It's known that mama bears are very protective of their cubs, and that is the basis of the Disneynature movie "Bears." Maternal devotion and the fact that the first year of parenting is often the toughest are at the heart of the film.
"Bears" is Disneynature's latest installment in its documentary releases around Earth Day. It follows a mother bear named Sky and her two cubs, Amber and Scout. Narrated by John C. Reilly, the film follows both their adventures and their struggle to survive in the Alaskan wilderness.
Threats are all around, including wolves, tides, lack of food, or other bears. The struggle, however, is tempered with a lot of "awwwwww" moments, some funny bear cub antics and humorous narration by John C. Reilly. We were all really impressed by how fun he was here and noted that you don't always appreciate a narrator, but he added a great deal to "Bears."
My tween really liked the movie. She has been wanting to go since she saw the first preview, and it lived up to expectations. She can get bored in movies, and reports that she was not bored in this one.
My girl is sensitive and I worried that the honest portrayal of nature's harsh realities would be a bit much for her, but it wasn't. My husband pointed out that they did a good job of keeping the tension present but without showing anything disturbing on screen.
I appreciated that it was educational and honest about the struggles creatures face to survive, but not traumatizing. Disney walked that line nicely in "Bears" and also managed to portray both the brutality and beauty of the wilderness and its native residents.
"A few gruesome fish-eating scenes" were the worst part in my tween's opinion and they really weren't too bad.
The cinematography of the film is stunning. It made me want to go to Alaska and my tween said that she really hadn't seen much of Alaska and it was far prettier than she expected, so that bit of geographical appreciation is nice bonus.
My husband thought Scout and Amber were cute, but he wondered about the absence of a papa bear. It's a valid point, one the film never addresses. A quick explanation that father bears don't stick around and that mama bears are solely responsible for rearing cubs would have been helpful, as I imagine a lot of kids will wonder about that.
We were rooting for Sky, Scout and Amber throughout the film and even if you aren't a nature fan, there's a lot to appreciate here and many of the lessons and touching moments extend to humans, too.
The film is pretty short, with a run time of 1 hour, 17 minutes, and is rated G. A portion of ticket sales from April 18 through April 24 will go to the National Park Foundation.
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