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Film / The Country Bears

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The Country Bears is a 2002 American film, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by Peter Hastings from a script by Mark Perez, based on the Disney Theme Parks attraction Country Bear Jamboree. It was Disney's third movie based on a ride or attraction, following Tower of Terror (1997) and Mission to Mars (2000), and followed by Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and The Haunted Mansion (2003). It is directed It was released July 26, 2002.

The film follows Beary Barrington (Haley Joel Osment) a young bear raised by a human family in a world where humans and talking bears coexist, attempting to trace his roots. He meets up with the Country Bears, a long-since broken-up band and helps the Country Bears reunite for one final concert. The film details the Country Bear's attempts to get together their final concert while facing the antagonism of Thimble (Christopher Walken), who is bent on destroying their concert hall.

The film also stars Daryl Mitchell as Officer Hamm, Diedrich Bader as Ted Bedderhead and Officer Cheets, Alex Rocco as Rip Holland, Stephen Tobolowsky as Norbert Barrington, MC Gainey as Roadie, Meagen Fay as Norma Barrington, Eli Marienthal as Dex Barrington, Candy Ford as Trixie St. Claire, James Gammon as Big Al, Brad Garrett as Fred Bedderhead, Toby Huss as Tennessee O'Neal, Kevin Michael Richardson as Henry Dixon Taylor and Stephen Root as Zeb Zoober.

The Country Bears provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Trixie looks more attractive compared to how she appeared in the original attractions at the Disney Theme Parks, where she was chubby.
  • Adaptational Name Change: In the original attraction, the show is called Country Bears Jamboree, but the band is called The Five Bear Rugs.
  • And Starring: The cast roll here ends with "and Haley Joel Osment as the voice of 'Beary'".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When news of Beary's disappearance appears on the local news.
    "People are on the lookout for this ten-year-old boy, who was last seen with this man (Henry). Witnesses believe the man's accomplices are this man (Fred), this man (Roady), and this chicken (Roadie's pet chicken)."
  • Band Toon: Parodied in one scene, where the Bears watch a rerun of a badly-animated old cartoon about themselves while staying in a hotel.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Dexter, who seems genuinely remorseful when he realizes that Beary pretty much ran away from home because of him.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Movies, apparently.
  • The Bet: Beary proposes a wager at the honey bar where Zeb hangs out: Zeb and his fiddle, versus the house band (The Brian Setzer Orchestra), in a musical duel. If Zeb wins, his financial debt to the bar is lift, but if he loses, Cha Cha (Queen Latifah as the bartender) keeps the Country Bear Tour Bus.
  • Canon Foreigner: Beary was created for this movie.
  • Celebrity Cameo: Willie Nelson and Elton John both appear in the film. Other cameos include: Jess Harnell, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Paige, et al.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Big Al's grass in the end.
    • Towards the beginning of the movie, Dexter shows Beary his "birth certificate" (a tracking-collar and remote that park rangers used on him as a baby). Beary takes the collar with him when he runs away from home, but he didn't take the remote; this allows them to track down the bus after Thimble steals it.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: The band member with a failed relationship is a marriage counsellor. Counter-intuitively, it's because he has a failed relationship that he's a surprisingly effective marriage counsellor. People with problems in their marriage see how miserable he is as a single person and they instantly feel better about their own situation.
  • Creator Cameo: A couple of the puppeteers show up during the bar scene. In particular, the on-set performers for Tennessee, Julianne Buescher and Jodi St. Michael, show up as a waitress and a customer respectively.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The DVD features point towards the original attraction being a result of the movie band's early success within their whole mockumentaries about the history of the band.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Thimble wants to destroy the Country Bears' concert hall...because they beat him in a school talent show decades ago.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Roadie's pet chicken is named "Mr. Chicken"
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Roadie
  • Evil Is Petty: Aside from the money he'd get from converting the property, Thimble wants to destroy the concert hall to get back at the Country Bears for showing him up decades ago at a school talent show.
  • Furry Confusion: The bears are depicted in this movie as anthropomorphic, yet Roady has a pet chicken that's actually a chicken.
  • G-Rated Drug: The Honey Bar.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Dex's parents do nothing to hide their favoritism towards Beary over him and it is supposed to be funny.
    Mrs. Barrington: Even if you were adopted, we would love you as much as we love Dexter.
    Mr. Barrington: Maybe more. [Dex gives his dad an annoyed look.]
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dexter.
  • Large Ham: Christopher Walken pretty much DEVOURS the scenery as Thimble.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": Beary Barrington
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jennifer Paige as the waitress at the diner, with her uniform that consists of an orange minidress and black leather boots. Zeb even lampshades this:
    Jennifer: You guys inspired me to go after my dream of becoming a famous singer.
    Fred: Did ya make it?
    Zeb: Sure she made it, Fred! She just works here for the free uniform! No offense.
    Jennifer: None taken.
  • Muppet: All of the bear characters were designed and constructed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.
  • Mythology Gag: Marc Davis concept art posters for the attraction appears amongst the clutter in Henry's office.
  • Oblivious Adoption. Very oblivious.
  • Papa Bear: (Ironically) not a literal one, but Mr. Barrington would hit Dexter atop the head with his rolled up newspaper for harassing Beary.
  • Police Are Useless
  • Punny Name: The lampshade was destroyed in this one:
    Officer Ham: Afternoon, sir. Officer Ham.
    Officer Cheats: Officer Cheats.
    Mr. Barrington: [Beat] Ham and Cheats.
    Officer Cheats: [Inward chuckle] Yeah, we, uh, get that all the time.
    Mr. Barrington: Well, it's your names.
    Both: Yeah.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Part of the basic plot of the movie.
  • Raised by Humans: Beary didn't even know he was a bear until his adopted brother pointed it out.
  • Running Gag:
    Random Character: What's that?
    Big Al: That there's a sign.
  • The Stinger: Ham and Cheats returning to their cruiser after their car wash mishap, all the while Cheats confides in Ham that he wears a fake mustache because everyone on the force (even their reception) has one.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Thimble has a grudge against the bears because they beat him in a talent show decades ago. The bears played. He made farting noises with his armpit.
  • Stylistic Suck: The bears watch a cartoon made about them in the '60s. It's made of this trope.
    "That was terrible."