WE BARE BEARS: THE MOVIE: A Most Adorable Social Commentary

Since its premiere on Cartoon Network in 2014, We Bare Bears showed the more playful side of modern interaction, be it meme culture, dating, creating a viral social media presence, or simply making new friends all through the eyes of three unlikely characters; Grizz, a happy-go-lucky brown bear, along with his brothers Panda, a love-sick panda and wannabe social media icon, and Ice Bear, a stoically tough and talented polar bear who is a jack-of-all-trades. Orphaned as cubs, the three intrepid bears move into a cave just outside of San Francisco where they try desperately to fit in with the human world and the ever-growing social landscape.

The show was conceived by Daniel Chong, who has worked on big-name animated film titles such as Inside Out and The Lorax. We Bare Bears: The Movie is his first foray into directing a feature and what he brings to this project is so much deeper and more meaningful than what the series offers in its usual half-hour format. The feature-length capper of the show brings to a head all of the concepts presented in the series’ run while tackling so many of the deeper problems America has faced in recent years. The pains of social media, over-stepping authority with underlying agendas, and immigration reform all play a role in a story about finding your place when nobody wants you.

Yes, this a children’s film, but so much more.

Bears Are People Too

I’ll admit that I am a fan of the show and have seen, I’d like to say, most of its run, giving me a touch of credence as we break down the genius of this kid’s movie. But remember, children’s entertainment is written by adults who hope to instill a good lesson onto the youth of the world. I, myself, am a children’s book author and can speak from experience that the best stories are disguised as relevant life lessons for those in their developmental years. One of the most important lessons is the concept of being yourself, followed by accepting who other people are and celebrating the difference. We Bare Bears: The Movie is all about this mantra while being playfully relevant in the approach.

The story starts with the Bears trying to become internet famous only to cause chaos in the form of rolling blackouts through their shenanigans. Enraged, Agent Trout with the Federal Wildlife Commission, played menacingly to perfection by Marc Evan Jackson, attempts to separate the brothers and send them to bear enclosures in different parts of the world, Grizz, himself being put in a caged camp for stray bears.

Sound familiar to a certain immigration policy from not too long ago?

WE BARE BEARS THE MOVIE A Most Adorable Social Commentary
source: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

What follows is a chase where the Bears try to make it to Canada to find the freedom and acceptance they are entitled to, testing their familiar bond along the way.

Art Imitating Life

What I found so amazing about the film was the deep subtext which isn’t always found as often in the source material, while still capping the series off with a relevant message aimed at everyone, young and old, about friendship, family, and what it means to exist in a world not ready to accept someone’s existence.

Under the fun colorful backdrop comes meaningful ideals about how people, or in the case of the film, bears, deserve respect for simply trying to find their niche without being judged as different because of who they are. For what could have been silly eye candy instead decides to stretch its legs and go for it in a pretty impressive way. Mind you, younger audiences may not see the message as easily through the cute antics and madcap adventures, but this might be a film parents would want to sit through if only to have a bigger discussion about its message later on.

Grin And Bear It

Everything from the voice talent, to the story, to the end credit sequence, had me hooked, especially since I had a handle on the source material. But don’t let not seeing the show stop you from enjoying the film. Even going in cold, audiences will find something to love and the balance of comedy and social relevance defiantly keeps you in your seat. Not so silly that adults will feel embarrassed watching and not so heavy-handed to leave kids scratching their heads. We Bare Bears: The Movie builds a fast-paced, fun world for a multitude of generations.

This film is a grizzly-sized recommend, full of eye-catching animation, laughs, adventure, and most of all, meaning. So rarely do kids shows delve deftly into crafting a powerful plot disguised as child’s fare with this amount of wit and sharp entertainment. These days, we could use so much more of this.

Is there an animated film or show where you came away with so much more than you expected? The Film Inquiry Community would love to hear about it, so stop by the comment section and keep the conversation going.

We Bare Bears: The Movie is available now on DVD and Blu-ray and several streaming platforms.

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