So I haven't watched this movie since I was probably five or six. I remember being super bored by it as a child in the theatre and I've just used that memory to cloud my judgement of this movie for a long time. I've crapped on this movie so much and even ranked it in my bottom two or three Disney movies. I decided that I really needed to give this one another go because it has gained quite the cult following. To the extent that Disney is looking into this property to do a live action remake with.
You know what, I've always been the one to say Disney should try remaking their films that didn't work but had a whole lot of potential. Like for example, Treasure Planet which has good ideas but ultimately is a hot dumpster fire of a movie.
So I actually think this should be one of the Disney films to be remade. Maybe that's blasphemous to some who hold a special place in their heart for this movie. You know what- I totally get it. I love obscure Disney and anytime I see anything related to this film in the Disney Parks I get kinda giddy. While I didn't like this movie as a kid, it's cool to see something from my era get represented in the parks. You can find a sculpt of Koda in the WIlderness Lodge Resort if he is still there.
Anyways, long introduction aside what are my thoughts on Brother Bear? Well- it's okay I guess. It's a lot better then I remember it being. This certainly isn't F tier Disney as I remembered it. This has a lot more going for it then the likes of Chicken Little or Home on the Range.
Sequences of this film are just stunning. The animation and color grading are. awe inspired and the music done by Phil Collins is effective. There's a few jams here. It doesn't hit as hard as that Tarzan soundtrack but regardless it's good stuff.
Except for when the music is used incorrectly. Look, this movies premise is actually really compelling and this film can actually get in some pretty dark and emotional places. Yet, they cheat us of real growth a lot through this movie. There's two moose here who don't do much but just banter and ruin screentime that could have been used for actual growth. This has the typical, "you annoy me but I have to go on this quest with you so I can get what I want but oh no we are bonding" troupe Disney uses for over half of their films. Disney can pull this off when there is real growth in it's characters. For instance, Emperor's New Groove has a similar arc yet those characters get fleshed out so much better then anyone in this movie.
Character revelations are just made in the blink of an eye. That is due to a screenplay that lacks any nuance and pulls its punches. The scene that makes me the most upset is what should be the most tragic scene in the film. The main character makes a revelation and must tell Koda something that he did. I won't spoil it in case you haven't seen the film. If this was Pixar (or even Disney Renaissance era) this would be a quiet sobering moment that would have all of us in tears. BUT PHIL COLLINS SONG IS INSERTED HERE INSTEAD OF ANY ACTUAL DIALOGUE OR MOMENT OF GROWTH. It's ridiculous. Phil Collins just tells you exactly how you are supposed to feel instead of the film doing it by itself. It's a pretty song and a sad moment but its as emotionally pandering a scene as I've ever seen and it could have been so good if handled differently.
So yeah, it's still not a very good movie but there's stuff to admire about Brother Bear I didn't see the first time so there's that.