2003 Certificate: u

Synopsis

Traditional animation and the music of Phil Collins combine in this animalistic adventure that sees a native Indian boy coming of age when he's transformed into a bear. Made an outcast, the cub Kenai must undertake a challenging journey to prove himself and learn respect for the circle of life. Joaquin Phoenix voices the youngster whose ursine existence is a never-ending escapade of incidents and accidents.

Directors

  • Robert Walker

  • Aaron Blaise

Cast

  • Joaquin Phoenix

  • Michael Clarke Duncan

  • Jeremy Suarez

  • Rick Moranis

  • DB Sweeney

  • Jason Raize

  • Dave Thomas

Review

Rumour has it that the Magic Kingdom is ready to ditch the old-fashioned, cartoon style in favour of its slicker, hipper, digital kid brother.

Where Snow White, Dumbo and Bambi still have the power to enchant the nippers, the likes of Finding Nemo and Toy Story also pander to more sophisticated minds.

Only The Lion King really captured the imagination in recent years while efforts like Jungle Book II merely added box office nails to the traditionally animated coffin.

Brother Bear, however, has all the old Disney virtues - solid storytelling, engaging characters and ravishing scenery that's up with the best on offer.

However, it suffers a surfeit of cod spirtualism and bombastically bland musical interludes, courtesy of Phil Collins, that disrupt a compelling narrative flow.

Indian hunter Kenai (Phoenix) is transformed into a bear after he kills the grizzly that did for his adored brother Sitka (DB Sweeney), who died saving Kenai's life.

Cast out into the wilderness, Kenai - Winnie the Pooh with attitude - hooks up with bear cub Koda (Suarez) on his journey to the "mountain where the light touches the Earth".

It is there where Kenai will find his fate...but to get there he has to make a perilous journey through the forest and across a lava plain.

As long as it takes the opening credits to run, Kenai and his brothers manage to dodge a collapsing glacier, avoid a trampling by mammoths and escape a frisky school of whales.

In the old days, that would have normally been enough to last the length of a whole feature - but today's MTV generation of viewers have the attention span of Finding Nemo's Dory.

Add to that the irony and schoolboy humour brought in to keep pace with young audiences and you're lucky things turn out as appealingly as they do.

The main characters - Kenai and Koba - follow the well-worn path of initial adversaries but there is real warmth in their growing friendship.

It will be shame to see the old animation despatched to the dustbin of history but this will do very nicely until Nemo goes astray again.