As anyone who watched Yogi Bear or Winnie the Pooh knows, a good chunk of a bear’s life is spent searching for food. A new Disneynature documentary, “Bears,” has an up-close-and-personal look at how real bears hunt for food in the wild, far away from Yogi’s pic-a-nics and Winnie’s honey pots.
Directed by “Planet Earth” wildlife legend Alastair Fothergill (with co-director Keith Scholey), “Bears” is the result of a year long shoot, following mother Sky, and her cubs Scout and Amber as they fight the elements, wolves and a nasty outcast bear named Chinook in a quest for the “bear” necessities of life.
“Bears” integrates story with an educational point of view. Kids will learn about the bear’s migration via beautifully shot film, stunning time-lapse photography. Unfortunately a strangely conceived voice over from John C. Reilly adds a narrative that anthropomorphizes the animals, adding in an unneeded storyline that seeks to humanize these majestic creatures. Shots of the mother bear delicately eating a clam is elegant and primal, it isn’t necessary to add silly narration to give human attributes to the bears.
It’s meant to make the story more relatable, bit feels a little trite—for instance a scene of Sky and Amber ripping a writing salmon apart is described as a mother and daughter’s sushi date—for a movie with such lush wildlife photography.
In short, let the pictures do the talking. Show me, don’t tell me.
Beyond the distracting VO, “Bears” is a welcome addition to Disneynature’s wildlife canon. There is some intense circle of life stuff that may upset young animal lovers, but the bears emerge with their dignity and majesty intact and kids will learn something while being entertained.
4 STARS FOR THE BEARS, 2 FOR THE NARRATION