hauntingly beautiful. The others were okay, but not as good as earlier Disney films.

The backgrounds were beautiful at setting the story in such an interesting place that looked like a melting period during the ice age. The characters were okay: the young Kenai and his two older brothers, Sitka and Denahi, the talkative bear cub Koda, and the two comical-relief moose, Rutt and Tuke were clearly the characters that stood out (*spoiler* Although Sitka was dead at less than a few minutes into the film, he still played a cruical role in the film . . . . which I liked. *end spoiler*).

But anyway, this was a beautifully made film that is at least worth a watch for anyone that likes animal films, Disney movie magic, and a mythical tale about a boy who became a man, by becoming a bear.

3.5 stars.

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Reviews: 1

RandomJackass' Review

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posted: Jul 10, 2005
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Ah, Disney Magic at its best! All throughout the Nineties, Disney managed to produce its best films: Lion King, Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, Mulan, and Tarzan. All these films were gorgeously animated and had beautiful scores, and had the ability to move people emotionally--make them cry, laugh, sympathize with the characters, and come out of the movie theaters humming the tunes. Then, we started getting cutesy films like Monsters Inc and Lilo and Stitch. While they are OK in their own right, they didn't have the same sort of granduer and magnificence like the productions of the Nineties. THere was a time where it just hit me: Face it, it's over. Disney films are no longer going to be all about beautiful animation and lovely music. People don't want that anymore. THey just want to see computer animation and silly comedies. Then I went to see this movie with my dad and my two little brothers, thinking it would just be another boring film that would remind me of the end of the golden age of Disney. However, I was drawn in from the very beginning, and although I really had to pee, I sat there until the end of the movie. I did not want to miss a second of it. It gave me hope for Disney's future.

EbonyPatriot's avatar
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Reviews: 8

EbonyPatriot's Review

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posted: Dec 28, 2004
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Let me start of by saying that this ties with Lion King and Balto and Bambi as my favorite movie. (Can't just one?)

What do I love about? Well first of the story's great- for me it was compelling and entertaining from beginning to end and the theme of foregiveness and brotherhood is great as well.

Seocnd it has wonderful songs- only Lion King beats it.

Third I the characters and their potrayels are excellent. Kenai and Denahi are sympathic despite the facts that they could both be considered villains Rutt and Tuke are funny and yet not too annoying, Koda is hyperactive and annoying and yet appealing, etc.

Finally the animation: simply breath-taking. I didn't know bears could be animated so well, the bald eagle Sitka makes my jaw drop and the Transformation scene... wow.

In conclusion an excellent film, definetly worth the cost at least renting it.

greykitty's avatar
World Class Animation Critic
Reviews: 193

greykitty's Review

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posted: Nov 02, 2004
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The only reason I watched this movie was for the animation and the two moose, Rut and Tuke. They actually were quite funny. The animation was spectacular in this movie, but the story was weak. I found myself getting quite bored during a lot of the scenes.

The soundtrack didn't really impress me. The soft rock songs, I guess that's what you call them, that they had in it, don't really seam to fit. Most of the songs felt out of place, even though there weren't really any characters that broke out into song that I can remember.

The animation, as I said early, was really great. It had a "Lion King" type feel to it at times. I really think that Disney was trying to make this somewhat of a LK clone in that aspect and the same for the feel, but it fell short by quite a bit.

The story, although it had a somewhat good moral, was rather bland. I really didn't care for the whole spirit side of the movie. I think they pushed the limits with it in this film. I can choke down the small amounts they throw into some of their newer films, but there was way too much in this film. Now that I think of it, it kind of reminds me of Pocahontas in that aspect.

Brother Bear had a few good points, but the bad points outwiegh the good. It would be worth seeing once, but I wouldn't buy it.

lupercal's avatar
KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 517

lupercal's Review

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posted: Jul 30, 2004
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I admit I may not even have watched this movie except that a friend in the US was so smitten by it that he insisted on buying me a copy.

I'm glad he did. I enjoyed 'Brother Bear' more than any Disney movie since... errr... oh, I lose count of Disney movies to be honest. Let's just say I enjoyed it more than the last half dozen that I can remember.

It gets off to a bit of a shaky start: the contemporary jargon in the mouths of Inuit just seemed a bit too much. A second blow was the arrival of the cub. I thought "this guy is really going to irritate me, isn't he?"

Well, he did... for a while. But like the central character, I couldn't help but warm to him eventually.


In lots of ways there is nothing about 'Brother Bear' to set it apart from lots of other Disney films, in terms of animation or characterisation, but somehow in the last half hour it just starts gathering emotional momentum. The 'revelation' scene, no matter that I could see it coming, had real emotional clout, and best of all the ending, which took me entirely by surprise. Dating back to the Roman Saturnalia, it is traditional for a work of art which upends normality (in this case a human becoming a bear) to restore that normality at the end. Brother Bear looks like it's shaping up to do this, and then does the opposite. To me it was an indication of changing human attitudes toward animals, and I found it genuinely uplifting, whereas I suppose it would have been inconcievable a few decades ago.

Have I given away too much, or not enough?


As for the incidental cast, I didn't care that much for the moose(s?) and the Ram, but I accepted them as inevitable.

I don't know how 'Brother Bear' will stand up to repeated viewing, but first time around it really grabbed my heartstrings. As a result it cops three and half.

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KF Animation Editor
Reviews: 218

athena's Review

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posted: Apr 01, 2004
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I found this movie very unbalanced. Some parts of it were genuinely moving and sincere, while others left me vaguely irritated and bored. Brother Bear has this annoying sense of a movie that might have been quite good if it weren't so heavy handly morale. Not that the message isn't good--every conflict has two sides, all equal in brotherhood, that sort of thing... it's just at times the message has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

On the up-side... the moose, Rutt and Tuke, are genuinely funny. Given how many Disney 'sidekick' characters are just plain annoying, this was probably one of the most pleasant surprises of the film.

The general plot of the story is also quite moving. Kenai is turned into a bear to atone for a mistake--a mistake he didn't even know he made until he can see the world from a bear's perspective. The ending also surprised me at how much it pulled at the heartstrings.

Still, getting to the end, was much less enthralling. The moose were much more loveable characters than either Kenai or Koda--which is fair. Kenai was on a journey to become a better man... but what this means in terms of a movie is that you're being dragged through a story by a character that I found I didn't really like all that much. The brotherly relationship between Kenai and Koda also felt quite forced.

Lastly the music... where in Tarzan I thought Phil Collins work blended quite well, here it was quite jarring--particularly the opening song with Tina Turner. When I think great majestic forests of the Pacific Northwest, she's really not the first person that comes to mind.

Might be worth renting, but I could probably recommend better.