John C. Reilly
This film, narrated by John C Reilly, is the story of a mama bear and her two cubs, one boy and one girl, and their first long year of survival in the Alaskan wilderness. Life is dangerous there, especially for cubs, and Mama has to be on her toes to keep them safe and fed. They have many challenges from other wildlife, to a lack of food, to the harsh elements to keep them in constant danger, but as we see, they have time now and then for fun and learning as well.
Every year on Earth Day, Disneynature gives us a new wildlife film. These have been kind of hit and miss. Some were excellent, others not so amazing. This one is different than most, for the simple reason that it goes back to the age old Disney style of making a story out of the nature footage.
Since the very early days, Walt Disney wanted to educate families and teach them about those animals that share our planet. Disney sent out wildlife photographers all over the world to capture years worth of footage of wild animals at work and play from pole to pole. Often on Sunday Night int he 50’s and 60’s as we sat down at Grandma’s house after dinner (she had the only color tv) to watch The Wonderful World of Color. Sometimes a Disney “Tru Life Adventure” or other animal film would come on and I undoubtedly would feel disappointed. Who wants to see “Charlie the Lonesome Cougar” when it could be an hour with Mickey and Pluto, or Donald, or Goofy. But every time I was pulled in and sucked into the story and I always loved it. I still occasionally get to see one of the old nature films on cable. Disney took some flack for naming the critters and making us believe that they knew what they were thinking. “Leonardo the Lion knew that it was time for something to eat before he became too weak, and he was tired of the same old thing. He was looking for something a little different tonight”. Purists want their nature films to be plain and straight forward like some of the National Geographic specials that have very little narration. In “Bears” John C. Reilly goes all out with the script, giving us all the thoughts, feeling, worries, and problems that the bears face. This is a story worthy of Disney of old, and whether or not the bears are actually thinking all this stuff or not, we get it all. John C Reilly I thought at first was a rather unusual choice for the narrator, but after I while I came to realize that a Morgan Freeman or a James Earl Jones voice wouldn’t have been suitable for this script. John C Reilly’s everyman approach to the story was actually quite perfect. I know this is one nature film that young and old will both enjoy, and I thought it was artfully done. Hooray for the Disneynature folks taking a shot at doing a nature film the old way by giving the animals character and making them seem real. I really enjoyed this year’s film.
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