Brother Bear (U) Review

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Brother Bear (U)
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zagureanu's review of Brother Bear (U)

“With hubby out for the day the world is my oyster, so...”


written by zagureanu on 11/01/2010

With hubby out for the day the world is my oyster, so what better way to spend it than to curl up on the sofa with a moose or two and watch one of my favourite films?

Me and Moose - nothing to do with the film

People often ask me why I'm obsessed with moose, and I'm afraid it's not really an answer which will make sense to anyone really. Basically on Comic Relief Day 1997 (ooooh, coming up for a 12 year anniversary) my friend Graeme and I had the following conversation:

G - Ask me if I'm a fish.

Me - Are you a fish?

G - No! Ask me if I'm a goose?

Me- Are you a goose?

G - No! Ask me if I'm a moose.

Me - Are you a moose?

G - No!!!

And thus the obsession was born. As I look round the living room I see that the siutation's getting quite serious now, while moose were once limited only to the moosery (aka the spare room) they are now taking over the house. It has even got to the stage now where I'm planning outfits for my babies (buying moose babygrows on eBay) when hubby and I haven't even started trying to get pregnant yet.

Anyway, I digress slightly - after a while I am finally in the mood to write again, and write I will - quite honestly all any consumer really needs to know about Brother Bear is that it's a fantastic film and it must be watched, so any words I write on top of that are surely a bonus.

Brother Bear

Imagine my absolute delight back in 2003 when Disney's Brother Bear was released, and I found out that that there were two moose characters in it. Off I trotted to the cinema with Graeme, and watched what was to become one of my all-time top 5 favourite films (it's an especially good one to watch when ill or hungover, and even hubby likes it).

Some facts about the film:

. The film was initially called 'Bears'

. The film is proper animation (although there are a few computer generated bits in it)

. Some have criticised it for being too similar to The Lion King -personally I've only seen The Lion King once, but think they are quite different films, and there's no moose in The Lion King!

. The films aspect ratio changes when Kenai is transformed into a bear

. Many have said that Brother Bear is the last good animated Disney film



I just have the standard one disc DVD. We start with a few random Disney trailers, then we're onto the title menu. There's Rutt and Tuke talking in the background about moose wings.

Anyway, the options are to Play, Bonus Material, Scene Selection and Set Up!

Bonus Material (there's a lot!)

. Koda's Outtakes - these aren't real outtakes, they've created them especially as if they were outtakes from a non-animated film. I suppose kids might enjoy them.

. Rutt and Tuke's commentary - their insights into the film. Basically it's the whole film being shown again with a running commentary from Rutt and Tuke. I have to admit I haven't sat through this, although have watched bits of it. I can't really bear watching films with an audio commentary though, even if they do mention moose!

. Look Through my Eyes - music video - a nice enough song, but doesn't really stick in the memory!

. Brother Bear Games:

Find Your bone -it's very slow, and can't see it appealing to anyone

Find your totem -Tanana asks you some questions, and from that decides your totem - apparently my totem is empathy - the spirit of the wolf. Hmmmm, not sure I agree with that, especially since wolves kill moose (I don't think there was a moose totem though!)

. Bear Legends told by Tanana -short tales about bears- How bears came to be, The Hunting of the Great Bear and The Boy who lived with Bears

. Making Noise- The Art of Foley -Koda talks about the sound effects from the film. Nice to actually see the actor who does Koda's voice, he looks nothing like I'd expected him to! In fact I never thought it was someone's real voice, I thought they'd been putting it on!

. Art Review - the animators talk about the animation on Brother Bear - how the Innuits inspired the characters, how the pictures were drawn. This is quite a nice little extra, especially the bit about creating Rutt and Tuke!

. Deleted Scenes

. Fishing Song

. Transformation Song

The Film - the story

The story is set long ago and is introduced by an elderly Denahi, telling the story of a great transformation in his brother Kenai - I wouldn't normally quote long passages from a film, but I think the opening is lovely:

"This is a story from long ago, when the great mammoths still roamed our lands. It's the story of my two brothers and me. When the three of us were young, we were taught that the world is full of magic. The source of this magic is the ever-changing lights that dance across the sky.

The shaman woman of our village told us that these lights are the spirits of our ancestors, and that they had the power to make changes in our world. Small things become big. Winter turns to spring. One thing always changes into another. But the greatest change I ever saw was that of my brother. A boy who desperately wanted to be a man..."

Kenai (voice -Joaquin Phoenix) is desperate to grow up. He has two older brothers -Denahi (Jason Raize) and Sitka (the eldest and sensible one - voice DB Sweeney). Kenai is the joker of the three, always getting into trouble and putting himself in dangerous situations - you should never try and milk a caribou!

It's the ceremony where Kenai is to become a man and receive his totem. Kenai is hoping for something 'manly' but instead the wise old shaman woman Tanana gives him the bear (and gets a little bear wooden charm to wear) - the totem of love. Of all the totems, this is the worst that Kenai could get - for example Sitka has the Eagle of Guidance. He is teased mercilessly by Denahi (who makes the situation worse, despite having the totem of wisdom). He is not happy, but he has to live by his totem in order to get his handprint on the wall and become a real man.

A series of unfortunate events lead to the death of Sitka, killed by a bear. Good old Disney, get the first tragedy out of the way at the start! Kenai feels responsible for Sitka's death (well, he is responsible for it really) and sets off to kill the bear. It's a dramatic opening, and might be scary for younger children. The bear who killed Sitka appears big and ferocious, a struggle takes place and then the spirits intervene.

There's a lot of dramatic music and artistic animation - the bear is dead and Kenai has gone. Denahi feels terrible for letting Kenai face the bear alone, and now feels he must get revenge - by hunting bears.

The world is peaceful again and we're back to the beautifully animated Disney scenary. Kenai is awake and Tanana is there. In a bizarre twist of fate, Kenai is now a bear (apparently Sitka arranged it). He is not happy, understandably. He must get to the mountain where the lights touch the earth and find the spirit of his brother. He doesn't really feel that he's done anything wrong, after all he was being a man by going after the bear - but that's what the film is all about.

Enter Rutt (Rick Moranis) and Tuke (Dave Thomas) the moose, two Canadian moose brothers, loveable, stupid but funny. They think Kenai is mad, after all he's a bear who claims to be a man. Kenai ends up stuck in a trap, and meets little Koda (voice Jeremy Suarez), a young bear who has recently got separated from his mum (hmmm, coincidence I think not!) and he never shuts up!

Koda gets Kenai out of the trap, but then he comes face-to-face with Denahi who wants to kill him, forgetting that he's a bear he can't understand why his brother wants to kill him.

Koda wants to get to the salmon run as he thinks he'll find his mum there. Kenai is not interested in helping Koda, until he finds out that the salmon run is where the lights touch the earth.

And so the story continues...

More about the film

This is a lovely story...Koda and Kenai's journey both physically and metaphorically. There's singing along the way, and lots of talking - Koda talking at Kenai mainly (perhaps he can get a tad annoying - but that's the idea). The two become closer despite Kenai not wanting to as he still believes that bears are monsters. But gradually he comes to realise what being a brother is all about.

The moose also join them during parts of the journey. Their game of I Spy is hilarious - well it appeals to me anyway! There are definitely some chuckles along the way, although the film in tone is generally pretty serious. The role of Rutt and Tuke really are comic relief from the seriousness, but also as another illustration of brotherly love.

I don't want to say more as that'd be giving away the story. Other characters of mention are the rams - my friend Graeme and I can spend ages doing impressions of them! And also the old woman bear (Mabel) who tells everyone her husband is dead, when he isn't!


. The relationship between man and animals - nature in general

. Love and brotherhood

. Death

. Growing up, reaching maturity, and responsibility

. Forgiveness

Like most Disney films, there's sadness at the end, and some possible tear-jerking moments. To find out what happens you'll have to watch it, but I don't think I'm really giving anything away by reminding you that Disney films are predictable!The animation throughout is stunning, and I feel it's up there with the other Disney Classics.

The Soundtrack

The background music to the film is all very pleasant - 5 songs written by Phil Collins. I wouldn't say that much of it sticks with you after the film, except perhaps 'On my way'. But it's very Disney, and fits in with the story excellently.

Brother Bear Shrine

For the purposes of this review I went upstairs to take a picture of my Brother Bear merchandise - unfortunately it's not that impressive, but I hope you like the photo nonetheless!

On the left of the Brother Bear poster you'll see a Disney Rutt, and on the other side the matching Tuke - I also have another slightly different Tuke. Then there's the McDonalds Happy Meal Rutt and Tuke, and nodding plastic figures from some sort of cereal I bought just to get the toys (I don't eat cereal!)


The film is just 85 minutes in length, so should keep children's attention. It's rated a U(niversal) - contains mild animated fight scenes and peril.

More about Brother Bear can be found here:

There is also a Brother Bear 2 which went straight to DVD in 2006 definitely worth a watch for Brother Bear fans, although not as good (although there are 4 moose in it) - perhaps I'll review that at some point!

I have no idea how much I paid for my copy, probably quite a lot since I got it when it was first out on DVD. However, it can currently be purchased on Amazon for £7.98. I have occasionally seen in shops a reasonably priced set of this film and the sequel, so if you see that then I'd certainly recommend!

Anything you'd like me to add then please give me a shout!

Please note I have spend ages trying to reformat this review and remove the ???s which Ciao has put in, but am sure I'll have missed some!

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