Lisa Schwarzbaum
July 24, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Country Bears

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
G
runtime
88 minutes
Wide Release Date
07/26/02
performer
Haley Joel Osment, Brad Garrett, Don Henley, Elton John, Queen Latifah, Eli Marienthal, Willie Nelson, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christopher Walken
director
Peter Hastings
distributor
Walt Disney Pictures
genre
Kids and Family, Comedy

We gave it a C

This is a movie based on a Disney theme park attraction. This is a movie in which people in animatronic bear suits pretend to be real talking bears who were once members of a famous country music band and are now just aging, working-stiff bears. Then a preteen bear (voiced by Haley Joel Osment) who’s sad because he doesn’t resemble the rest of his adopted non-bear family reunites the band through a combination of flattery and nagging. It’s sort of an ursine ”The Last Waltz,” with more costumes and no direction from Martin Scorsese.

The whole talking-animal thing is grisly in The Country Bears, but there are some diversions. Christopher Walken delivers a singular, non-Method performance as a mean (non-bear) bank manager who performs an armpit-fart version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. And non-bear musicians including Elton John and Queen Latifah make cameo appearances.

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