Nelvana Limited (March 24, 1985), MGM (August 6, 2002), single disc, 76 mins plus supplements, 1.33:1 letterbox, Dolby Digital Mono, Rated G, Retail: $14.98
For those of us who used to sleep with a blue Bedtime Bear, it is difficult to forget the impact that all of the Care Bears had on children in the eighties. The Care Bears, along with many other cartoons in the eighties, started out with merchandising that led to a cartoon series. In case of the Care Bears, they started out as greeting cards made by the American Greeting Card company. Soon, the popular bears became books and toys that included a large line of stuffed bears. The success of the toys, and television special, led to a movie in 1985, which then led to a show aimed at toddlers around the world. The movie was so successful that it led to two sequels, as well as two different shows featuring the Care Bears.
The Sweatbox Review:
The Care Bears are small, colorful bears that live in a land, up in the sky, called Care-A-Lot. They live among puffy clouds, smiling stars, and colorful rainbows. In this land, there are many heart-shaped buildings and colorful playgrounds. However, the Care Bear’s job is serious and they are looking down on Earth, with a special star telescope, making sure that every child is loved, and is caring. Whenever there is a shortage of caring on Earth, the Care Bears send some bears to swoop down and be friends with the children. Hopefully, through this act of kindness the children will begin to care again and not forget that they have, and can make friends. If the things ever get too uncaring, then they can always use their famous “Care Bears Stare” where love and caring is projected out of their bellies onto the unkind and uncaring person or villain.
There are several different bears with distinctive colors and markings on their bellies. All of the bears have markings that are characteristics that they have, and it usually goes along with their names as well. Originally, there were ten bears which included their leader, Tender Heart Bear (brown with a red heart), Funshine Bear (yellow with a smiling sun), Cheer Bear (pink with a rainbow), Friend Bear (yellow with two daisies), Good Luck Bear (green with a four-leaf clover), Grumpy Bear (blue with a rain cloud with hearts), Love-a-Lot Bear (pink with two hearts), Bedtime Bear (blue with a moon), Wish Bear (green with a shooting star), and Birthday Bear (yellow with a birthday cake). Later on, some more were added: Champ Bear (yellow with a trophy), Grams Bear (gray with a rose), Baby Hugs (pink with a heart and a star), Baby Tugs (blue with a wrapped star), Harmony Bear (purple with a musical note), Secret Bear (Pink with a heart lock), Share Bear (purple with candy), and True Heart Bear (blue with a star).
The Care Bear Cousins were introduced in this first movie. They live in the Forest of Feelings which is located somewhere between Earth and Care-A-Lot. Here, we find a variety of other animals that help the Care Bears in their adventures and later will be regulars on the cartoon show. They include Brave Heart Lion, Bright Heart Raccoon, Cozy Heart Penguin, Gentle Heart Lamb, Lotsa Heart Elephant, Loyal Heart Dog, Playful Heart Monkey, Proud Heart Cat, Swift Heart Rabbit and Treat Heart Pig. Later on, we would also find Noble Horse and Perfect and Polite Panda. At first, they do not have distinctive markings, but after they meet the Care Bears they become family. Most of them are introduced in the first movie, and the rest are seen in the sequels or in the series.
The Care Bears got a series of their own in 1985. The show was simple and would usually involve the Care Bears flying down to Earth on their Cloud mobile to help some lonely boy or girl. Even in the toughest of situations, the bears could always use their Care Bear Stare to soften break the coldest heart. The next year, The Care Bear Family came out and lasted for two seasons before it hit syndication that mixed episodes from both series. Here, the Care Bear Cousins were added to the mix and they would help the Care Bears whenever they needed more help. In the new series, the Care Bears had a new villain named No-Heart and his sidekick Beastly (who was more funny than menacing).
Now on their twentieth anniversary, the Care Bears are having a revival. Their new toys and cards were introduced this year in stores nationwide and they were flying off the shelf. Parents who grew up with the Care Bears in the eighties are rediscovering them for their children. Companies are betting on the success of the toys this holiday season, and the recent release of the movie on DVD proves that they will be pushed in every way. Having made over 1.5 billion dollars in merchandising over their life, the Care Bears do not seem to be going anywhere and will continue bringing cheer and care to children, and their parents, worldwide.
Most of Care Bears stories are easy to follow, but there are many things going on at the same time. The movie starts out in an orphanage and the children are being put to sleep. Their caretaker, Mr. Cherrywood (voiced by Mickey Rooney), then arrives and agrees to tell the children a story. The story is about the Care Bears, and it starts out with Wish Bear running to find the others to tell them about two children who are lonely. Friend Bear and Secret Bear are then sent down to Earth on the Cloud Mobile, which they crash, to be their friends. However, the two orphans, named Kim and Jason, do not want to make any friends because they fear that they will end up losing them in the end. At the same time, Tender Heart Bear is going to help a young boy, named Nicholas, who is feeling lonely. Nicholas works for a magician named Fettuccini and his greatest wish is to become accepted as a magician. However, things go wrong when Tender Heart is trapped under a table as he watches Nicholas being manipulated by an evil spirit who wishes to use him to rid the world of caring.
Back in Care-A-Lot, Grumpy Bear is trying to fix a new device, called the Rainbow Rescue Beam that will enable them to be transported to Earth much quicker than before. This will help them be there for many more children than ever before. However, Baby Tugs and Hugs come to the machine and, after playing around with it, transport Wish Bear, Friend Bear, and the two orphans up to Care-A-Lot! The skeptic children then go on a tour of Care-A-Lot and quickly become friends with the bears. Then, there is a cloud quake in Care-A-Lot caused by many children back on Earth falling under the evil spirit’s spell. The Care Meter shows that many people have stopped caring and when it hits zero, Care-A-Lot will be ruined. After crashing his own Rainbow Roller, Tender Heart tells them what is going on. Knowing that it is up to them to save the Earth from the evil spirit, the Care Bears are going in to action. But first, they must send Kim and Jason back to the orphanage since they are about to have new parents. Without proper transportation, they are sent back using the new Rescue Beam, but it fails and they are stuck between Care-A-Lot and Earth. The other Care Bears then set out on a journey back to Earth through the only other way out of Care-A-Lot, a river.
It is in this area between Earth and Care-A-Lot is where Kim, Jason, and the two Care Bears find themselves. They fall into a colorful forest, and are greeted by a lion who calls himself Brave Heart Lion and a monkey called Playful Heart Monkey. They live in that land called The Forest of Feelings and they have never met the Care Bears before. The others in the river are not having much luck, but they are soon meeting other strange creatures such as Cozy Heart Penguin, Lotsa Heart Elephant and Bright Heart Raccoon. These new friends help them as they battle against the evil spirit back on Earth. With the help of their new friends from the Forest of Feelings, the Care Bears will return to Earth to bring back caring and save Nicholas from the evil spirit who is making a new more powerful potion. They will need all of the help they can get since Good Luck Bear and Grumpy Bear are hack in Care-A-Lot trying to fix the device before the Care Meter hits zero. They must do all of it before there is no more caring in the world and Care-A-Lot is destroyed.
The movie is very colorful and soft. If there are two words to describe the animation, then they would have to be “eye candy.” Everywhere you look there is a combination of reds, blues, and other soft hues that make out the land of Care-A-Lot. The Care Bears are cute and cuddly and their belief of sharing your feelings feels genuine. Even if you want the Care Bears to be corny, you just cannot help feeling happy while watching them. You know that they will triumph over evil in the end, and you hope that they can do it in time. The story teaches us something about the power of friendship, caring, and love. This comes from the Care Bears, the Care Bear Cousins, and from Kim and Jason who learn what it is to have friends. Even Nicholas eventually learns as his inner-self struggles against the evil spirit.
There are several songs in the movie and they are mostly written by Carole King. Everyone eventually joins in with the music and in the end, there is even a small sing-along that sings, “It’s great to be in that Care Bears Family.” Other songs are sung by Carole King including “Care-A-Lot” and “Home is in Your Heart.” There is also a great song for a chase sequence involving Kim, Jason, and Nicholas as they are running through a theme park hiding from Nicholas and the evil spirit. The Evil spirit is never too frightening and is depicted as a face (reminiscent of the mirror in Snow White) coming out of a spell book. However, there are some spirits that come out of the potions that Nicholas makes that goes to destroy the Care Bears.
Is This Thing Loaded?
The only extra available in the DVD is the original theatrical trailer. It would have been very nice to seem something about the Care Bears phenomenon. Some small peaks at the cartoon series would have also been nice to have. I am not aware of any plans to release the cartoons on DVD, but I guess it would depend on the success of the DVD and merchandising sales.
The Care Bears is being released in a standard keepcase with no additional inserts or special packaging.
Ink And Paint:
The Care Bears is presented in the full screen 1.33:1 ratio. The images are vibrant, although there are slight color variations between some scenes. Sometimes the bears seem to be of different colors in different scenes. Besides that, there seems to be a number of frames with spots and grains that give it an old look. Other than the cleanup that is needed in the transfer, the image is not bad. At least the movie still looks as colorful as ever. The movie is being released in standard 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
The Care Bears Movie is presented in Mono. It is not a bad mix, but it could have been made into a better transfer such as 5.1. However, the audio transfer is not bad and sounds like most other MGM releases. It is also available in French and Spanish Mono. It also comes with English, Spanish and French subtitles.
The Care Bears are cute and fun and are aimed at toddlers. Children will enjoy the colorful bears, settings, and music. Their message of sharing your feelings and knowing that there is always someone to care for you is simple to understand. Making new friends can be a challenge for every child and this movie shows how important it is to be nice to others and to make friends. Even with Kim and Jason, you can learn about parents and how one does not have to worry about losing close friends and family members. It is an upbeat message that will enchant the hearts of children, and adults, of all ages.
Animated Classic or Back To The Drawing Board?