Movie 44: Brother Bear


I’ll just give a warning before reading this review.  If you like Brother Bear you probably don’t want to read further because I did not.  It had such potential but everything about it was a failure.  So, if reading a review of someone who dislikes something you like is an unpleasant experience for you than STOP READING NOW!

In 2003 I went on a mission for my church so for 2 years I didn’t see any movies and with new movies coming out when I came home I never really got to play catch up.  Sure I watched the 3rd Harry Potter movie, The Incredibles and Return of the King but that was about it in the 2003-2005 era.  If one had a bad reputation I skipped it and moved on.  Brother Bear was one of those films and I hate to say it but I’m glad I did.

I’m sorry guys but this movie stinks.

Literally every choice I would have advised them to reconsider.  Everything from the yogi bearish 2D characters on top of the deep canvas which looked strange, the odd voice cast, the underwhelming songs, the uber-predictable story,  the painful attempts at humor and the incredibly unlikable lead character made it a very unpleasant experience. Honestly I’m struggling to find anything I like about this one.

Just look at the way these characters look? It’s enough for me to know the movie is not for me. I would rather watch episodes of the Gummy Bears and notice our lead character scowling as he does the whole movie...

Unfortunately I’m not the most witty writer in the world (at least I can admit it unlike the writers of this movie…) but my friend over at Disney Movie Year wrote a very funny review of Brother Bear.  He liked it about as much I did…

The Production-

It is obvious from the start of the movie Brother Bear tries to recycle themes, characters even whole scenes from Lion King, Pocahontas, Tarzan, Treasure Planet, and more.  One article I read (information was fairly sparse on this one) said

“Michael Eisner informed the animation department that he wanted a movie about bears. What about bears? The fact that they are readily marketable, in Stepakoff’s estimation. Various ideas were kicked around – “bear King Lear”, “bear Antigone”, none of which came to fruition, surprisingly.

I mean, by God, if “the CEO wants to sell teddy bears” isn’t going to inspire writers to do their best work, what on Earth possibly could? (

Well said but even a commercial cash grab can turn out interesting as Disney has proven many times (think Robin Hood) but the choices they made are so strange.

Movie Review/Conclusion

I wish I could get rid of the cartoonish bears and just look at pretty Alaska… I mean look at the bear with the bangs? It looks so strange

Everything in the movie looked odd to me.  The way the characters are designed on top of the Deep Canvas background always felt off.  Also the voice casting never seemed to fit.

The songs are super lame and who thinks ‘Intuit bear story’ and then ‘I’ll hire Tina Turner’?  I don’t get it?   That makes no sense?  There were so many strange choices like that.

The story is so predictable. Every time it took the obvious turn I groaned at the screen. And the sentimental moments are not earned by the characters.  I don’t believe the journey they are on or even understand why it is completely necessary.  I mean does every teenager who mouths off and acts in anger get turned into a bear in the world of this story?  Even if you accept his punishment, I saw no change or growth and the events on their road trip are so obvious and so predictable they bored me to the point I kept checking the time left on the netflix stream….It wouldn’t speed up but seemed to have a half an hour left for 3 hours….

Just bad choices all around.  The dialogue is awful.  The script feels childish and a lot of times we are introduced to characters and then we never hear form them again.  Something usually isn’t  funny if we have just met a character.  Honestly the script left me aghast at it’s stupidity.  I expect better from Disney! (No wonder this only has 32% on Rotten tomatoes…)

For example, there is a line in the movie where the two moose are playing ‘I spy’ and they go back and forth spying things and I kept waiting for the joke.  There was no joke!!  It was just a 2 minute bit of dialogue playing I spy and I guess that’s supposed to be funny?   And I guess talking ‘Canadian’ and saying hosier a lot is also supposed to be funny?  It certainly didn’t make me laugh.


There were so many befuddling moments like that?  Why attempt to treat the Intuit culture so carefully at the beginning and then have modern voices speaking the way modern teens would speak?  That was so distracting.  There’s one scene where some billygoats who are introduced and forgotten about in like 2 minutes, say shut up 7 times.  Is that supposed to be funny characters saying shut up a lot?

Again look at the banged bear. Doesn’t that just look so badly designed?

Aladdin could get away with modern voiced characters because there was no attempt to be authentic to Arabic culture.  Same with Hercules.

The other huge problem is the lead character is so unlikable.  I started to watch after a while (I was so bored) to see when we finally get a smile from Kenai.  Literally 1 hr 2 minutes before a smile.  He is so winy and for things that don’t seem so bad.  It’s not like they are stuck in terrible weather or life is miserable?  And at the beginning, so he got a love totem?  Is that really such a shameful thing?  What a cliche for the male character to hate love and kindness.  Groan…It seemed so immature for someone having been officially made a man to be continually harping on it.

Kenai the most unlikable Disney hero I’ve seen so far that’s for sure. Get used to this facial expression you are going to see a lot of it.

He is either angry, bitter, or complaining the whole movie.  This made his transformation at the end completely unbelievable.  The relationship between Koda and Kenai doesn’t feel earned as he goes from hating him to loving him in literally one conversation and musical montage.   I realize Tarzan kind of does this but the montage shows weeks of interaction and sharing.  This is literally a song and them frolicking in the woods.  There’s no sense of time elapsing or growth of characters.  And even when he finally smiles he is still kind of a grump.  I don’t know when I’ve disliked a lead character more in any movie, Disney or not ..

look how weird these bears look especially the one on the left.  They all look very out of place and off putting

I could keep going but really this movie sucks. I think Bongo is a better bear movie…

I’m sorry if I offend people who like it but I thought every choice they made was wrong.  Even the pretty scenery was ruined by the Saturday morning cartoons they placed on top of it. And that’s an insult to Saturday morning cartoons…

I’ll say it again but I really thought this movie sucked and it had such potential, so I’m not inclined to be easy on it.  Badly done!

Overall Grade- F

Just to show I’m not alone on this one Rotten tomatoes bottom 2 is Brother Bear and Chicken Little of the Disney Canon.  They are the only 2 movies in the 30 percentages (which is pretty amazing when you think about it).  Nearly every other Disney movie is pretty close to being fresh.  I don’t think any other studio could say that.

48 thoughts on “Movie 44: Brother Bear

  1. I like it artistically, especially how it switches from “realistic” to “colourful animal world” with the transformation (which looks really stunning). I like how the antagonist is not really a bad guy (in fact the final chase is easily the best part of the movie).

    Which is sadly utterly predictable, Koda is annoying and too much in it just feels like filler, which I do not excuse in a modern movie.
    Still, F is a little bit harsh…it is as good as the black cauldron, which is not a compliments, but I nevertheless can’t see it as utter failure because it is at the very least an ambitious failure.

    1. I would way rather watch Black Cauldron than this. I thought the animation looked awful on top of the backgrounds. Where other deep canvas movies the characters kind of fit the 3D background, this felt so off to me.

      The writing I thought was awful. The voice work was off putting. I didn’t like the songs. Black Cauldron had an interesting villain with a cool design. It was visually way more unique and interesting. It had a terrific score. And the writing was certainly better than this IMO. (It has huge problems for sure but I still think it was better and more interesting than this. I wanted to turn it off so badly).

      You have to make your lead character a little bit likable. He doesn’t even smile for over an hour! The humor was groan inducing and sometimes didn’t even make sense. Characters were introduced and then dropped.

      I don’t even remember the final chase scene so it didn’t have much impact on me. Just the brothers fighting? Seen it before…

      It had potential to be so much better and I found myself disliking everything in it. I didn’t even see it as ambitious because it lazily copied what they had done in better films.

      I’m actually quite confident in this F. I really thought it stunk.

      1. I just wonder because you were so much nicer to other movies which had less going for them. Don’t get me wrong, Brother Bear is certainly what I call a “bottom tier” movie.

      2. I do feel like I’ve tried to be nice (only given 7 out of 44 movies D’s or Fs) and I kept looking for something to like but not finding it and getting increasingly annoyed the longer I watched.

        That’s why I put the disclaimer at the front. I knew I was going to have a different tone on this review because it honestly irritated me.

        I guess just certain things aren’t for me. That’s Ok. As much as I personally disliked a movie like The Rescuers or Hunchback I know it is more me and my tastes than the movie itself.

        This and the Dinosaur I couldn’t find anything I liked. Anyway, I think anyone who reviews movies is going to have a few they really hate. Kind of goes with the territory. I tried to explain as best I could why it irked me.

      3. To me even movies who had less going for them still did enough creatively or in one area to deserve a C- or D rating. (like Oliver and Company is a mess but I liked the subway scene and the 2 musical numbers or Fun and Fancy Free had the crazy Donald sequence which was fun so it got a D- ).

        I didn’t have anything I liked in Brother Bear or Dinosaur. Nothing was executed the way I wanted it to be so it was very frustrating.

        Oh well. Thank you for reading! I am not looking forward to Home on the Range but I always try to go in with an open mind and if anything Atlantis should prove I will admit to being dazzled even if nobody else is.

    1. Just shows how differently people can see the same work of art! I’m glad you enjoy it. 😉

  2. Yeah, I agree 100%, all the way from the songs, to the unlikable lead, just everything. I will tear this film apart. It is really unrealistic for hi to choose a bear over a brother he has known for his entire life. It is supposed to be this big, grand film, but it really is not.

    1. I’m glad you agree! Nice to not be alone on this one. I was shocked because it has the trappings of a good movie but none of the substance. I look forward to reading your review. It really ticked me off and was incredibly frustrating to watch.

  3. No offense, Rachel, but I actually liked this movie. I didn’t as much 10-11 years ago, but now, I’d say I like it a little bit better now then back then. Now, just hear me out! I definitely thought both the beginning and the end were great. The middle, yeah that wasn’t so great. Also, I did at least like a couple of the songs like “Great Spirits,” “On My Way,” & “Look Through My Eyes.” Also, I thought it was creative for them to play a song while Kenai is making his confession to Koda. So all in all, I’d at least give it a C, maybe C+. It’s not definitely Disney’s best for sure, but I’d rather watch this than either Home On The Range or Chicken Little any day. Nevertheless, I respect your opinion on this film.

    1. No offense taken. It’s just an opinion and I fully see how what bothered me may not be a stumbling block for others. Thanks for reading!

      1. I’d love to hear your thoughts on other reviews. I am usually very positive. Out of 47 films I’ve only given 11 Ds or Fs.

      2. You’ll be hearing my opinions on a few of your other reviews some other time.

      3. Cool. Look forward to it. It’s been such a fun project to work on, enjoy entertainment, work on my writing and share with others, as my knee has been recovering (tore my MCL in July).

  4. Way to sum it up! Actually, I`ve never seen this one. But now I never will bother with it! So thanks for that! haha. I see you mentioned Treasure Planet, Imma go find that review now!

    1. They aren’t terrible but just forgettable. A far cry from Tarzan and the placement in the show doesn’t work as well and Tina Turner sings one of them which was strange choice.

      1. Yeah, I wish they had just stuck with Phil Collins singing even the first song in the film. Oh well! I wouldn’t say they’re all forgettable. I mean while they’re not even close to up there with the songs from Tarzan, I thought “Look Through My Eyes” was the only only memorable one of all the songs in the film. But that’s me. But yeah, the rest were either not as memorable or just forgettable for sure.

  5. No biggie, but this film actually has 38% on Rotten Tomatoes (and the second one has 50% on Rotten Tomatoes). Anyway, just saying!

    1. Thats what I said Chicken Little and Brother Bear are in 30 percentages and the rest are pretty close to fresh (in 50s)

  6. That’s true! However, you said that this film had a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Anyway, just thought I’d help you out regarding that. Still, like I said, I’d watch Brother Bear over Chicken Little any day.

    1. Oh oops. Thanks for that correction. I hope never to have to make that choice but I would rather watch Brother Bear than Dinosaur or Chicken Little

  7. You’re welcome! Although, to be fair, if I at least had to choose between Dinosaur and Chicken Little, I’d definitely rather watch the former over the latter any day. Well, for your sake, I hope you don’t ever have to make that choice either.

      1. Oh, by the way, have you ever watched a video where a guy named Animated Atrocity (aka Big Man X) reviews this film? If not, you should click on at least part 2 of that and watch ateast the very first minute of it. It’s really funny. The video is called Animated Atrocity Brother Bear Part 2. Anyway, feel free to let me know what you think.

      2. I have seen his reviews. His one of Chicken Little is totally on point. Will have to watch this one too. Brother Bear was so frustrating because it could have been good but their decisions were so off.

  8. I wouldn’t say that they were off by 100%, but I agree that quite a few things were for sure.

  9. After putting it off for ages, I finally got round to watching ‘Brother Bear’; and my thoughts can be summed up as a more subtle version of Doug Walker’s Disneycember review. I thought it started out actually quite well, but as soon as Kenai turned into a bear things go downhill, which I will highlight in a minute. I like how the antagonist, Kenai’s brother, has very understandable motivations for continuing his quest for vengeance, and you can see his determination and passion drive him on. The ending, taken out of context, could have been quite powerful, but the film as a whole doesn’t reflect that. Oh, and one other positive standout was Michael Clark Duncan as this one big bear from the salmon scene, I thought he was kinda cool.

    Apart from that, I’d say that for Disney’s Animated Canon it’s probably in my bottom five, with ‘Home on the Range’ and ‘Chicken Little’ as the bottom two. Not even your worst, ‘Dinosaur’, disappointed me as much as this movie did. The humour falls flat thanks to the two mooses, poorly animated slapstick and Koda’s jokes. Bad drama makes great comedy, but bad comedy is worthless. Having the animals speak in modern dialogue takes away any sense of time and place the film is going for. The emotional scenes were also wooden; I did not buy into Kenai and Koda’s relationship. I loved Phil Collins’ work in ‘Tarzan’, but here it feels so forced. Like Doug says, the scene were Kenai tells Koda the truth just doesn’t hold the resonance that it should because they’re using the song as a crutch. Imagine if a Madonna song played over Mufasa’s death!!

    The Achilles’ Heel is the main character, Kenai was such an unlikable protagonist that I didn’t even want to see him redeemed in the end. Writing a main character with flaws is one thing; Simba was shown to be naive and full of himself in The Lion King but he was still playful, protective of his friends and wanted to better himself, and I don’t get that from Kenai. Joaquin Phoenix also felt horribly miscast, putting on this whiny and petulant voice just pushes any possibility for likability over the edge. Overall, the film is a mess and a sad entry for Disney in 2003. If ‘Lilo and Stitch’ was the final hurrah for 2D animated films, ‘Treasure Planet’ was like an affectionate goodbye letter to the audience, and this is neither of those things.

  10. Did you ever see the movie “The Bear”? I ask because when I first saw this one, I thought it had lifted a large portion of the plot from that movie. (“The Bear” didn’t have a human transform, just two bears running from hunters). Anyway, I agree with you – this movie stunk. It was interesting to learn why it was made (all things considered, I’m not a fan of Eisner’s tenure as CEO).

    1. Yeah he was pretty terrible for Disney. I did see The Bear but it’s been a long time. I will have to watch it again. I have seen Disneynature Bears and that’s good!

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