The Country Bears
|The Country Bears|
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Peter Hastings|
|Produced by||Jeffrey Chernov
|Written by||Mark Perez|
|Based on||Walt Disney's Country Bear Jamboree|
Haley Joel Osment
|Music by||Christopher Young
|Editing by||George Bowers
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||88 minutes|
The Country Bears is a 2002 American family musical film, directed by Peter Hastings, produced by Walt Disney Pictures, and based on the famous Disney attraction Country Bear Jamboree. The film stars Haley Joel Osment as the voice of Beary Barrington with supporting roles done by Christopher Walken, Stephen Tobolowsky, Daryl Mitchell, M.C. Gainey, Diedrich Bader, Alex Rocco, Meagen Fay, Eli Marienthal, and the voice talents of Diedrich Bader, Candy Ford, James Gammon, Brad Garrett, Toby Huss, Kevin Michael Richardson, and Stephen Root.
It was Disney's third film based on an attraction at one of its theme parks, following Tower of Terror (1997) and Mission to Mars (2000) and followed by The Haunted Mansion (2003) and the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. It was released July 26, 2002.
The Country Bears are an all-bear country rock band whom have broken up in 1991 after years of popularity. Number One fan Beary Barrington (voiced by Haley Joel Osment), a young bear raised by a human family, feels left out for being different. His father (Stephen Tobolowsky) tells him that his family will love him no matter what, and that differences lead everyone to their purposes. But Beary's older brother Dexter (Eli Marienthal) gives him the truth about his background, angry and embarrassed.
Beary leaves home and sets out for Country Bear Hall, the former concert hall of the Country Bears. Beary learns from the property caretaker Big Al (voiced by James Gammon) and The Country Bears' manager Henry Taylor (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson) that Country Bear Hall is threatened with destruction by greedy banker Reed Thimple (Christopher Walken). After many attempts to raise the money to save Country Bear Hall, Beary suggests to Henry Taylor 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 (M.C. Gainey). Meanwhile, the Barringtons have enlisted police officers named Officer Cheets (Diedrich Bader) and Officer Hamm (Daryl Mitchell) to find Beary.
First, they approach Fred Bedderhead (voiced by Brad Garrett), the harmonica and electric bass player. Fred is working as a security guard on the set of 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 (Alex Rocco) whom Henry claimed had "stolen" the Country Bears from him. Henry calls up Rip who gladly agrees to promote the show. After the call, it is shown that Rip was in an office display of a store as he is told to leave. Fred brings up a talent show history where they defeated an armpit musician named Benny Boggswaggle (Michael Lawrence Morgan) in a talent competition which caused Benny to hit Zeb 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. When Big Al realizes that he is talking to Reed Thimple, he has Reed look in one direction. By the time Reed looks back, Big Al is on the steps of Country Bear Hall stating "I'm chubby, but I'm quick." Reed then moves on to his next plan.
Next, they approach Zeb Zoober (voiced by Stephen Root), the group's fiddler. Zeb has spent all his years drinking honey at the Swarming Hive Honey Bar restaurant and owes the owner named "Cha-Cha" (Queen Latifah) $500. Zeb wants to return, but can't without paying his debt. Beary places a bet to get Zeb off the hook by beating the house band in a playoff. Zeb starts off rusty, but warms up and wins. Meanwhile, Officer Cheets and Officer Hamm approach Big Al for directions to where Beary went.
Then, they approach Tennessee O'Neal (voiced by Toby Huss), the one-string guitar player, who is reluctant because he wants nothing more than to make up with his ex-girlfriend Trixie St. Claire, the band's keyboard player. At a restaurant, the Country Bears meet a waitress (Jennifer Paige) who is working to become a singer as she sings her upbeat version of "Kick It Into Gear." Afterwards, a news bulletin is seen on television as a TV reporter (Paul Rugg) does a story where the Country Bears and Roadie have "kidnapped" Beary. After being chased by Officer Cheets and Officer Hamm through a car wash, the Country Bears stop at a motel where Beary learns that Trixie St. Claire (voiced by Candy Ford) is performing at the motel's bar. Beary comes up with a successful plan which reunites Tennessee and Trixie.
Finally, they head out to find Ted Bedderhead (voiced by Diedrich Bader), the group's lead singer and guitarist. Ted is supposedly very rich now when they find a mansion where they learn from a gardener (who Zeb claims to look like 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 his is nothing more than a wedding singer as he sings "It's Not Unusual." Ted is knocked out by Fred and forcefully dragged onto the bus. Meanwhile, Officer Cheets and Officer Hamm return to the Bearingtons and set up equipment to prepare for when the Country Bears call in their "demands."
The Country Bears learn that Ted had been doing weddings and birthday parties as he mentions that the gardener they met was actually Elton John and that he rented a room over Elton John's garage. Zeb claims Ted to be the reason for the breakup, but Ted claims he held them together and no one was grateful, as the other members were all busy drinking honey (Zeb), blubbering (Tennessee), and staring into space (Fred). 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.
After various petty arguments, the Country Bears read Beary's school essay about them and they realize that Beary was right and decide that they must do the concert. Ted apologizes to Beary and tells him that they will only do the concert with him. But Reed Thimple kidnaps the rest of the Country Bears and steals the bus. Dexter suggests that they use part of Beary's tracking device to find them. 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 track down and rescue the band and head to the concert together.
When they get to Country Bear Hall, they find out that Reed Thimple has paid Rip not to promote the show, so the concert appears to be headed for failure. Rip even explains his reasons involving business with him ending with the fact that some of it was Reed Thimple's idea. As the other Country Bears restrain Henry from attacking Rip, Big Al arrives and asks if the Country Bears are doing their show tonight. When Fred states that nobody showed up, Big Al reveals that everyone was just out in the back field and that he didn't want anyone parking out on the front lawn. Big Al then opens the doors and a surge of people rush in as Reed Thimple is flushed out vowing to the Country Bears that their feud isn't over. The money raised from the concert is revealed to be enough to save the hall and the Country Bears perform with Beary as member of the band. The group performs their song "Straight to the Heart of Love" as the rest of the Barringtons and the audience watch the concert.
During the credits, a documentary about the Country Bears is shown with interviews with the celebrity musicians, Officer Cheets, and Roadie.
In the post-credits, a scene following the car wash scene had Officer Cheets explaining to Officer Hamm about everyone at the police station wearing a fake mustache as they get to their police car and let the water out of it.
- Christopher Walken as Reed Thimple, a banker who plots to destroy Country Bear Hall.
- Michael Lawrence Morgan as Young Benny Bogswaggle
- Diedrich Bader and Daryl Mitchell as Officer Cheets and Officer Hamm, two inept cops.
- 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.
- Stephen Tobolowsky as Mr. Barrington, Beary's honorable and good-natured father.
- Meagen Fay as Mrs. Barrington, Beary's excitable mother.
- Eli Marienthal as Dexter Barrington, Beary's older brother.
- Alex Rocco as Rip Holland, the former promoter of The Country Bears.
- Jennifer Paige as Waitress
- Jess Harnell as Long-Haired Dude
- Paul Rugg as TV Reporter
- Krystal as Herself
- Don Henley as Himself
- John Hiatt as Himself
- Elton John as Himself, he is mistaken as Ted's gardener by the other Country Bears.
- Queen Latifah as Herself and "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
- Xzibit 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 Country Bear's leader 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.
- Bonnie Raitt as Trixie St. Claire (singing voice)
- 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)
- 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, a member of the band and Ted's little brother.
- Kevin Michael Richardson as Henry Dixon Taylor, the M.C. 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.
- John Alexander as Big Al (suit performer)
- Julianne Buescher as Tennessee O'Neal (puppeteer)
- Alice Dinnean as Beary Barrington (puppeteer)
- Tom Fisher as Henry Dixon Taylor (suit performer)
- Terri Hardin as Trixie St. Claire (puppeteer), Big Al (puppeteer)
- John Kennedy as Zeb Zoober (puppeteer)
- Bruce Lanoil as Henry Dixon Taylor (puppeteer)
- Jody St. Michael as Tennessee O'Neal (suit performer)
- Denise Cheshire as Trixie St. Claire (suit performer)
- Tony Sabin Prince as Zeb Zoober (suit performer)
- Brian La Rosa as Ted Bedderhead (suit performer)
- Misty Rosas as Beary Barrington (suit performer)
- Kaepan Shaw as Fred Bedderhead (suit performer)
- Michelan Sisti as Ted Bedderhead (puppeteer)
- Allan Trautman as Fred Bedderhead (puppeteer)
Some of the puppeteers made cameos in the movie:
- Julianne Buescher, Jody St. Michael, and Terri Hardin were seen at the Swarming Hive Honey Bar where Julianne played a waitress and Jody St. Michael was seen as a patron with a tattoo of Tennessee O'Neal on his arm (which was painted by Julianne Buescher).
- Brian La Rosa and his wife Bess were seen as patrons at the hotel bar where Trixie St. Claire was performing.
The original music was composed by Christopher Young, and the songs were written by Brian Setzer, John Hiatt, Jimmy Tittle, Krystal Harris and Bela Fleck.
- "I'm Only In It for the Honey"
- "Where Nobody Knows My Name"
- "Straight to the Heart of Love"
- "Bear Mountain Hop"
- "Kick It Into Gear"
- "The Kid in You"
- "Let It Ride"
- "Just The Goin"
- "Can Love Stand the Test"
The film was a flop; budgeted at US$35 million, it grossed only $16,990,825 in the US and an additional $1,021,272 overseas. The film was released on DVD and VHS in 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.
Critically, the film earned negative reviews: On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film only received a 30% positive rating, its consensus stating: "Despite all the celebrities on hand, this spin-off from a theme park attraction still feels tired and hokey." Film critic Roger Ebert said "the formidable technical skills in The Country Bears must not be allowed to distract from the film's terminal inanity." Critic Sean O'Connell said of the film, "Bears is bad. Not 'terrible filmmaking' bad, but more like, 'I once had a nightmare like this, and it's now coming true' bad."