Okay, I really like Brother Bear. It's almost entirely hand-animated in the traditional style, with only a few CG segments... and it's a very fun and friendly film that has a lot of the quality Disney was originally known for in their animated features.Long ago, as the Earth was emerging from the Ice Age, there were three brothers. After a bear takes the life of the oldest brother, impulsive youngest brother Kenai kills the bear in revenge, only to be transformed into a bear himself. Denahi, the middle brother, comes upon this bear and, thinking it killed Kenai, vows revenge. Now brother hunts brother and Kenai's only hope for survival is to befriend his own worst enemy, a grizzly cub named Koda. Koda main goal is to show Kenai the real meaning of brotherhood. [imdb]
While we've covered typical North American native tales and.or characters, here we are treated to a further North American Inuit tale. A subtle combination of Alaskan and Canadian influence, Brother Bear tells a story of a native American who gets turned into a bear to find the true meaning of love and brotherthood, etc etc etc... The story is a bit predictable really, but that's overshadowed by the beautiful animation and enjoyable characters.
The ultimate highlight of the movie for me was the casting of Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis of SCTV and Strange Brew fame. They play a couple of moose brothers who talk essentially just like Bob & Doug McKenzie. Another related highlight is the incredibly non-informative audio commentary, done by the aforementioned moose characters. The two actors are highly adept at improv, so it hardly ever got boring or old... although I admittedly would like to hear a real commentary track someday.
There's a bunch of special features, namely a 45-minute documentary on the making of the movie, paying a bit too much attention to Phil Collins and his soundtrack and score for the film. The music is good, of course... but it also seemed like half of the featurette was about the music.
Anyways, this was the last 2D, hand-animated film made before they shut down the Orlando studio... in favour of making more computer-animated films, a decision they seem to have properly reversed as of late. I don't know if they've re-opened the Orlando studios, but I know they've begun to leave the 3D CG movies to Pixar while veering the animation department at Disney back towards hand-drawn 2D films.
So yeah, Brother Bear is good and cute. I like it and hope for more like it.