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» AnimationNation   » General Discussion   » Ode to 'Brother Bear'

   
Author Topic: Ode to 'Brother Bear'
Charles
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Every so often I'll go back and take a look at an animated film a few years after I first saw it, to see how it holds up once some time has passed. I just did this with the Disney feature from earlier in the decade, Brother Bear.

A beautiful film that I believe didn't get the accolades it deserved when it was first released. I found aspects of a bit too formulaic as far as some of the acting goes, but I was once again very impressed with the overall quality of the movie.

The backgrounds were nothing less than magnificent. There wasn't one scene where I could ascertain any compromise in quality. The animation on the bears especially, and the wildlife in general was outstanding. Eclipsing the animation on the humans, which was very positive, but not on the level of the animals. I was very much enthralled with artistry of the animation on the bear characters. And of course, the effects animation was superb as one would expect from the Disney crew.

Visually, it was one of the Disney Studios most remarkable films of the later days of the second golden age of traditionally animated features, and if the artists, crew and staff were aware at the time that plans called for the end to the studio's hand drawn films, you certainly couldn't tell by any visible lack of enthusiasm on the part of the talented individuals who created it.

I'd like to extend my congratulations to everyone involved in the making of Brother Bear. I'm glad I revisted this film, it's a fantastic achievement!

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Greg B
IE # 118
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As being mostly of Native American descent I have a special place for that movie. I grew up hating bears. Not to say I've warmed up enough to pet one but after seeing the movie I softened up a bit. They were natural enemies of all sides of my ethnic background and stories still to this day of bear battles going back hundreds and hundreds of years. We still have the flintlocks my kin used way back in the 1700s fighting them critters and I learned how to kill bears with everything from guns, knives, arrows, and 20lbs hand made mallets of rock and branches.

Now, the other main reason I love that movie is because at the end of it there's a sight gag that was so funny I screamed so loud with laughter I woke neighbors up. It's when the characters are looking at their warped reflections.

That gag was so funny I had to call my sister up and warn her NOT to watch the movie or she'd end up ill from laughing.

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Mr. Fun
IE # 63
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Didn’t get the accolades? In my opinion, it didn’t get anything.

This is the movie Disney wanted to kill. They didn’t even wait for the critics to kill it -- because they wanted to do it Themselves. Such are the machinations of a big corporation.

A short time later, they would complete the job by killing the entire studio. Man, you gotta love these guys.

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Greg B
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Mr. Fun, don't you still work for Disney? You gotta be one brave dude to criticize the company you work for and have worked for on and off longer than most of us have seen our born days.

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Mr. Fun
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Thanks, for the compliments, Greg.

In my lifetime I’ve learned that even big shots respect honesty. They don’t want their butts kissed. Believe me, they’ve got plenty of people who will willingly do that. However, talk to them straight, and they’ll respect you.

Of course, they might fire your ass -- but at least they’ll respect you. I complained to my bosses at Disney, and even to Steve Jobs while at Pixar. Of course, I did so respectfully. And yes, on occasion, sometimes not so respectfully.

After all, even the gangsters say, it’s not personal -- it’s business.

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Greg B
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Thanks for the honest reply Mr. Fun.

With all the talk of blacklisting over the years I was under the assumption that if a fella ruffled the wrong feathers there would be no hope in Mudville.

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Mr. Fun
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Hey, Greg. The "Wrong Feathers" that get ruffled are always changing anyway.
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PHIL
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Yes, sometimes the comedy sidekick moose duo were a little too much but I too thought the quality of the film; animation, effects and art direction was up there with some of the best, so much so that I regarded it at the time as their last. I did not care for 'Home on the Range' and could not consider it a classic.

With management eager to shut the studio down (and I expect had already started doing so behind the scenes) it's easy to see why this and HOTR received little to no acknowledgement. The less publicity Disney gave to it's final few 2d film the less uproar there would be in the public domain. Who would want to save a studio that isn't proudly producing top quality traditional animation anymore?

Charles, I'm glad you brought this back to our attention because it definitely deserves to be remembered.

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Graphiteman
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quote:
The "Wrong Feathers" that get ruffled are always changing anyway.
That is great. That should be recorded in a book of quotes!

Brother Bear....hmmmm....The nicest thing I can say about it is it is the best bear animation ever surpassing Glenn Keane's Bear Scene in Fox & Hound. It always looked as if the artists always gave 110%. Unfortunately, like a lot of latter produced Eisner era features, there was writing that shattered my suspension of disbelief and destroyed the plausibility of the story. Time will not heal this for me.

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EustaceScrubb
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Maybe it was paranoia, but at the time it did sort of feel as if the then-current management (c. 2003) at Disney had already bought in to the idea that "2D is dead" and were committed to leaving the "old" 2D animation totally in the past and moving on to the perceived greener pastures of "3D" (especially because the relationship with Pixar had gone sour at that point) .

Kind of staggering to think they would sink so much time and effort (and money!) into projects that they then apparently decided they had no intention of doing a first-rate job to market , almost as if they were hoping the films would do poorly at the box-office so they could more easily justify closing down the traditional animation department.

Interestingly, "Brother Bear" did better overseas than at the domestic box-office. "BB" made $165,061,521 in the overseas box-office compared to $85,336,277 domestic , for a total b.o. of $250,397,798. (on a production budget of $85 million) .

If you like the art style of "Brother Bear" check out this page by one of the key background painters on the film, Xiangyuan "Jay" Jie :


http://jsbrush.blogspot.com/2007/02/more-old-stuff.html

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Greg B
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Leave it to Mr. Fun to come up with the line of the year!

Phil, right on there!

Eustace, those box office figures ain't to be sneezed at. I recall checking them out a while back and realizing the movie was a hit just not doing the numbers Disney wanted at the time I reckon.

I am reeling over at the fantastic background paintings you've linked to. I am a major fan of backgrounds and going all the way back to the Fleisher Bros. on up I try to keep up on backgrounds. There are some posts on the boards and links to some of the best.

Brother Bear's storytelling was just fine. Animation and overall production just fine. That ending credits gag with the distorted faces is still the funniest gag I've seen in years even when you could see it coming from a mile away.

One of my favorite bear cartoons however is that one from WB of the three bears when Jr. Bear was giving his father a birthday celebration.

"G U N P O W D E R uhhh tobacco!" Jr. Bear

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tstevens
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That last bunch of Disney films has always left me a little cold. I liked The Emperors New Groove while Atlantis, Treasure Planet and Home on the Range left me scratching my head. Brother Bear was good and definately an artistic achievement. However, all of the Disney films from this era have thier artistic merits. The problem is that they just don't have staying power.

Of all of the films produced in Disney's modern era the ones made at the Flower Street building probably stand out the most. When the crew was moved back onto the lot something got lost. I can probably chalk most of it up to executive intervention as well as the high pressure of living up to the success of The Lion King and its predecessors.

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Mr. Fun
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The move back to Burbank, and into the new “Hat Building” was the beginning of the end for Disney animation.

I remember meetings where clueless executives tried to replicate the successes of the past. As if there was some kind of formula that would lead them to success. Most were bozos. They didn’t understand animated film making and didn’t care to learn.

The classic Disney films were made by artists and story tellers. People who had an artistic vision. If only the executives had the smarts to let their creatives do their job. Want an example? Steve Jobs owned Pixar Animation Studios, and was wise enough not to meddle with something he knew nothing about. And, what did this way of thinking gain him? Seven billion dollars.

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E. Allen
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Not to mention a Best Animated Film Oscar, what, like, every other film or so?
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Greg B
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Mr. Fun hits another major point that has driven me nuts for years.

Execs who think they can "formula" or "process" success.

They follow some bizarre logic that they can bottle up creative success, push a couple of buttons, follow rigid processes and formulas fogetting "formula 1" which is let them create.

Sure discipline in the office and business is a foundation but it shouldn't be a millstone around the neck. You can get "suited" to within an inch of your life by analysts who know it all.

Great creative works continue to flower after completion, not contract and wait for the next day's sunshine. Great works are talked about today as they were when they premiered. With all the razzle dazzle 3D CGI stuff I can show people the original Fleischer Superman series or Gulliver's Travels and people and kids sit there with their mouths agape and tears in their eyes at the majesty and joy of these films.

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acme
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Brother Bear is definitely a great film.
I agree with you Charles in that I feel it holds up nicely. I think the more I see it the more it even grows on me.

I think when Disney releases a new film we tend to look at them with very critical eyes. Partly based on whatever the current views and trends are. After some time passes we tend to view those films differently. If they are formulaic it is in part because we are comparing it against all previous films. After time passes they become one those "previous films". Even if it was formulaic, it seems to eventually be called "classic Disney". That of course could just be in part the genius of Disney marketing.
[Big Grin]

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Zane Kohler

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