The Country Bears (2002)
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-The Country Bears: Out Of The Woods
Scene Editing Workshop-Video Mix Master Jamboree
Featurette-The Country Bears Concert For America
Audio Commentary-Peter Hastings (Director), Ted (Character) & Zeb (Character)
Music Video-The Kid In You-Krystal Marie Harris
Song Lyrics-Sing With The Movie
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (57:52)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Peter Hastings|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Daryl 'Chill' Mitchell
Haley Joel Osment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Song Lyrics
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, cameos during end titles, scene after end titles|
Sooner or later this had to happen. We've had films based on books, plays, operas, cartoons, other films, paintings and records - and now this is a film based on a theme park attraction. More specifically, the Country Bear Jamboree show at Disney World.
The plot can loosely be described as a kiddies version of Blues Brothers meets The Spinal Tap. The premise is that The Country Bears was once a famous rock and roll band starring a bunch of bears (in reality a combination of animatronics and actors in bear costume).
As usual, they broke up due to "artistic differences", an incompetent agent and a massive ego or two. The band members are now doing various jobs including stage hand, gardener, marriage counsellor and wedding singer.
However, the Bears have not been forgotten. A young cub, Beary Barrington (voice of Haley Joel Osment), is a steadfastly loyal fan. He has been adopted by a human family, consisting of step-dad Norbert (Stephen Tobolowsky), step-mum (or "mom" if you prefer) (Meagen Fay) and obnoxious step-brother Dex (Eli Marienthal).
Dex continually bullies Beary and reminds him that he is "not the same" as the rest of the family, so Beary decides to run away and find his true roots.
He soon arrives at Country Bear Hall, the venue made famous by Country Bear concerts of the past. Sadly, it has become run down. Henry (voice of Kevin Michael Richardson), who used to be the Bears' manager, hasn't met his mortgage payments for the past few years and the bank manager Reed Thimple (Christopher Walken) is threatening to foreclose and demolish the building.
Beary suggests that Henry should try and get the band back together again for a benefit concert to save the hall. The two set off in the old Country Bear bus, accompanied by road manager "Roadie" (M.C. Gainey) and "Mr. Chicken".
What follows is a road trip where they track down and eventually reunite the band members:
In the meantime, the Barringtons have reported Beary missing and two officers Hamm (Daryl Mitchell) and Cheets (Diedrich Bader) are on the case.
There are quite a lot of cameo appearances by real musicians, including Don Henley, Wyclef Jean, Elton John, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Brian Setzer, Queen Latifah, Don Was and Xzibit. In addition, Krystal Marie Harris and Jennifer Paige get to sing a song each.
The message of this film is that racism is bad and we should celebrate differences ("bears are human too"). However, at one stage the Bears talk about Trixie having left Tennessee for a rich "panda" prompting one of them to make a remark about pandas owning "everything" which curiously I found rather offensive.
Unlike Region 1, we do get a widescreen 16x9 enhanced transfer, in the intended aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
This is a stunningly beautiful and reference quality transfer, with lots of detail and vibrant, fully saturated colours. After watching many recent films that have been digitally graded to create washed out or exaggerated colours, it was nice to see real colours, and every scene in this film has been beautifully captured and presented.
Compression artefacts were virtually non-existent, apart from a slight case of Gibb's effect around the dead tree trunk at 15:44-15:50.
There are a number of subtitle tracks, including English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Hebrew, Croatian, Slovenian, and English Song Lyrics. I did not notice a lot of differences between the first two, and the song lyrics are selected via a menu item ("Sing With The Movie").
This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 57:52 and results in a slight pause.
There are two audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
The soundtrack is reasonable pleasant to listen to and sounded quite decent, though it's lacking a bit in "punch" compared to an action blockbuster. Surprisingly, it wasn't as dialogue-focused as I expected. Foley effects were used fairly often and intelligently placed.
The surround channels were reasonably well utilized for foley effects and music ambience.
The LFE channel was only lightly used, one example being the sound of the garage falling down around 17:19-17:20.
There are numerous songs performed within the film, and these came through reasonably well and full-bodied.
Dialogue was crystal clear throughout and I did not notice any issues with audio synchronization.
|Surround Channel Use|
Surprisingly, there is quite a number of extras on this disc.
The menus are 16x9 enhanced. The main menu is preceded by an extensive introduction, and the menu itself is animated and includes background audio.
This is a mockumentary supposedly chronicling the fame, break-up and reunion of the Country Bears. It features "behind the scenes footage", and interviews with the bears, Roadie, Kip Holland, Henry, Beary (all "in character") plus real life musicians such as:
In addition, the following cast and crew members are also interviewed:
This featurette is presented in full frame video and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
This consists of a short audio introduction by Ted Bedderhead (0:48) (plus accompanying animation) explaining how to use the navigation buttons to string together five short music clips in any order to make your very own Country Bear music video.
This is another mockumentary, presented in a mixture of full frame ("concert footage") and approximately 1.55:1 letterboxed (film excerpts and "back stage footage") and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). It contains backstage footage and excerpts from the Bear's historic reunion concert, as well as a "history" of the band.
Interviews (in character and also with real life musicians) include
The mockumentary is presented, written and directed by Barnette Ricci. The bears perform four songs in the concert. In addition, we also get excerpts from the film (presented at 1.55:1).
This is a commentary track with the director and two of the "cast" members speaking "in character." Interesting concept, as "Ted" and "Zeb" try to create the illusion that they are really two of the Country Bear members commenting on the film, with director Peter Hastings trying vainly to interject a few factual comments. The bears even bicker with one another and answer a call on the mobile phone during the commentary. The commentary track is meant to be funny and humorous, but I found it a bit tedious.
This is presented in 1.78:1 letterboxed (non 16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:
A widescreen rather than pan & scan transfer makes Region 4 the clear winner. Yay!
The Country Bears is a feature length film based on the Disney World theme park attraction. Plotwise, it is The Blues Brothers meet Spinal Tap.
The video transfer is reference quality.
The audio transfer is above average.
Extras are reasonably extensive and include a commentary track as well as two mockumentaries and a music video.
|DVD||Panasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)|
|Speakers||Front and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|