Disneynature’s BEARS movie: My “official” review

Good Monday morning, AKontheGO’ers! I’ve returned from a busy weekend in Homer, Alaska, where Disneynature’s BEARS movie took a Hollywood-style center stage.

After a select few hundred Homerites and guests were among the privileged to view a special screening of BEARS  on Thursday night, many parents have asked for a review of the film’s appropriateness for children. In fact, telephones have been ringing off the hook at the office of Hallo Bay Bear Camp, where much of the movie was shot.

So, in the interest of kids and parents and teachers who would like me to follow up on Disneynature’s BEARS, here are the facts about this amazing film, and its stars.

How long is the film? Just over an hour in length (77 minutes or so), Disneynature’s BEARS is an excellent “first movie” experience for younger kids, and long enough to keep older kids engaged as well. Hint: Stick around for the credits, where behind-the-scenes footage is shown.

Is there any gore, sex, or bear-violence? Certainly, nature is not as careful about shielding human children from the not-so-great stuff, but Disneynature’s sensitivity to the concept of “survival of the fittest” is evident throughout the film, especially during moments of tension between male bears and Sky, the mother bear. There are scenes of bears fighting, but there is no blood and no deaths, which makes the movie appropriate for most age groups. And no, there are no mating scenes. This is a story, not a documentary shot in “Wild Kingdom” format.

Why did Disney name the bears? To reiterate, the film’s writers and production team aimed for a story about Alaska bears rather than a documentary-style format, and thus, character development was key. Sky and her cubs Scout and Amber are portrayed as a family just trying to survive a spring and summer in the harsh, beautiful Alaska wilderness. To engage kids, narration and personalities were considered important to the overall desire to pull families toward the movie, and I think it works.

Is it all scenery and music? No, no. The narration by John C. Reilly, voice of “Wreck it Ralph” is on  point. Reilly adds humor, drama, and poignancy to the script, and helps guide children through the drama-filled moments with grace. Especially adorable is his narration of Scout, who always seems to be in trouble of one sort or another.

Why should you take kids? Bears deserve our respect, and in my post last week where I described an interview with director/producer Keith Scholey, the opportunity for children to become stewards of the planet is everywhere. Between the Educators’ Curriculum and support from local land management agencies, Disneynature’s BEARS is a golden hour of learning habits that could indeed last a lifetime. Watch it with your kids, as a parent, and see how many parallels you discover about your own life.

image courtesy Disneynature

Moms, no matter the species, are pretty awesome.

Check out this great review by James Gaddis, co-host of KTVA’s Daybreak, too. He got it right on the nose.


Posted in Alaska Wildlife Experiences and tagged , , , .

One Comment

  1. My girlfriend and I saw Disneynature’s BEARS movie a couple of days ago. Although I’m fond of classic narration, especially if the narrator turn out to be Morgan Freeman, I think this film’s use of character names, humor and an overall storyline to follow does help engage and educate viewers. John C. Reilly did a good job, whether you care for his voice or not. His storytelling will help kids bond with the cubs, Scout and Amber, pretty quickly. He might have been pronouncing Chinook wrong, the name of a dangerous bruin with an eye for little cubs, but I’m no expert. I found it easy to overlook this, while my girlfriend had a hard time not noticing.

    The film was different from what we expected based on the previews, a little less intense and scientific, but impressive nonetheless. The film crew did some amazing work to capture spectacular footage. Throughout the film I kept wondering, “How did they get that shot?” The credits later on helped clear some of that up. Incredible!

    The scenery deserves viewing on a the big screen, but I think a lot of people would be content to see this film in the comfort of their home and glad they saved a few bucks not going to the theater. If you have a large screen at home, you’ve got it made! Wait for the DVD rental. If you want to get the “big picture” and support more films like this, open up that wallet for a theater visit.

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