Scott Brown
October 22, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Brother Bear

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
G
runtime
85 minutes
performer
Joaquin Phoenix, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rick Moranis, Jeremy Suarez, D.B. Sweeney
director
Aaron Blaise, Bob Walker
author
Steve Bencich, Ron Friedman
genre
Animation, Kids and Family

We gave it a C

Mark it: Phil Collins officially has nothing more to teach us. The tunes he’s composed for Brother Bear are so generic, they’re modular: You could literally reposition a few Lego-like chords, shapes, and rhythms and create any Phil Collins song ever written. That would be just fine, if ”Bear” had any flair to relieve the recycled pop monotony. Sadly, the snoozy blues are suited to this last-ditch swing at recapturing Disney’s hand-drawn glory days; the film blatantly strip-mines ”The Lion King,” ”Beauty and the Beast,” and anything else its makers can get their paws on.

Despite some gorgeously Miyazaki-esque mattes and a grimly compelling story line — a brash young Native American (voiced by Joaquin Phoenix) tries to avenge a brother’s death by killing the bear responsible, only to be mystically sheathed in the dead beast’s skin and hunted by his surviving brother — the film never really digs in its heels. Collins warbles genially about a ”dark place” over one particularly poignant scene, raising the question of whether he (or the filmmakers) actually knows what a dark place is.

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