When I was in California for the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, I had the honor of seeing an advance screening of the Disneynature movie Bears that was just released. The film is the fifth from the new production company and follows the first year of life of a family of brown bears, a mom and her twin cubs. (I was invited to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration this year where I paid my own conference fees and received gifts during the conference. All opinions, experiences and thoughts are my own.)
The movie opens as the cubs are born, tiny little eyes peeking out from their winter hibernation with mom Sky. The narrator John C. Reilly keeps a running commentary on fascinating facts, as well as noting what the bears are doing. It was foreboding to hear near the beginning that one in two cubs doesn’t survive the first year. With twins Amber and Scout, I kept waiting throughout the whole movie, tense to see which cub would not survive and why.
The brown bears in the Alaskan Peninsula have to trek from their mountain winter homes to the prairie below where they feed on sedge grass until they can make it to the salmon runs where they will eat 90 pounds of fish a day. There are constant hazards along the way from threats from other bears to a wolf named Takaani who tries to lure young cubs far enough away to capture them and more. The challenge for the bears is that where there is safety, there isn’t much food to survive, yet where they can find food, danger also often accompanies it.
I will admit that (having not seen the previous four Disneynature movies), I was a little meh on seeing the movie. The wee ones were excited, however, so there was no way I was going to skip it. I was pleasantly surprised (shocked?) that the movie was as good as it was. The narration certainly helped to create a story, but the bears alone were fascinating.
It was interesting to see how different the personalities of the cubs were. Scout was constantly on the lookout for adventure, not really sticking with his mom as he should and always interested in going his own way. Amber, on the other hand, was sort of a Lisa Simpson type personality in my mind. She was always the do-gooder who was going to be perfect. No way was she the one who was going to fall asleep on the sandbar as the tide rolled in!
Bears brought to my life the struggle for their survival in a way I’d never thought of it before. I simply assumed that bears are the biggest and the baddest, and they rule the area. Seeing how difficult their life actually is – from the huge migration they undertake every year to the struggle to find food – was eye opening. The movie was cleverly conceived so that it didn’t feel like a dry documentary as I had expected by an entertaining narrative that happened to have educational benefits.
I loved watching the bears play with each other and ride on Sky. It was hilarious to watch the bears attempt to catch the salmon. My stomach shriveled every time I saw Takaani appear, knowing that this might be the moment a cub disappears from the movie for good.
As cute and adorable as the movie is, however, I don’t know that I would recommend it for all children, even though it is rated G. There is a sense of danger that can be disturbing to young children who are likely to pick up on it, and I would not want to make my children afraid of nature before they can comprehend it more fully. My eight and ten year olds thoroughly enjoyed the movie, however, and Mister Man is excited to see it again in a couple weeks with his youth group.
Need more of a Disney fix? Check out my other posts from the 2014 Disney Social Media Moms Celebration
What I learned from the Disney Fun Run (and Costumes!)
An overall summary of my experience at Disney Social Media Moms
Why I can’t wait to see Maleficent (in theaters May 30)
A lesson to be inspired by your typos, thanks to Disney’s Gary Buchanan