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Brother Bear

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Brother Bear

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Suarez
Director: Aaron Blaise
Rated: G
RunTime: 85 Minutes
Release Date: November 2003
Genres: Animation, Kids, Family

*Also starring: Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas, Joan Copeland, Michael Duncan, Jason Raize, D.B. Sweeney

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Disney's latest movie, BROTHER BEAR, is a gorgeous picture that is its prettiest traditionally animated movie since THE LION KING. Bursting with stunning pastel colors, especially in the wide-open sequences, the film is a visual delight. Thanks to some great new Phil Collins music and songs, one of them sung by Tina Turner, the movie is also a feast for the ears.

And then there's the script by no less than five writers (Tab Murphy, Lorne Cameron, David Hoselton, Steve Bencich and Ron J. Friedman). It's kind of cute -- but just not cute enough. Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas voice the parts of Rutt and Tuke, a pair of buffoon moose who get most the story's few laughs. Rutt and Tuke are a comic duo who clearly want and deserve their own movie.

The story, set in the Pacific Northwest just after the end of the last Ice Age, concerns Kenai (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix), a Native American lad who is going through the ceremony that leads to manhood. He's a headstrong youth who ends up getting himself transformed into a bear. Jeremy Suarez voices the part of Koda, the bear cub who becomes Kenai's comical sidekick.

Most of the story is basically recycled material. The movie wants us to believe that its message is: "Love is very powerful," but most of the story is devoted to Kenai learning that animals view hunters as monsters and that killing animals is bad. Given the relative scarcity of corner grocery stores 10,000 years ago, Kenai and the rest of his tribe would be hard pressed to survive without hunting.

BROTHER BEAR runs 1:25. The film is rated G and would be acceptable for all ages.

My niece Liana, age 6, laughed a lot during the movie. Her favorite characters were Koda and the two moose. Her brother William, age 9, said that he thought the movie was pretty good.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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