Anthony's Film Review
Brother Bear (2003)
An easily overlooked Disney animated film, but it still has enough heart...
Brother Bear is one of those movies that would not make any difference for the line of Disney animated films if it were made by another studio or not made at all. I myself cannot remember the characters too well long after seeing it. It doesn't really have songs I can remember long after the film. There is a plot, but it's nothing spectacular. But is it a movie to skip? Sure, if you only want to watch the best movies.
But if you're left with average or below average movies to pick from, you still want something decent and entertaining enough. That is what Brother Bear is. A movie that is just good enough to enjoy if there's nothing else. It's not a high-ranking Disney animated film overall. It is, however, a high-ranking Disney animated film if you take out Snow White and every other beloved Disney animated classic.
Like most Disney animated films, Brother Bear focuses on a particular group of people and setting. Here, it centers on a Native American tribe. The time period may not be clear, but there are nevertheless no signs of modern civilization anywhere. One day, a tribesman named Kenai (Joaquin Phoenix) slays a bear, but he is later magically transformed into a bear himself. It's a punishment for doing harm to other life.
Now it becomes a journey across the landscape. He must reach the one magical place where he can return to his true form. He does have Koda, a little cub, as an ally. On the way, Kenai and Koda learn to be friends, and at one point, they join another group of bears, including one voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan, who spend their days eating fish and living freely. Living in the wilderness doesn't seem too bad.
So the movie still features likable human and animal characters, just like most other Disney movies. It also has a nice touching message underneath, one about respecting nature and all other life. That itself is just good enough to make Brother Bear something to watch, proving that the most important element of a Disney movie is emotion. Without it, the film is meaningless.
For more information about Brother Bear, visit the Internet Movie Database.