The Country Bears
The Country Bears is a 2002 American family musical comedy film, directed by Peter Hastings, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, and based on the Disney theme park attraction Country Bear Jamboree. The film stars Christopher Walken, Daryl Mitchell, Diedrich Bader (in a dual role), Alex Rocco, and Haley Joel Osment as the voice of Beary Barrington with the voice talents of Candy Ford, James Gammon, Brad Garrett, Toby Huss, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Stephen Root.
|The Country Bears|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Hastings|
|Produced by||Jeffrey Chernov|
|Written by||Mark Perez|
|Based on||Walt Disney's Country Bear Jamboree|
Daryl "Chill" Mitchell
Haley Joel Osment
|Music by||Christopher Young|
|Edited by||George Bowers|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$18 million|
It was Disney's second theatrical film based on an attraction at one of its theme parks and the third overall film based on an attraction following the television film Tower of Terror (1997) and the theatrically-released Mission to Mars (2000). Its world premiere was on July 21, 2002, at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, California. After that, it was released to theaters nationwide on July 26, 2002, and was a critical and commercial flop, grossing $18 million of its $35 million budget.
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The Country Bears are an all-bear country rock band who have disbanded in 1991 after years of popularity. Beary Barrington, a large admirer of the band and a young preteen bear adopted and raised by a human family, feels disowned for being different. His adoptive parents tell him that his family will love him unconditionally regardless, and that differences lead everyone to their purposes. But Beary's adoptive older brother, Dex, tells him the truth about his background.
Angry, embarrassed and sad, Beary runs away from home in the middle of the night and ventures out to the Country Bear Hall, the former concert hall of the Country Bears. Beary learns from the property caretaker Big Al and the band's manager Henry Dixen Taylor that Country Bear Hall is threatened with destruction by greedy banker Reed Thimple. After many attempts to raise $20,000 to save Country Bear Hall, Beary suggests to Henry to hold a benefit concert and the two of them set out to reunite the group with the band's bus driver and drummer Roadie. Meanwhile, the Barringtons have enlisted police officers named Officer Cheets and Officer Hamm to find Beary.
First, they approach Fred Bedderhead, the harmonica and electric bass player, who is working as a security guard on the set of pop singer Krystal's latest music video and agrees to return for the concert. Henry needs promotion and Beary suggests the group's former promoter Rip Holland whom Henry claimed had "stolen" the Country Bears from him. Henry phones Rip, who gladly agrees to promote the show. Fred then mentions a talent show history where they defeated an armpit musician named Benny Boggswaggle in a talent competition which caused Benny to angrily strike Zeb Zoober on the head with a chair. Meanwhile, Big Al is approached by Reed who learns about the Country Bears' plan and about Rip Holland promoting the show.
Next, they approach the band's fiddler Zeb Zoober, who has spent all of his years drinking honey at the Swarming Hive Honey Bar restaurant and owes $500.00 to the owner named "Cha-Cha". Zeb wants to return, but cannot do so without paying his debt to the restaurant. Beary places a bet to let Zeb off the hook by beating the house band in a playoff. Zeb starts his performance off by sounding rusty, but warms up and eventually wins.
Meanwhile, Officer Cheets and Officer Hamm approach Big Al for directions to where Beary went. Because Big Al does not mention that Beary is friends with them and has joined them, the officers think that the bears have kidnapped Beary.
They then approach Tennessee O'Neal, the one-string guitar player now a marriage counselor, who is very reluctant because he wants nothing more than to reconcile with his ex-girlfriend Trixie St. Claire, the band's keyboard player. After being chased by Officers Cheets and Hamm through a car wash, the Country Bears stop at a motel where Beary learns that Trixie St. Claire is performing at the motel's bar. Beary informs Tennessee about this and he goes in to reunite with her where they sing a duet together. She subsequently comes with the band to their reunion.
They finally head out to find Ted Bedderhead, the group's lead vocalist and guitarist. Ted is supposedly very wealthy now when they find a mansion where they learn from Elton John that Ted is still at the local country club working at the wedding. After Ted has the other Country Bears members leave, Fred eventually finds out that he is nothing more than a wedding singer. Ted is knocked unconscious by Fred-(who tries to convince him how important he means to the band, saying that they're a family) and forcefully dragged onto the bus. The Country Bears learn that Ted had been performing at weddings and birthday parties as he mentions that the "gardener" that they met was Elton John and that Ted rented a room over John's garage. Zeb claims Ted to be the reason for the band's disestablishment, but Ted claims that he held them together and that no one was grateful, as the other members were all busy letting their personalities and habits get in the way, citing Zeb's drinking, Tennessee's emotional outbursts, and Fred's immaturity. Beary reminds them that they claimed each other to be family, but Ted claims it to be meaningless publicity. Beary realizes the real meaning of family and returns home where he is happily reunited with his family.
The Country Bears read Beary's school essay about them, and they realize that Beary was right and decide that they must perform the gig. Reconciling with Beary, Ted insists that they allow him to join them during the concert. But Reed Thimple kidnaps the rest of the Country Bears and steals the bus. While holding them captive, Reed Thimple reveals to the Bears that he is really Benny Boggswaggle and is wreaking his vengeance on the Bears for stealing his one chance at fame. Beary, his family, and Ted use Beary's tracking device to track down and rescue the band, and they head to the concert together.
When they arrive at Country Bear Hall, they discover that Reed Thimple has paid Rip to not promote the show, so the concert appears to be headed for failure. Big Al suddenly arrives and reveals, to everyone's surprise, that he promoted the show himself, and had everyone parked in the back field (because he did not want any automobiles out on the front lawn). Big Al then opens the doors and a surge of people rush in, as a defeated Reed Thimple is thrown out of the building by the crowd while vowing to the Country Bears that their feud is not over. The money raised from the concert is revealed to be enough to save the hall, and the Country Bears perform with Beary as a new member of the band, as the rest of the Barringtons and the audience watch the concert.
- Christopher Walken as Reed Thimple, a banker and the main villain of the film, who plots to destroy the Country Bear Hall. He is actually an armpit musician named Benny Bogswaggle who lost to the Country Bears in a talent competition.
- Michael Lawrence Morgan as Young Benny Bogswaggle
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Mr. Norbert Barrington, Beary's honorable and good-natured adoptive father.
- Daryl Mitchell as Officer Hamm, an inept police officer
- Diedrich Bader as Officer Cheets, an inept police officer who wears a fake mustache.
- Alex Rocco as Rip Holland, the former promoter of the Country Bears.
- M.C. Gainey as Roadie, the bus driver for the Country Bears who also doubles as the band's drummer. He owns a pet chicken named Mr. Chicken.
- Meagen Fay as Mrs. Norma Barrington, Beary's excitable, yet easily worried adoptive mother.
- Eli Marienthal as Dexter "Dex" Barrington, Beary's adoptive older brother.
- Jennifer Paige as Waitress
- Jess Harnell as Long-Haired Dude, one of the Bears' fans who was later seen with Dex in the audience at the end of the film.
- Paul Rugg as TV Reporter
- Krystal as Herself
- Don Henley as Himself
- John Hiatt as Himself
- Sir Elton John as Himself, he is mistaken as Ted's gardener by the other Country Bears and has allowed Ted to bunk with him.
- Queen Latifah as Herself
- Latifah also plays "Cha Cha", the manager of the Swarming Hive Honey Bar restaurant.
- Willie Nelson as Himself
- Bonnie Raitt as Herself
- Brian Setzer as Himself
- Don Was as Himself
- Wyclef Jean as Himself
- Haley Joel Osment as Beary Barrington, an optimistic bear cub who idolizes the Country Bears.
- Elizabeth Daily as Beary Barrington (singing voice)
- Diedrich Bader as Ted Bedderhead, the lead vocals and guitar player of the Country Bears, and Fred's older brother.
- John Hiatt as Ted Bedderhead (singing voice)
- Candy Ford as Trixie St. Claire, the keyboard player and Tennessee's girlfriend who broke up with him to date a wealthy panda. She later rekindled her relationship with Tennessee upon the Country Bears getting back together.
- Bonnie Raitt as Trixie St. Claire (singing voice)
- James Gammon as Big Al, the sluggish and elderly property caretaker for the Country Bear Hall who is protective of the grass in front of the Country Bear Hall.
- Brad Garrett as Fred Bedderhead, the harmonica and bass player of the band, and Ted's younger brother.
- Toby Huss as Tennessee O'Neal, the one-string guitar player in the band who's the most sensitive.
- Don Henley as Tennessee O'Neal (singing voice)
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Henry Dixon Taylor, the MC and manager of the Country Bears.
- Stephen Root as Zeb Zoober, a fiddle player for The Country Bears. He is the most naive of the band.
- Alice Dinnean as Beary Barrington (facial assistant)
- Misty Rosas as Beary Barrington (in-suit performer)
- Michelan Sisti as Ted Bedderhead (facial assistant)
- Brian La Rosa as Ted Bedderhead (in-suit performer)
- Terri Hardin as Trixie St. Claire (facial assistant)
- Denise Cheshire as Trixie St. Claire (in-suit performer)
- Terri Hardin as Big Al (facial assistant)
- John Alexander as Big Al (in-suit performer)
- Allan Trautman as Fred Bedderhead (facial assistant)
- Kaepan Shaw as Fred Bedderhead (in-suit performer)
- Julianne Buescher as Tennessee O'Neal (facial assistant)
- Jody St. Michael as Tennessee O'Neal (in-suit performer)
- Bruce Lanoil as Henry Dixon Taylor (facial assistant)
- Tom Fisher as Henry Dixon Taylor (in-suit performer)
- John Kennedy as Zeb Zoober (facial assistant)
- Tony Sabin Prince as Zeb Zoober (in-suit performer)
Some of the puppeteers made cameos in the movie;
- Buescher, St. Michael, and Hardin were seen at the Swarming Hive Honey Bar where Buescher played a waitress and St. Michael is seen as a patron with a tattoo of Tennessee on his arm (which was painted on him by Buescher).
- La Rosa and his wife Bess were seen as patrons at the hotel bar where Trixie was performing.
|The Country Bears|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||July 23, 2002|
|Label||Walt Disney Records|
|1.||"Let it Ride"||John Hiatt|
|2.||"Where Nobody Knows My Name"||John Hiatt|
|3.||"Can Love Stand the Test"||Don Henley / Bonnie Raitt|
|4.||"The Kid in You"||Krystal Harris|
|5.||"I'm Only in it for the Honey"||Stephen Root / Brian Setzer|
|6.||"Kick it Into Gear"||Jennifer Paige|
|7.||"Straight to the Heart of Love"||John Hiatt|
|8.||"Bear Mountain Hop"||Bela Fleck|
|9.||"Just the Goin'"||John Hiatt|
|10.||"Where Nobody Knows My Name (Reprise)"||E.G. Daily|
|11.||"So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star"||The Byrds|
|13.||"Bearly Home (Score)"||Chris Young|
|14.||"Nylon Hymn (Score)"||Chris Young|
Budgeted at US$35 million, it grossed $16,990,825 in the US and an additional $1,021,272 overseas. The film was released on DVD and VHS on December 17, 2002. Though filmed in 1.85:1 widescreen, Region 1 DVDs present the film in full screen only though Region 2 and 4 present the film in widescreen.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a rating of 29% based on 82 reviews, with an average rating of 4.3/10. The site's consensus states: "Despite all the celebrities on hand, this spin-off from a theme park attraction still feels tired and hokey." Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a two out of four stars and said, "the formidable technical skills in The Country Bears must not be allowed to distract from the film's terminal inanity." Emma Cochrane of Empire Magazine gave the film a two out of five stars and said, "Too American, too country, too much like a slick, band extension cash-in, Country Bears hovers between cult video hit and utter rubbish, never being compelling either."
Christopher Walken was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor for his performance in the film, but lost to Hayden Christensen for Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.
- The Country Bears at Box Office Mojo
- "The Country Bears (2002) : Filming Locations". IMDb. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- "The Country Bears (2002) : Soundtracks". IMDb. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- "The Country Bears : DVD Talk Review of the DVD Video". Dvdtalk.com. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- "The Country Bears (2002)". MichaelDVD.com.au. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- "The Country Bears". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- "The Country Bears movie review". RogerEbert.com. July 26, 2002.
- "The Country Bears". Empire. January 1, 2000.
- "The Country Bears (2002) : Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
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